How did Colgin Cellars become a Napa Valley cult winery, and which of its vintages should you buy in 2021?
Colgin Cellars has established itself as one of the most acclaimed New World wineries. It’s first growth wines enjoy a cult status among wine enthusiasts and collectors - thanks to their limited production, age-ability, and investment potential.
This Article Contains:
(Click on the links below to go to a specific section)
- A Quick Intro To Colgin Cellars
- Colgin Cellars - A Brief History
- The Colgin Vineyards
- Winemaking At Colgin Cellars
- Best Vintages from Colgin Cellars in 2021
- 2002 Colgin Cellars Tychson Hill Cabernet Sauvignon
- 2016 Colgin Cellars Tychson Hill Cabernet Sauvignon
- 2017 Colgin Cellars Cariad Red
- 2016 Colgin Cellars Cariad Red
- 2018 Colgin Cellars IX Estate Red
- 2002 Colgin Cellars IX Estate Red
- 2010 Colgin Cellars IX Estate Syrah
- 2016 Colgin Cellars IX Estate Syrah
- 1997 Colgin Cellars Herb Lamb Cabernet Sauvignon
- 2007 Colgin Cellars Herb Lamb Cabernet Sauvignon
A Quick Intro To Colgin Cellars
Colgin Cellars is a winery situated in the Napa Valley wine region of California. Despite being relatively young, the wine estate (founded in the 1990s) has managed to seal its position among the most prestigious New World producers of red wine.
Colgin Cellars produces four signature wine styles:
- Tychson Hill Cabernet Sauvignon: A Colgin Cellar star, this delicate red wine is a singular expression of Cabernet Sauvignon from the Tychson Hill vineyard.
- IX Estate Red: This dark and aromatic colgin wine is a Bordeaux-style blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot.
- Cariad Red: Another Bordeaux blend that comes from the Cariad vineyard and is named after the Welsh word for love.
- IX Estate Syrah: This aromatic wine is made with grapes from vine plantings cloned from the Cote-Rotie and Hermitage appellations in Northern Rhone, France.
Many of Colgin’s finest wines, such as the 2002 Tychson Hill and the 2010 Cariad, have earned 100-point ratings from wine critic Robert Parker. He also named Colgin “One of the Fifty Greatest Wine Estates in the World.”
Let’s go back to where it all started.
Colgin Cellars - A Brief History
The seed for Colgin Cellars was sown when its founder Ann Colgin attended the Napa Valley Wine Auctions in 1988 and fell in love with the place.
The winery was founded in 1992 when Ann started sourcing grapes from Herb Lamb vineyards in Howell Mountains to make her first vintage, which was released in 1995.
During 1996-97, Ann purchased and replanted a historic vineyard site and named it Tychson Hill.
This hillside vineyard was originally planted in the 1880s by Josephine Tychson (the first female vintner in the Napa Valley.)
In the next few years, Ann and her future husband Joe Wender acquired two more vineyard plots in the Napa Valley, each with a distinct terroir.
With three operational vineyards, Colgin Cellars gradually scaled up their wine production to 4,000 cases a year today.
In 2017, Colgin Cellars joined hands with the leading luxury conglomerate Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy (LVMH), headed by Bernard Arnault.
The LVMH Group now owns a 60% stake in the winery, while the founders Ann Colgin and her husband, Joe Wender, retain the rest as well as their leadership positions.
Colgin's unique heritage also made it the only American wine label to feature in LVMH’s Vins de Exception Group, alongside illustrious names like Chateau Cheval Blanc, Château D’Yquem, and Domaine du Clos des Lambrays.
The Colgin Vineyards
Ann Colgin chose her vineyard sites strategically to get the best of what Napa Valley’s terroir has to offer.
Let’s take a tour of the Colgin Vineyards and their winemaking methods:
1. Tychson Hill Vineyards
The historic Tychson Hill vineyards, located north of St. Helena town is spread across six acres. The soil at these exceptional hillside vineyards has a volcanic origin and is known as ‘Aiken very stony loam.’
