At over 1300 feet of elevation on Pritchard Hill, the Colgin IX Estate is not only one of the most visually stunning properties in Napa Valley but also home to some of the best vines in all of California. This 20-acre estate vineyard has produced eight 100-point wines since the early 2000s, and the rocky, volcanic soils lend a structure and minerality to the wines that is distinctly Pritchard Hill. Not only do the wines age exceptionally well, they have proven to hold value and are among the most consistent in Napa year in and year out. In fact, the flagship IX Estate Red has scored 96 points or better in 14 out of the 15 years it has been produced… with the lone outlier being 2011, arguably the most difficult vintage across the Valley in over 2 decades.
The crown jewel in the Colgin lineup, mentioned above, is their IX Estate Red that elevated Colgin to the top tier of cult producers with their first 100-point wine in 2002. Since then, a virtually identical winemaking and vineyard team has crafted wines in successive vintages up to the present day, with no expense spared along the way and the overall case production remaining consistently low. The IX Estate Red has always been atop the most collectible and highly allocated wines in Napa Valley, with Ann Colgin making the decision very early on to distribute her wines through a mailing list and then placed in selected restaurants across the country.
Thanks in large part to Ann Colgin’s longstanding ties to David Abreu, not only are her vineyards under the watch of one of the very best in Napa but the access she has to some of Abreu’s own vineyard sites is second to none. The Cariad proprietary blend is built around fruit sourced from Abreu’s two best vineyards — Madrona Ranch and Thorevilos. The pedigree of the grapes selected for Cariad has allowed this bottling to command prices almost in line with the IX Estate Red, with scores that would make other cult wine producers jealous. Varietal composition is fairly consistent from year to year, with Cabernet forming the backbone and Merlot and Cabernet Franc added to the blend in smaller amounts.
The quality of the Cabernet coming from Tychson Hill vineyard is a direct reflection of David Abreu’s vineyard management and attention to the smallest details. While the property has a prime Napa address on the hillsides just north of Grace Family in Saint Helena, the vineyard itself was in disrepair before it was acquired by Colgin, who hired David Abreu to selectively replant the vineyard in 1996. Adjoining parcels of this vineyard have been purchased over the last decade to expand the holdings, and this site delivered back to back 100-point wines in 2012 and 2013 that have moved into the conversation for ‘wine of the vintage’ – high praise considering that ’12 and ’13 are destined to be some of Napa’s iconic vintages down the line. Considered to be the most elegant wine in the Colgin range, the more refined Tychson Hill is a classically-styled compliment to the more powerful wines that come from the higher elevation Colgin sites.
The Cabernet from Herb Lamb vineyard is a throwback to the earliest days of the Colgin project. From the first vintage in ’92, the Colgin brand was built around Cabernet sourced from this outstanding site in the foothills of Howell Mountain. While Colgin no longer bottles a Herb Lamb designate, the rows they did use for past vintages were in the heart of the vineyard with the best aspect and exposure. Other respected producers are now fortunate to have access to the old Colgin blocks, but the Herb Lamb Vineyard will be inextricably linked to Ann Colgin and the exceptional wines that Helen Turley, Mark Aubert, and Allison Tauziet produced for Colgin Cellars over the span of 2 decades.
Not to be overlooked in the Colgin lineup is the IX Estate Syrah, sourced directly from the coolest blocks of the Pritchard Hill estate. This bottling, often compared to top flight Chapoutier single vineyard wines from the Rhone, is one of the very few American Syrahs to have been awarded 100 points from Wine Advocate. Not surprisingly, the originally cuttings for these vines come from Cote-Rotie and Hermitage in the Northern Rhone and there is little doubt the Colgin Syrah is built for the cellar and on the short list of the finest Syrah produced outside of France. This wine is quintessentially Napa Valley yet always maintains an Old World element that allows it to develop incredible complexity with bottle age.