2017 Ultimate Red receives 93 points from James Suckling

James Suckling reviewed the 2017 Ultimate Red:

93 pointsA tight, well-structured red with currant, chocolate and hazelnut aromas and flavors. Medium to full body and a rich palate with juicy fruit, yet there’s underlying freshness and focus. Needs a year or two to come together, but already looking excellent. Better after 2022.


2017 Ultimate Red receives 93 points from James Suckling2021-04-08T17:08:37+00:00

2016 Ultimate Red scored at 92 points in WashingtonWineBlog

The 2016 Calla Lily ‘Ultimate Red’ is comprised of nearly all Cabernet Sauvignon (84%) sourced from the 20 acre estate vineyard located in the Pope Valley and is a really good effort by winemaker Cary Gott. Aged for 22 months in 40% new French oak, the toasty oak tones neatly combine with layers of dark fruits, fresh thyme and chocolate that all come together aromatically. The palate is velvety with light tannins that frame the core of downright delicious dark fruits with chocolate tones. Fantastic to savor in its youth, this beautiful wine will cellar well for more than a decade. Drink 2020-2032.

2016 Ultimate Red scored at 92 points in WashingtonWineBlog2021-04-08T17:08:39+00:00

Tasting Panel awards 2014 Audax 94 points

In The Tasting Panel Magazine, March 2019, p. 52:

The grapes for this big red from winemaker Cary Gott come from a 95-acre vineyard planted in 1995 on the eastern side of Howell Mountain. A blend of 89.2% Cabernet Sauvignon with 5.2% Cabernet Franc and 5.6% Merlot, the wine spent 27 months in 50% new French oak. Plum, olives and pea tendrils emerge as the initial scents before the palate dives into powdery tannins and balanced acidity. With a red-fruited elegance, a core of blackberry and vanilla, and a mocha-oak finish, it takes you on a lengthy journey that’s truly multi-dimensional.

Tasting Panel awards 2014 Audax 94 points2021-04-08T16:46:35+00:00

2012 Audax receives 95 points from WineReviewOnline

Rich Cook reviews the 2012 Audax at WineReviewOnline on July 11, 2017:

This audacious debut of a premium label from Calla Lily Wines is a muscular, post-modern take on Napa Cabernet, with bold structure, depth and palate weight. It displays aromas and flavors of blackberry, cassis, pepper and graphite delivered in a dry style, with forward fruit that remains well integrated with the other elements through a long, rich finish.  It comes in a spectacular package that’s suitable for gifting the boss or another wine aficionado on your list. 


2012 Audax receives 95 points from WineReviewOnline2020-09-18T17:14:46+00:00

2014 Ultimate Red Pinot Noir receives 93 points from WineReviewOnline

Rich Cook reviews the 2014 Ultimate Red Pinot Noir at WineReviewOnline on July 4, 2017:

Journeyman winemaker Cary Gott brings over twenty wineries worth of experience to this new project, located at what was previously the Budge Brown winery in Pope Valley.  This first foray into Pinot Noir shows Gott’s experience, as he nurtures an elegant expression of Carneros fruit, showing aromas and flavors of cherry, rhubarb, Asian spice, damp earth and mild oak char, all finishing long and well integrated.  Give it a good decant and serve with duck confit over mushroom risotto if you’re so inclined.

2014 Ultimate Red Pinot Noir receives 93 points from WineReviewOnline2020-09-18T17:14:46+00:00

The Armchair Sommelier considers Calla Lily

China is one of the fastest growing global markets for wine today.  Based on OIV (International Organization for Vine and Wine) data for 2016, China is now the fifth largest consumer and importer of wines worldwide.  And, China is now the second largest country (behind Spain) in terms of surface area under vines.

I know, that kind of blew my mind, too. Historically, the Chinese have had a fairly strong attachment to the prestige and status of French wines, Bordeaux in particular.  A great deal of consumption was once focused on large official events, where Bordeaux was used more to impress than anything else.  With the rise of the middle class in China (and young professionals especially keen to learn more about wine), expensive Bordeaux imports have been waning, as Chinese wine drinkers seek out quality wines at more affordable prices.

Despite some inconsistent quality issues, Chinese wine satisfies 70% of the domestic market.  That said, France is the largest import market in China, followed by Australia, Spain, Chile, Italy and the US.  Although growth in Chinese imports slowed during the first three months of 2017, imports are still expected to grow overall, just more slowly.  Jean-Marie Aurand, Director-General of the OIV, remarked last year, “China remains the main driver of growth in the global wine industry.”