The sharp difference between the day and night temperatures in the vineyard delays the ripening of the fruit.
It results in a complex yet delectable expression of Cabernet Sauvignon with smokey, fruity, and floral overtones.
2. Cariad Vineyard
The Cariad Vineyard on the western hills of St. Helena is owned and managed by the famous viticulturist David Abreu. Colgin Cellars uses the vineyards under a long-term lease to make their Cariad Red, the first vintage of which, was produced in 1999.
The eight acres of plantation on these vineyards comprise three main plots – the Madrona Ranch, Howell Mountain, and Thorevilos.
The rocky volcanic soils at the Howell Mountain and other vineyards, together with optimal climate, helps produce a deep and full-bodied Bordeaux style wine — a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot.
3. The IX Estate Vineyard
In 1999, Ann Colgin and her husband Joe Wender purchased this high-altitude estate in the Pritchard Hill area of Napa Valley.
The IX Estate vineyard comprises 20 different plots spread across 20 acres on a slope overlooking Lake Hennessey. This Pritchard Hill area plot is also called the number nine estate to memorialize the date (9/9/2000) Ann and Joe got married on this spectacular hillside vineyard.
In the words of Robert Parker, the IX Estate is “as close to a viticultural nirvana as I’ve ever seen.”
The winemaking team ferments each of the twenty plots separately to preserve and track each varietal’s traits.
Let’s explore more about the winemaking processes here.
Winemaking At Colgin Cellars
The IX Estate hosts the Colgin Winery, where master winemaker Allison Tauziet (Director of Winemaking at Colgin) oversees the production.
The vinification starts with soaking the grapes for roughly 25-30 days. Fermentation is usually done at temperatures ranging from moderately low to mid-20°C.
The wines are then aged in 100% new French oak barrels for roughly two years. They are then sent for bottling with minimal racking.
A key factor that helps the Colgin winery to beat their own quality standards consistently, is the continuity in its winemaking team.
Colgin has only had three winemakers since the beginning. Two of them, Mark Aubert and winemaker Allison Tauziet, also served as assistant winemakers for years before they took charge.
In 2013, Master Sommelier Paul Roberts joined Colgin Cellars as their Chief Operating Officer.
Let’s check out the best Colgin vintages to add to your collection in 2021.
Best Vintages from Colgin Cellar in 2021
Here are our top picks of the most exceptional Colgin Cellar wines:
1. 2002 Colgin Cellars Tychson Hill Cabernet Sauvignon
With a perfect-100 score, the 2002 Tychson Hill wine was the third Cabernet Sauvignon vintage from the iconic vineyards.
This deep red wine has gorgeous aromas of raspberry, white chocolate, graphite, and acacia flowers. On the palate, it has hints of red fruit, earth, and minerals. The wine has ripe and supple tannins and a discernible aftertaste.
Price of 2002 Colgin Cellars Tychson Hill Cabernet Sauvignon: $758
2. 2016 Colgin Cellars Tychson Hill Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
2016 Colgin Cellars Tychson Hill Cabernet Sauvignon welcomes you with exotic notes of rose, lavender, dark cherry, plum, and black currant. There’s a long and pleasurable aftertaste on the palate.
Price of 2016 Colgin Cellars Tychson Hill Cabernet Sauvignon: $710
3. 2017 Colgin Cellars Cariad Red
The 2017 Colgin Cariad Red reflects the character of all the vintages that came before it.
Its purple-black color and initial wafts of blackberry, plum, and licorice are sure to entice any wine enthusiast! The wine has a dense texture, silky tannins, and a long mineral finish on the palate.
Price of 2017 Colgin Cellars Cariad Red: $685
4. 2016 Colgin Cellars Cariad Red
“Inviting and magnetic” is how Colgin Cellars describes its magnificent 2016 Cariad Red.
Rich and heady notes of dark fruit, licorice, dry spices, and incense create an intoxicating, almost hypnotic effect.
