Thursday, June 25, 2009

Who Says California Wine Doesn't Age?

Inspired by a friend who turned me onto a 1991 Dominus some months back, I proposed to our tasting group that I source a few 1991’s and we compare 18-year-old Napa Cabernet. As my inclinations are almost always old world (I will generally pull an Italian or French wine as my “go to” wine) this tasting might be the one to start to alter my thinking.

These wines were all amazing. They had some things in common from a profile perspective but they were all distinct and delicious. Not a corked or damaged wine in the bunch and a fantastic experience overall.

We tasted the wines blind and none were decanted. The group’s overwhelming favorite was the Insignia. But we decided this might not be fair because the Insignia had 10% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc, so not a “true” Cabernet. My blind favorite was the Montelena (along with one other person).

This is the order they ended up being served blind.

1991 Laurel Glen Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
Very good. Fleshy, easy fruit. Good aromatics. Dark red berries and earth.

1991 Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Napa Valley
More complex than #1. Higher acid. Some good funk in the nose. Cherries. Mint. Forest floor.

1991 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley
Silky. Tar in the nose. Intense. Gobs of fruit on the palate.

1991 Joseph Phelps Insignia Napa Valley
Tomatoes and Twizzlers in the nose. Nice brightness. Rich. Good balance.

1991 Dunn Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
Dusty. Rich red fruit. Bright acidity and a little funk in the finish.

1991 Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
Red candied nose. Silky texture. Great balance of intensity and richness. Well done.

Go find some quality older California wines and see for yourself.

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