Monday, November 30, 2009

Mr. Mike's Odd Tasting: Old California Cabernet and Blends

Mr. Mike at John's Marketplace sent out an email less than 24 hours prior to this event. $10 got you a taste of each wine, until they were gone, with some absolute blockbusters in the lineup...How on earth could I say no?!?

  • 1989 Kenwood Cabernet Sauvignon Artist Series - USA, California, Sonoma County
    A bit of funk on the nose at first. This wine was most certainly NOT over the hill and dead! Although starting to brick at the edges, this is drinking quite nicely for a 20 year-old cab. Dark fruits, some barnyard/earthiness, and cedar. Very smooth, with just a hint of tannins on the finish (still!). (90 pts.)

  • 1984 Mount Eden Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Bottled - USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains
    As noted by a previous taster below, this had a bit of musty funk at first. Several other tasters thought it corked. The mustiness blew off, and by the time I revisited this wine an hour later, it was gone completely. I'm again amazed by how young this 25 year-old wine seems. Great fruit, just starting to go into the browner side of maroon. Blackberry, currants and some barnyard funk. So tasty...surprisingly grippy tannins as well, even on my second tasting at the end of the event. What a thrill to drink. (94 pts.)

  • 1996 Mount Eden Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Old Vine Reserve - USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains
    Amazingly still quite young. Big black fruits and nice earthiness. Quite complex, with some minty flavors. Firm tannins on the finish...this has a long life ahead of it. (93 pts.)

  • 1993 Opus One - USA, California, Napa Valley
    This was like aged Bordeaux, with the cedar/pencil aspects. Very light in color, with lots of gravelly earth flavors. Raspberry fruit, maybe some currant or cranberry? Definitely the most complex wine in the lineup, so far, but the flavors don't grab me like some of the others did. (91 pts.)

  • 1994 Heitz Cellar Cabernet Sauvignon Bella Oaks - USA, California, Napa Valley, Oakville
    Surprisingly bold and firm, with chewy tannins and some "Rutherford Dust" characteristics. Blackberry fruit is smooth and lush, with additional flavors of earth and olives. The CT drinking window is way off...this has another 4-5 years in it. (92 pts.)

  • 2000 Justin Vineyard Isosceles - USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
    Having tasted a number of 2000 vintage Napa wines, including the 2000 Harlan "The Maiden" and 2000 Opus One, I was surprised to see such a flavorful wine from that vintage. It appears that Paso Robles wasn't affected by whatever weather killed the Napa harvest in 2000. This wine was the fruitiest of the bunch, with raspberry and spice, and nice tannins that were integrated perfectly. Although lacking the complexity I normally associate with Isosceles, this wine is by no means lacking flavor. (93 pts.)

  • 2005 Gundlach Bundschu Cabernet Sauvignon Rhinefarm Vineyard - USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Valley
    My least favorite of the tasting, probably just because it is so damn young! Quite tannic, this tasted much more like a Cab Franc or Malbec than Cab Sauv. Blueberry was the dominant fruit for me, with some very nice dirt. Not earthiness, this was DIRT. I could almost see the pebbles and earthworms as I sipped this. While it was tasty, most of the finer nuances were hidden behind the tannins. I'd recommend holding this one another 3-5 years, unless you like your Cabs young. (89 pts.)

Thanks to Mr. Mike for pulling most of these bottles from his private cellar and sharing them with us. I was surprised to see that not many showed up for this event, including none of my wine-loving friends. I just have to say that you all missed out on a wonderful tasting, with some really interesting and delicious wines!

As always, tasting notes are posted from CellarTracker.