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October 20th, 2006 — Wine Spectator’s Wine Experience 2006

An amazing day at the San Francisco Marriott that started with tasting 10 top California Cabernets and finished with a night of Grand Tastings of some 190 of the best California, Oregon and Washington wineries.

Two addicts, Ian & David attended with guest taster Rak and his father-in-law Earl. The tasting was an amazing event with over a 1,000 tasters hosted by 10 winemakers/owners and James Laube. The wineries included some of the big names from Napa: Harlan, Screaming Eagle, Foley and Araujo. For 90 minutes, the winemakers spoke passionately about their wines and philosophy, as wait staff passed through the aisles pouring that wine into glasses for the eager patrons. The wines were all very good, and could have improved with more time out of the bottle. Based on tastings during the session, the wines had not been opened long and in some cases started to open up after an hour in the glass. But they were still spectacular – it was the first time for David or I to have tasted Screaming Eagle or Harlan and they were impressive, and it may be some time until we taste again considering their increasingly astronomical price tags. We kept tasting the wines as long as we could to make sure we were tasting nearer their best for the day, but had to leave eventually and find Rak’s father-in-law who had wondered off around the Marriott.

In the evening, Shane joined the group for the Grand Tasting where almost every major winery in Napa was present with current and in some cases, older vintages. It is very hard to provide accurate ratings with so much wine being tasted in such a short period of time, but it was clear who our favourites were on the night: Araujo 2002, Pride 2001 and Harlan 2003. I have always liked the Araujo style, and David, Rak and I tasted a 92-94 vertical of Araujo a couple of years ago that shows the true depth of this vineyard - consistently great full mouth feeling and a long smooth finish. How do you pick you favourite Araujo ? So I asked Bart Araujo, winemaker and owner of Araujo Estate who considers 93 to be an underrated vintage that is tasting very well right now.

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