2010 Anderson's Conn Valley Vineyards Éloge Napa Valley

2010 Anderson's Conn Valley Vineyards Éloge Napa Valley

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A past Wine Access story about 2010 Anderson's Conn Valley Vineyards Éloge Napa Valley

2010 Anderson’s Conn Valley “Éloge” — Robert Parker: “Still Very Much a Baby”

Todd Anderson’s 2010 “Éloge” is one of the finest to ever come off this blue-chip property above St. Helena, just south of Howell Mountain. $95 on release. First offered for $75/bottle in late 2013. Just $50 today on WineAccess, as we clean out the last bits and pieces from the Oregon warehouse before the September 1st move to Napa. 62 bottles remain.

It would go down as the coolest summer in recent Napa Valley history, one that provided for extended hang-time, allowing growers to wait until mid-October to pick. Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate described the 2010 vintage as “epic,” adding that the top wines are “big, powerful and viscerally thrilling.” Todd Anderson, who has been crafting brilliant, age-worthy, estate-grown Reserves at his Conn Valley stronghold for three decades, called his massive 2010s “the purest, most elegant Cabernet Sauvignons in Conn Valley’s history.”

When we asked Todd to explain the vintage’s remarkable poise, its age-worthy marriage of black-fruit intensity, silken texture, and firm backbone, Anderson didn’t miss a beat. “Every growing season comes with a script, but few provided as much drama as 2010. For me, this was a vintage where patience was really rewarded. Those who panicked in July really took it on the chin. But for those of us who have been through this before — and stood pat — 2010 may well be the most unique growing season in estate history.”

[[image0_left]]Up here above St. Helena, where Conn Creek flows off of Howell Mountain, May and June were unseasonably cold. The vines were already 2-3 weeks behind. Many panicked, pulling leaves in early July, hoping to jumpstart maturity.

Then came two unexpected heat spikes, the first in mid-July, the second in August. Overly exposed bunches were blistered by the sun, making for an uneven crop prone towards desiccation. But Anderson — like Harlan, Screaming Eagle, Bryant Family, and most of the other blue-chippers in the valley — left canopies untouched. When the cool days returned in the latter part of August, Anderson’s small crop was set for the home stretch. From the end of August through early October, the fruit matured slowly and incrementally. The call to harvest came just a few days into the second week of the month.

Glistening purple-black in color, with sensational aromatic purity — a plush mix of blackberry, black cherry, and violets, tinged with cool-vintage sweet spice. Rich, powerful, and voluptuous on the attack, packed with black-fruit preserves, bracketed by ripe-tannin vibrancy. Drink now — but only after two hours in a carafe. As Robert Parker wrote, the 2010 Éloge is “still very much a baby.”

$95/bottle on release. First offered for $75 late in 2013. Just $50 today on WineAccess, as we continue to clean out the Oregon warehouse prior to the move to Napa.

Expert Ratings and Reviews

92 Points Wine Advocate, 2012
88 Points Wine Advocate, 2011
88 Points Wine Advocate, 2013

Customer Ratings

Based on 180 ratings
Wish we'd ordered more!

We enjoyed our first bottle of this lovely wine tonight...and we were blown away! We love a smooth cab/cab franc blend...and this was one of the best we've had! Our remaining 3 bottles will be savored for special occasions!

My favorite!

Really beginning to come into its own

Had this last night after cellaring for a couple of years. Huge nose cherry, blackberry, vanilla, cigar box spiciness. On the palate, huge blackberry, blueberry, ripe black cherry, massively sweet oak vanilla that does not overpower ones senses. Perhaps another year or two to begin to subdue the textural oak component and really bring this wine into phenomenal shape. Very refined with beautifully layered structure, and big fruit that is coming together magnificently and a taste that just seems to go on forever. Ordered more.

Thoroughly enjoy every time I open a bottle from the color, to the nose, the palate and the finish always wonderful, jammy and leave me wanting more!

Needs some time but not as robust of a red as I had hoped

Really, really good! Bold, deep flavor. Dry, without any chewiness at all.

Better than the 11 and an impressive cab mainstay...reliably robust and deliciously fruity without waste or deception.

Napa Valley 2010

The 2010 vintage in Napa was cool, late, and long, yielding elegant, focused, almost Bordeaux-styled wines — a definite departure from recent great vintages in which heat, drought, sun, and fruit driven power are the hallmarks. These are solid, structured wines that will need a few years to shed their youthful grip and tension. It will be interesting to watch how the 2010s age, but if you’re fond of restrained, classically-styled Napa Valley Cabernet, this is your vintage.

The season started late, with ample rainfall. After several years of very dry conditions, rain was welcome, though it pushed back the ripening cycle (bud break, flowering, and fruit set) by about two weeks. Frost was never a problem. The summer that followed was cool, and growers worked to adjust canopies and crop loads to accommodate the slow pace of ripening. Veraison occurred about two weeks late, and by the middle of August many were predicting that harvest would be almost three weeks later than average.

With vineyards pruned and canopies thinned for the cool conditions (temperatures regularly topped out around 70℉ during mid-summer), a couple of heat spikes in late August and early September (some to well over 100℉) presented challenges for growers. Many vineyards that were set up for optimal sun exposure in the cool conditions were damaged by sunburn. This required hard work to isolate and drop the damaged bunches. A reduction in yields was part of the collateral damage. After the spikes, cool temperatures returned, and September stayed cool except for a brief warm spell at month’s end.

The harvest was late but the grapes needed the extra hang time to develop. The brief warm spell at the end of September, and another in the middle of October, helped the plants eke out a little more ripeness. With rain predicted in the third week of October, it was time to pick, ready or not.

Overall, it was a tricky and challenging year. Managing the cool summer and then dealing with the heat were major obstacles. The best, but most labor intensive and painful strategy, seems to have been to thin bunches and set up for maximum ripening, meticulously select out the berries damaged by heat, and then pick as late as possible before the rain. The growers that did this ended up with a small but concentrated and classically balanced crop. It was certainly labor intensive, and costly, in terms of the reduced yields, but who said grape growing was easy?

The best wines from this vintage are solid and deeply colored, with beautiful aromatics, concentration, purity, and detail. Generally speaking, alcohols are lower than the norm, and the wines express lively, deep, dark fruit notes, elements that only come from long, cool growing seasons. They have the acidity, tannin, and structure to match the fruit, and should be long-lived, classy wines. Where growers got it wrong, you can find green notes and a weird combination of cool-climate unripe, herbal tones, oddly mixed with overripe, candied or bitter, burnt characteristics (from bunches affected by the heat that weren’t sorted out). From the weather to the wines, we’re talking about a vintage of peaks and valleys, but when winemakers and growers really got it right, quality is outstanding.

Key Dates

First heat spike causes sunburn and shrivels berries; Temperatures over 100℉ recorded in some spots

First rainfall arrives and signals the end of optimal harvest window

Three days of temperatures over 100℉ impact the grapes

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