American Beauty XVII 2024

Hier ist mein brandaktueller Bericht von der 17. Ausgabe der American Beauty vor ein paar Tagen. Warum auf Englisch? Ich habe es mir aus Zeitgründen etwas einfach gemacht und diesen Bericht aus den entsprechenden Instagram Posts zusammengestellt. Auf Instagram poste ich unter @wineterminator immer sehr aktuell, allerdings auf Englisch für einen großen, internationalen Kreis von Followern. Und gleichzeitig habe ich auch den Bericht der 16. American Beauty 2023 online gestellt. Hier war es noch anders. Im letzten Frühjahr wurde mir mein Notizbuch mit den Probennotizen geklaut. Durch die Instagram Posts konnte ich diese Probe komplett rekonstruieren. Jetzt machen Sie es bitte wie meine vielen, internationalen Freunde. Nutzen Sie Google Translate oder vergleichbare Dienste, wenn Ihnen Englisch zu kompliziert ist. Und werfen Sie ruhig mal einen Blick auf die vorherigen 16 American Beauties. Hier z.B. aus dem Wineterminator Archiv die allererste von 2008. Schon spannend der Vergleich der Weine zu heute.

This was the exciting first flight of this years American Beauty, already the 17th edition of this „Mother of all California Best Bottles“. My Swiss friends and myself each brought 2 bottles for this wonderful competition.

This first flight should have been dominated by the near perfect 1992 Dominus, but unfortunately this was a bad bottle. 1994 Dominus was well ripened in a Bordeaux style, very elegant and balanced - WT96. 1997 Dominus still seemed so young, spicy with bell pepper and a good tannic structure for long time aging - WT95+. 2002 Dominus still was quite young and powerful with fine, slightly exotic fruit in a new, more Calfornian style, moving away from that more classic style - WT95+. 2009 Dominus from this bottle here was quite opulent and sweet. On a high level this was lacking tension and seemed boring - WT92. Winner of this flight from a weak California vintage was this surprisingly stunning 2011 Dominus, still so young, powerful, spicy and sexy with fine Cassis and enough substance for a longer future - WT97.

All wines were served blind and came from different cellars which might explain some surprising ratings. But I did not change my ratings after the wines were disclosed give you just this first impression from my tasting glass.

This superb 1994 Bryant Family Vineyard is one of my all time California favorites. When our host Baschi opened and decanted this in the morning from a bad bottle with leaking cork it smelled like disaster. But this Bryant fought its way back. When it was poured in the tasting, it was so elegant and balanced with menthof freshness, fine red currant and superb length - WT97. From perfect bottles this is a true WT100 giant. The 1997 Lail Vineyards J. Daniel Cuvée still had a dense color, good cassis and blackberry fruit, leather, tobacco and licorice. But it also showed a lot of ripeness and seemed ready to retire soon, like many 97s - WT94. Not so the still so fresh, powerful, but also elegant, minty 1997 Togni Cabernet Sauvignon with its excellent structure, that will easily survive most other 97s - WT97. And then there was this gorgeous 1991 Heitz Martha‘s Vineyard from a perfect Magnum. A very elegant, refined Martha’s version, powerful, dense, complex with superb fruit, old saddle leather mint and a fsint hint of eucalyptus, not as wild as I know it, but with enormous long time potential - WT97+.

The next flight impressively showed, why the owners of famous Bordeaux Chateau Latour in 2013 bought Araujo Estate with their unique Eisele Vineyard and in 2016 renamed it to Eisele Estate.

This 2002 Araujo Eisele Cabernet Sauvignon was a full-bodied, opulent dream with fine cassis fruit and enormous power. A beautiful wine, so mineralic, that also excelled with incredible elegance, finesse and balance - WT98. The 2009 Araujo Eisele Cabernet Sauvignon n a similar style was younger and just a bit more of everything. This for me was absolute perfection, a breathtaking wine that made speechless - WT100. No wonder that this 2009 became the winner of the 17th American Beauty.

I also loved the two other wines in this flight. This 2002 Dunn Howell Mountain, made in that classic style, that literally screamed for long storage, was still quite tannic with enormous power, a superb structure, concentrated dark fruit, licorice, iodine, graphite and great length. This was my by far best bottle of this wine, that finally seems to open up and should have a great future - WT97. The 2009 Dunn Howell Mountain, though younger, seemed more accessible with fine red and blue fruit, very elegant and full of finesse with quite ripe tannins - WT96.

Two more flights of this American Beauty coming. And I have to tell you, reading my notes and writing the posts makes pretty thirsty.

The fourth flight of our American Beauty brought great wines again, but also disappointing ones.

I really loved this full-bodied, quite opulent 2012 Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon. This was still so fresh, so elegant with a great structure, but also showed seductive, sweet fruit and fine melt - WT98. One of the best Spottswoodes ever. Superb also this spicy, elegant and balanced 2012 VHR Vine Hill Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon, that with its addictive aromatics and its gorgeous texture has developed really well, but might even gain further over the next 10+ years - WT97+. The 2016 Dalla Valley Maya was a true, concentrated powerhouse with enormous substance and long time potential. A strange, diffuse nose from this seemingly slightly faulty bottle ( from my perfect cellar - holy shit!) spoiled this potentially WT100 performance - WT96+. Strange, because I bought that from very good provenance after a stellar performance last summer in a master class with charming Maya from Dalla Valley. Even more disappointing was this 2003 Opus One from a definitely faulty bottle. This had so much depth and complexity, but an oxidized, old nose - WT93. Obviously a bad bottle. A winebaby, but a very, very pretty one was this incredibly dense and powerful 2007 Kapcsandy Family Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Grand Vin State Line Vineyard. When it hit my nose and my palate, it felt like a double-whammy and this concentrated fruit bomb took all senses in a storm - WT98+. This beauty has enormous potential and developing more balance and finesse over the next years this could become a WT100 wine.

And this was the last and final flight of our 17th American Beauty Best Bottle which brought two true highlights and unfortunately three disappointing wines. The 2004 Maybach Materium had a deep color and was still young and dense with a good backbone of ripe tannins. But there was this strange, oxidative nose with a kind of applesauce. Strange, faulty bottle, no rating given. Similar unfortunately with the 2004 Paul Hobbs Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard. A very dense, concentrated, opulent and hedonist powerhouse of a wine, close to perfection. But here a lot of volatile acidity partly stole the show - WT94. The 2005 Stag‘s Leap Cask 23 Cabernet Sauvignon had a difficult, sweaty nose and not a really stellar palate - WT93. Far better than those three bottles was the 2004 Shafer Hillside Select. A very powerful, dense wine with superb, sweet dark fruit and explosive aromatics, a typical great Hillside, just maybe as a result of that hot 2004 vintage the elegance of those perfect WT100 Hillside vintages like 2001 and 2002 was missing - WT97. I prefered the 2002 Phelps Insignia in the glass next to it. Such a gorgeous, typical Insignia with this perfect balancing act of power and elegance. Superb, hedonist dark fruit, lots of finest melt, great length, but also a strong backbone with massive tannins for longtime aging - WT97+.