2 Lancaster Estate Nicole’s Vintages, 2011 vs. 2009
I shouldn’t put it that way, ‘versus’. This wasn’t a versus situation. To be honest, I’m low on wine and I’ve been wanting to dive back into my Nicole’s stash and there they were. I opened the ’11 first, a few days ago, and I was already so eager for it to be luminous and expressive, me being a defender of the all-too pummeled ’11 vintage. It had a more gentle impact and presence, which is to be expected from 2011 Cab-centered offerings, but it didn’t lack identity, nor narrative, poetry or conviction. It was a motion consistent with Lancaster and then-winemaker Jesse Katz. This bottle still has potential to lay down, if you really wanted to, but there was nothing muted about it now. It’s ready. It wants to read its flavored verses to you over an over.
The ’09… The winner. I know, I said this wasn’t a versus situation but maybe unintentionally it was. This bottle could cellar for even longer than the ’11, and had more a roar and rhetoric, more growl, more of that classic Alexander Valley music which magnetizes and galvanizes Cab lovers from everywhere. Darker fruit, more texture, more of that cigar box and smoke note that complements the tangibly spoken composition and palate posture of the wine itself. This 2009 Cab-anchored character shows more of a staunchness to it. And before you ask, I’m not one that speaks of varietals like, ‘A Cabernet should always…’ No. I’m one that connects with wines almost separate of what’s on the label. As a standalone wine. This 2009 Nicole’s stands alone, on its own, owning its moment and sensory presence in a way the ’11 didn’t. After having the bottle open for about an hour, it was jazz, recited repeatedly and with a different directive in each sip.
It was interesting tasting these, in reverse order, separated by a few nights. Not like I was worried I wouldn’t like one or the other, or there was any pause or balk. No need. The both had their own stage presence, both with their own definitions and connections, dogmas— Both conversational Cabernets. And if you’ve ever met Nicole, the statuesque inspiration behind the project, you’d know the justice pervades beautifully, proper and integral. Neither falls short or even minusculely disappoints. Lancaster never does, I’ve found. So this was written with shameless, fan-stricken and leaning proclivity.