What does all this have to do with calla lilies and an assassin?  Stay with me . . .In 2016, Hong Kong was the third largest importer of U.S. wines; China the fifth.  Napa Valley wines have made particular inroads with the Chinese palate, and, during the past decade, Napa has seen a tremendous increase in the number of foreign investors, specifically from Hong Kong and mainland China.

Which brings me to Calla Lily Estate. Founded by Hong Kong based entrepreneurs, Anthony Fung and Andy Chui, Calla Lily Estate is located on site of the former Budge Brown Winery in Pope Valley (you might recall Napa vintner, Budge Brown died in a plane crash in 2011), which is on the east side of Napa Valley, northeast of Howell Mountain.

First planted in 1995, the estate vineyard consists of twelve acres of Cabernet Sauvignon, five acres of Petite Sirah and one acre each of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petite Verdot.  With the exception of direct winery and website sales, Calla Lily Estate wines are exported and sold in Hong Kong and China.

The calla lily was selected as the symbol for the estate because of its deep significance in China, where it is prized as a symbol of elegance, beauty, and purity.

Interesting:  The calla lily has its origins in southern Africa, but the calla lily isn’t really a lily, it’s actually a cousin to the philodendron.  I’ve always liked calla lilies, but I’ve never tried to grow them, but that’s about to change.  I especially love that calla lilies are blissfully unscented.  Regular lilies make me sneeze.

Also Interesting:  In western culture, white flowers represent innocence and purity, but in China, white flowers represent death, and are mostly found at funerals.  Red and pink are the colors life and of celebration.  I like that.

Even more interesting:  All parts of the calla lily are poisonous — they contain insoluble calcium oxalate crystals.  What that means is that if you get the sap on your skin or decide to taste one, you’ll be sorry.  Calcium oxalate causes a painful burning sensation on the skin, and a whole pile of fun stuff like nausea, vomiting, and swelling of the tongue when ingested.

At the helm of Calla Lily Estate is consulting winemaker, Cary Gott, a fourth-generation fixture in Napa Valley, with over 40 years of experience.  I’m fortunate to have had the opportunity to taste Mr. Gott’s Calla Lilies . . .

Ultimate Red 2014 Pinot Noir   /90
100% Pinot Noir sourced from Carneros.  Aged for 10 months in French oak.  A beautiful ruby color.  Graceful aromas of roses, cranberry, pomegranate, vanilla, clove, and earth.  Dry and medium-bodied with flavors of cranberry, cola, earth, red plum, kirsch, and toast.  Slightly acidic, but balanced by a soft, structured mouthfeel.  The alcohol skews a little high at 14.5% ABV, but doesn’t pull focus.

Ultimate Red 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon   /92
A precise blend of 81.6% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10.8% Merlot and 7.6% Cabernet Franc.  Sourced from Napa Valley.  Aged for 22 months in 43% new French oak.  Deep, opulent ruby color.  Vivid nose of violets, black currant, black cherry, tarragon, sage, vanilla, clove and butterscotch.  I could go on — there’s so much happening in this glass.  Dry, with high but balanced acid and tannins.  Flavors of black currant, white pepper, butterscotch, lavender, and sage.  Keenly balanced.  The finish is delightful.  14.1% ABV.

Sidebar:  I love the slight variation in calla lily color between the Pinot Noir label and the Cabernet Sauvignon label.  Nicely done!

2012 Audax   /91
The name, Audax, which is Latin for brave, bold, or daring, is a nod to the audacity of Napa Valley’s early wine pioneers.

Another precise blend of 89.3% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6.5% Petit Verdot, 4.1% Merlot and 0.1% Malbec.  The percentages read like a recipe to me, and I was momentarily amused (distracted) by imagining what the cooking measurement equivalent of 0.1% Malbec would be.  Aged for 26 months in 55% new French oak.  Deep ruby color.  Generous nose of black plum, black currant, vanilla, clove, toast, violet, and lavender.  I love it when I find lavender in a wine!  Dry with high acid, high tannins and high alcohol.  All in balance, and full, full bodied.  Flavors of violets, white pepper, bramble, kirsch, and nutmeg.  Will undoubtedly benefit from more time in bottle.  15.3% ABV.

Now, for that assassin I promised you.

Historical Sidebar:  Audax was also the name of an assassin.  Back in the days of the Roman Empire, the people living on the Iberian Peninsula (modern day Spain and Portugal), were led by a man named Viriathus, who had had been very successful in fending off repeated advances by the Roman Army.  As you might imagine, the Romans found this very annoying.  In 139 BC, Viriathus sent three of his commanders, AudaxDitalcus and Minurus, to the Roman General, Quintus Servilius Caepio, to negotiate a possible peace.  That turned out to be a bad move all around.  Audax, et al were bribed by QSC with a vague promise of riches and safety in exchange for killing their leader.  (Seriously?  They weren’t even a little suspicious??)  So, the not-especially-loyal trio went back to Viriathus and proceeded to kill him in his sleep.  When they returned to QSC to collect their bounty, they were executed, as QSC proclaimed, “Rome does not pay traitors who kill their chief.”  You see?  Bad move, all around.  But I suppose Audax lived up to his name.