The rocky volcanic soils of Cariad vineyards lend this vintage a strong minerality. On the palate, it is full-bodied with layers of fruit and tannin.
Price of 2016 Colgin Cellars Cariad Red: $684
5. 2018 Colgin Cellars IX Estate Red
A 100-point rating from Robert Parker is a testament to the fantastic quality of the 2018 IX Estate Red.
Tasting notes of granite, charcoal, sage, and savory spices give this incredible wine a bold and brooding character.
You can taste wild blueberry, black cherry, and hints of spices like turmeric and ginger. On the palate, it offers sculpted tannins with a touch of minerality.
Price of 2018 Colgin Cellars IX Estate Red: $875
6. 2002 Colgin Cellars IX Estate Red
Often termed as “a perfect wine” by the critics, the 2002 IX Estate Red would delight any fine wine connoisseur.
Fresh aromas of cherries and raspberries are combined with spices like tamarind and pepper. With time, it progresses to more earthy and smokey notes. The supple and ripe tannin gives it a rich mouthfeel.
Price of 2002 Colgin Cellars IX Estate Red: $700
7. 2010 Colgin Cellars IX Estate Syrah
In addition to the typical orange blossom and violet notes, the IX Estate Syrah has intense smoked meat flavors.
This contrasting mix of meaty and floral notes in this incredible wine will remind you of the iconic wines from Northern Rhone.
Price of 2010 Colgin Cellars IX Estate Syrah: $542
8. 2016 Colgin Cellars IX Estate Syrah
The multi-faceted 2016 vintage of IX Estate Syrah has a coastal vibe thanks to distinct sea breeze notes. Additionally, the nose gives off wild notes of game meat and Nicoise olives.
Delicious flavors of black cherry and dark licorice explode on the palate, along with hints of cracked pepper and graphite.
Price of 2016 Colgin Cellars IX Estate Syrah: $410
9. 1997 Colgin Cellars Herb Lamb Cabernet Sauvignon
This Napa wine is made by vinifying just the top seven rows of the fruit, truly reflecting the winemaker's craft.
The 1997 Herb Lamb vintage opens with rich aromas of plum jam, roasted coffee, and caramel, along with smokey and earthy notes. On the palate, the wine is dense with an extracted mouthfeel.
Price of 1997 Colgin Cellars Herb Lamb Cabernet Sauvignon: $782
10. 2007 Colgin Cellars Herb Lamb Cabernet Sauvignon
This outstanding 2007 vintage was the last Colgin wine to come from the Herb Lamb vineyard.
You’ll be welcomed with an intense nose of licorice, cassis, and chocolate mint. The palate offers silky tannins and will keep evolving as the wine ages for twenty to thirty years.
Colgin recommends at least five years of cellar aging to appreciate its taste fully.
Price of 2007 Colgin Cellars Herb Lamb Cabernet Sauvignon: $682
Should You Invest in Colgin Wines?
Colgin wines command high prices and receive great accolades from critics year after year.
The exquisitely handcrafted red wines of the Colgin winery age well, and most bottles hit their prime around the 20-year mark.
A 100-point wine approaching maturity may offer significantly higher returns on its initial value, especially the first-growth wines. For example, the 2002 Colgin Cellars IX Estate Red price hit a new high in January 2021 ($932), an appreciation of over 70% from January 2020 ($532.)
Colgin Cellars also impresses at auctions. At a 2011 auction, the IX Estate Red (2007 vintage) fetched $610 for a bottle that initially cost $290.
However, their limited production and unique distribution strategy make it extremely hard to get hold of a bottle. Often, Colgin Cellars' offerings are distributed only to their exclusive mailing list members and specialty retailers like Sotheby’s.
But how do you buy an authentic bottle of Colgin wine without having to be an insider in the wine world?
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Ready to Add a Napa Valley Classic to your Collection?
Over the years, Colgin Cellar has built a solid reputation as a maker of exquisitely handcrafted red wines with good investment potential.
Their Cabernet Sauvignon-based vintages age exceptionally well and certainly deserve a place in your collection.
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