I’ve been lucky. I’ve tasted all the above mentioned California Cabernet wines several times over the last decade. While none of these wines seemed old or the least bit tired, I am not sure any were much better or different than the day they were released. This is just my opinion, but the top California Cabernet Sauvignon do last. They re not in danger of dropping their fruit. But I am not sure they improve or gain enough complexity or nuance to warrant years of cellaring.
With my favorite wine tasting group, “7 Blind Men”, you never know what wines will be opened. The inaugural dinner of the year, with its divergent array of wines. was no exception. The flights were varied. We had a flight of 1961 Bordeaux, a mini vertical of Grange with 71, 76, 86 and 98 and two flights devoted to California Cult wines including Harlan Estate, Bryant Family, Colgin Cellars and Screaming Eagle.
This group is devoted to blind tasting. All the notes and comments were taken before the wines were revealed.
California Cabernet Sauvignon
1997 Bryant Family – Licorice, coffee, blackberry, coca, earth, truffle and tobacco scents made up the perfume. On the palate, the wine feels lush. The powerful, velvet textured blackberry, chocolate and jam finish is long, clean and pure. 97
1997 Screaming Eagle – Licorice, charcoal, black cherry, blueberry and coffee aromas pour out of the glass as quickly as the wine leaves the bottle. Elegant, balanced, deep and round in texture, this sexy wine is filled with polished, sweet, ripe berries and chocolate. 98 Pts
1997 Harlan – Smoke, blackberry liqueur, blueberries, cassis, spice and toasty oak aromas were all over the place. Powerful, concentrated and intense, this mouth filling wine coats your palate with waves of juicy ripe berries. Like all the bottles from this evening, the Harlan Estate was served blind. I bring this up so that you know, out of a table with 8 people, not one taster mentioned finding VA in the this particular bottle. 99 Pts
1997 Colgin Herb Lamb – Smoke, coffee, licorice, fresh coffee beans, blueberries, blackberries and chocolate aromas mane up the powerful aromas. Silky, elegant and rich, the wine coats your mouth with layers of fruit that feels like it was polished with velvet before being crushed. 97 Pts
California Pinot Noir
1999 Marcassin Marcassin Vineyard Pinot Noir – Coffee, earth, black raspberries and jammy strawberries led into a richly textured, deep wine with silky textures. The finish ended with jammy red and black fruits, espresso and hints of citrus oil. 96 Pts
1999 Marcassin Blue Slide Ridge – Black cherry, truffle earth, spice and coca aromatics led into a big, lush, powerful, high alcohol Pinot Noir. This is not a wallflower of a wine.
1999 Kistler Pinot Noir Cuvee Elizabeth – The debut vintage for this wine showed coffee, blackberry, smoke and truffle aromas were easy to find. This big, full bodied wine, with velvet textures, might show too much oak for some tasters. The wine at 12 years of age ended with licorice, coffee, and jammy berries.
1999 Kistler Cuvee Catherine – Coffee, earth, black raspberries and jammy strawberries led into a richly textured, deep wine with silky textures. The finish ended with jammy red and black fruits, espresso and hints of citrus oil.
1975 Chateau d’Yquem is a contender for the most consistent 100 Pt wine I have ever tasted. Bottle after bottle has been stunning and this 5 Yquem was no exception. With a copper, orange color, honey covered apricots, floral aromas, pineapples, creme brulee, coconut and tropical aromas explode in front of your nose. Viscous, opulent, packed and stacked with endless waves of deep, juicy, spicy, honey drenched fruit, your mouth, teeth and gums are coated with pleasure .Everything is on balance. The perfect amount of acidity keeps the wine, fresh and lively. The seamless finish lasts well over a minute. If you have the money and want to experience Yquem at its best, this is it! 100 Pts