I’m off to the garden center to buy myself a happy, red calla lily. Salud!

May 2017

The Armchair Sommelier considers Calla Lily2020-09-18T17:14:46+00:00

2014 Ultimate Red receives 93 points from James Suckling

93 points

Lots of blackcurrants, blueberries and walnuts on the nose. Full body, chewy and rich fruit and a firm yet velvety mouthfeel. Needs three or four years to come together.



May 5, 2017

2014 Ultimate Red receives 93 points from James Suckling2020-09-18T17:14:47+00:00

2014 Ultimate Red Pinot Noir rated Highly Recommended in May issue of California Grapevine

The 2014 Ultimate Red Pinot Noir was reviewed in the May issue of California Grapevine:

Highly Recommended. Medium-light ruby; spicy, cedary, cherry fruit aroma with earthy and herbal notes; medium to medium-full body; cedary, spicy, cherry and red currant flavors with some plushness in the mouthfeel; medium tannin; lingering aftertaste.

2014 Ultimate Red Pinot Noir rated Highly Recommended in May issue of California Grapevine2020-09-18T17:14:50+00:00

2013 Ultimate Red Cabernet Sauvignon rated Highly Recommended in May issue of California Grapevine

In the May 2017 issue of California Grapevine, the 2013 Ultimate Red Cabernet Sauvignon was rated:

Highly Recommended. Medium-dark ruby; ripe, plummy, toasty black cherry and blackberry fruit aroma with hints of tobacco and dried herbs; full body; rich, ripe, currant and dark berry fruit flavors with oaky undertones, a hint of dark chocolate, and some roughness on the finish; full tannin; lingering aftertaste. Approachable now, though deserving a few more years of bottle aging.

2013 Ultimate Red Cabernet Sauvignon rated Highly Recommended in May issue of California Grapevine2020-09-18T17:14:51+00:00

2013 Ultimate Red rated 93 points by James Suckling

In James Suckling’s November 23, 2016 article, The Top 100 Reds of Napa Valley 2016, the 2013 Ultimate Red was awarded 93 points and ranked #87 in the list of 100 wines.

93 points: A sleek and polished red with blackberry and lavender aromas and flavors. Medium to full body. Silky tannins. Drink or hold.


The list continues with many classics as well as relative newcomers. I tried to pick wines that excited me not so much for their flamboyance but for their beauty, complexity and balance. Drinkability, of course, is paramount and I think great wines are great from the beginning, whether from barrel or from bottle and through the years in the cellar.




2013 Ultimate Red rated 93 points by James Suckling2020-09-18T17:14:51+00:00

2012 Audax awarded 93 points from Tastings.com

93 Points, Gold Medal, Exceptional

Dark black ruby color. Fruity aromas of fig bar, chocolate flavored candies, sweet herbs, and cedar incense with a lightly tannic, soft, dryish full body and a complex, medium-long chocolate bread pudding, dried figs, tobacco, and creme brulee finish with cottony tannins and moderate oak. A big velvety Cabernet with spot-on structure and flavors.


2012 Audax awarded 93 points from Tastings.com2020-09-18T17:14:52+00:00

2013 Ultimate Red awarded 94 points from Tastings.com

94 Points, Gold Medal, Exceptional, Cellar Selection

Nearly opaque ruby black color. Complex aromas and flavors of fresh leather, salami, spice drops, and cherry cola with a chewy, vibrant, dryish full body and an epic, very long spiced raisins, pie crusts, anise and cedar, and cassis vinaigrette finish with chewy tannins and moderate oak. A big and bold Cab with grown-up structure that will really pop after a few years of cellaring.



2013 Ultimate Red awarded 94 points from Tastings.com2020-09-18T17:14:52+00:00

2014 Ultimate Pinot Noir awarded 93 points and “Exceptional” from Tastings.com

93 Points, Gold Medal, Exceptional, Cellar Selection

Dark dusty garnet color. Complex aromas and flavors of cranberry sauce, candied orange peel, tar, and rose petals with a slightly chewy, crisp, dry light-to-medium body and a medium-length fertile earth and cherry cola finish with well-integrated, medium, leafy tannins. A savory Napa Pinot Noir that nods to the old world.


2014 Ultimate Pinot Noir awarded 93 points and “Exceptional” from Tastings.com2020-09-18T17:14:52+00:00
Go to Top