Hidden Gem of the Month: 2012 Colgin Cariad Is a California Blend with Great Aging Potential

2012 Colgin Cariad

The 2012 Colgin Cariad is an unusually acidic California blend that will age beautifully over the next thirty years.


 I’ve long been familiar with Colgin’s classic Cabernet Sauvignon, but recently, I’ve found a new love: Cariad. This is perhaps fitting since the name “Cariad” means “love” in Welsh. Full of intense tannin and layers of fruit, the proprietary Bordeaux-style blend from the Colgin estate is more acidic than you’d expect from a California vineyard. Although the estate’s Cabernet remains at the top of most collectors’ lists, I recommend taking a second look at 2012 Cariad for your next investment. The 2012 vintage in particular is neck-and-neck with its Cabernet sibling in quality and might even be the better choice for collectors who prefer wine with a little more bite.

An Edgier Napa Blend

The 2012 Colgin is made from a textbook Bordeaux-style blend of 53 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 26 percent Merlot, 12 percent Cabernet Franc, and 9 percent Petit Verdot. Yet its Napa Valley origins give it sweeter fruits than its French peers, and a much fuller body. The California sunshine was especially prevalent in 2012, and critics call this a classic vintage. Napa’s long stretches of warm days followed by foggy summer nights created bold wines with an ideal balance between fruitiness and lip-puckering acidity.

However, while Colgin’s Cabernet Sauvignon developed pure fruit-forward flavors in 2012, the Cariad blend only had some of this jamminess. The Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot gave it far more acidity than you normally find in a California blend made during an especially warm summer, and for this reason, 2012 Colgin Cariad might age longer than other wines from the estate. Robert Parker explains that the wine will cellar for an additional 25 or 30 years—minimum. It’s worth drinking now since its firm tannins are already well-integrated with the rest of the wine, but you’ll be richly rewarded if you hold onto this wine through the decades.

That Same Colgin Rarity

The 2012 vintage resulted in especially high yields in California, yet Colgin remained dedicated to its famously limited number of cases. Colgin usually restricts its Cariad label to just 450 to 550 cases each year, regardless of harvest quantity, and 2012 was no exception. This is excellent news for collectors looking to make a profit on these bottles later. Right now, 2012 Colgin Cariad costs about $550 per bottle, which is about $100 less than the Cabernet Sauvignon label from the same vintage. However, since the quality is so high, the wine is rare, and the aging potential is promising, your upfront investment could grow immensely over the next decade or two.

An A-List Team of Winemakers

This wine’s brilliant winemakers add to its reputation. All the grapes are sourced from the legendary Abreu vineyards, and after the harvest, the wine is carefully tended by winemaker Allison Tauziet. She is known for her close attention to detail throughout the fermentation process, with a strong focus on grape handling. Rather than aggressively and quickly harvesting berries, Tauziet handles the grapes with care from the start to preserve their skins and juice. From there, she sorts them into gravity-fed fermentation tanks, which allows the color, tannins, and flavors of the wine to be extracted more gently than by standard pump tanks. The result is a balanced wine with more layers of flavors.

Your Guide to the Best Colgin Vintages

The best Colgin vintage for your collection will depend on how long you want to cellar your wine and whether you prefer acidity or fruit. Any 2012 vintage from the estate will be worth an investment due to the high vintage quality. However, collectors who prefer their wines to taste brighter and more tannic will want to invest in Cariad over Cabernet Sauvignon from the Tychson Hill vineyard. Collectors looking for a wine to drink right now or those who prefer a sweeter, more fruit-forward vintage will instead want to consider the estate’s Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah. They still have some aging potential, and they have a milder, more voluptuous flavor than the Cariad.

If you’re looking for the longest-lasting wine, and you want to get a sense of how the 2012 Colgin Cariad will age in the future, I recommend buying a bottle of 2002 Cariad for comparison. The 2002 was relatively similar to the 2012 in terms of weather, with a mild summer and even budding. Now that this vintage has had 10 years longer to age than the 2012, you can get a fairly good idea of where the 2012 is headed in the next decade. Based on positive early tasting notes from critics, this is a future wine tasting that’s worth marking on your calendar.

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At Vinfolio, we help our clients buy, sell, store, and manage their most treasured bottles of wine. But in our spare time, we’re just a group of passionate and slightly obsessed oenophiles--we love sharing a great glass of vintage Champagne, followed by a Burgundy, and then a Bordeaux, to get things started. We’re always obsessing over the latest (and oldest) vintages, and we want to share that knowledge and passion with our readers.