Santa Rosa Fine Wine

California Cabernet Wine Tasting Notes

1958 Louis Martini California Mountain Cabernet - An exceptional wine! Some bricking, a medium bodied wine with earth, mint, leather, tobacco, and forest floor, all combined with a hint of structure that carried the wine over several hours. Top wine of the tasting! Jun 2011

1966 Louis Martini Mountain Cabernet - Second time tasting the 66 Martini in the past few years, found this wine as good as the first. Youthful, balanced and highly age worthy. It kept giving layer after layer of complexity the longer it sat in the glass. No rush to open, will improve with additional bottle aging. Aug 2013

1967 Heitz Martha - An excellent, elegant, highly age worthy wine! Heitz Martha is noted for its tell tale eucalyptus nose, and this wine had it, though subtle. Amazing fruit, tannin and acid balance with a mix of herbs, spice, meat and earth. A lighter to medium bodied wine, noted no signs of oxidation. There is no rush to open this wine, several hours after first opening, the wine maintained its profile. It has a long future ahead of it. Overall, thought it was an outstanding wine and wine of the flight. Aug 2012

1968 Louis Martini California Mountain Lot No. 1 Special Selection Cabernet - An interesting white pepper Zinfandel like spice, cognac, with bigger, more rounded full bodied fruit. A complete, rustic wine that showed very well, and more mature than the 66. Jun 2011

1969 Louis Martini California Mountain Cabernet - Distinct raspberry fruit, good structure, earthy and subdued. The wine was excellent. Along with the 66 and 68 Special Selection, the 60’s flight as a whole showed far superior to all other flights. Jun 2011

1973 Beaulieu Vineyards Georges de Latour - The best showing of the 1973 we have tasted to date. Some bricking, carmel, butterscotch and light bodied fruit well in balance. The finish is mature and subtle, a good showing for the wine. Dec 2013

1973 Louis Martini California Mountain Cabernet - A clean, nice drinking wine, stewed red fruit, fresh cut grass, notable acidity and good balance. Thought this was easily wine of the flight. Second time tasting this wine, showed consistent. Jun 2011

1974 Phelps Insignia - The best California Cabernet we have ever tasted! The color was deep, dark and youthful without any signs of bricking. On the nose and palate, a Bordeaux like quality of intense, silky, big dark fruits, mint and lightly floral. Clean and layered on the palate, had power without being overdone, and a stagging finish that was both seductive and structured. From first pour, through the end of the bottle, maintained a consistent style, yet gave layer after layer of complexity. A youthful wine that could be easily aged for decades. Wine of the night, and the most memorable California Cabernet experience I have ever had. A stellar absolutely perfect wine! Jun 2012

1975 Beaulieu Vineyards Georges de Latour - The same taste profile as the 1973 however a little more density to the fruit. Fully mature, it has held together beautifully and drinking well now. Do not expect it to improve with cellar age, enjoyable now and many years forward. Dec 2013

1975 Louis Martini California Cabernet - Grassy, not a lot else going on in this wine, it improved slightly in time, but overall, just an ok effort. Expected a lot more from the 70’s flight as a whole, it was overshadowed by the 60’s. Jun 2011

1977 Heitz Martha - A close second for wine of the flight. Enjoyed it for very different reasons. The wine had a more liquor quality to it, yet with a rustic backbone that became baked fruits in time. A big nose, more powerful fruit in contrast to the 1967, wondered if this wine could be the 1967 with another 10 years of age? Like the 1967, no signs of oxidation, and plenty of potential for continued aging. An excellent drinking wine. Aug 2012

1978 Diamond Creek Volcanic - Similar to the Insignia, a very rare wine. Also like the Insignia, showed very Bordeaux like, though dryer and slightly more mature in contrast. It was served a touch warm which took away from the wine, but could still appreciate the underlying material. Also a dark fruit wine, more tart, and showed some bandaid brett, which was distracting to me, not as pronounced to others. Balance, structure and overall density of the wine was excellent. A very good wine! Jun 2012

1978 Louis Martini La Loma Napa Valley Cabernet - Tight, closed and green, took a while to open up, once it did, took on a slightly richer liquor quality. If recalled correctly, this vineyard was replanted in the early to mid 1970’s. Jun 2011

1980 Heitz Martha - Some mint, tight, lean, some background spice, it picked up steam the more it sat in the glass, but never quite achieved the level of complexity or greatness like that from the 1967 and 1977. This was just an ok wine, more one dimensional, it had all the tell tale characteristics of Heitz Martha, just toned down on every front. There would be no additional benefit to continue aging this wine. Overall, just ok. Aug 2012

1981 Beaulieu Vineyards Georges de Latour - The most mature drinking of all the wines tasted, and from a challenging vintage, the wine showed more oxidative qualities than the 1973 and 1975. Rounder in style, it should be opened in the near future. Dec 2013

1984 Stags Leap SLV Cabernet - The wine of the afternoon, the Stags Leap was nothing short of stunning. Perfectly mature with no signs of decline, full bodied without being a fruit bomb, structure that lightly presents itself in the background adding character without distracting. A refined, balanced and complex wine made in an old school Calfiornia style. Astute customers reading this blog might realize we have ten bottles left in stock, and from the same case as this bottle sampled. Aug 2013

1985 Joseph Phelps Eisele Cabernet - Another outstanding Cabernet, the Joseph Phelps showed far more youthful than the Stags Leap. This wine easily took an hour plus to even begin to show the slight beginning of its full character. Dark fruit, menthol, and highly balanced. It is a shame that Joseph Phelps let this vineyard get away, they did an exceptional job with Eisele. If opened in the near term, best to enjoy over a long evening as it will likely change considerably over time. Aug 2013

1985 Louis Martini Monte Rosso Cabernet - The best wine of the flight, also showed the most youthful. Noted almost a barrel sample like quality, a medium body, and slight notes of mint. Thought the wine showed very well and highly enjoyable with time in the glass. Jun 2011

1986 Beaulieu Vineyards Georges de Latour - A fun wine, have always loved the 1986. This bottle did not disappoint. I kept the sample in my glass a little longer than other samples. Had some funkiness up front that blew off quickly and turned into a beautiful well balanced wine. This wine will continue to age gracefully for years. Dec 2013

1986 Louis Martini Monte Rosso Cabernet - More substantial fruit than the 87, but an oxidized component that was distracting and unpleasant. Another really good California Cabernet vintage, thought this was an off bottle. Jun 2011

1987 Louis Martini Sonoma County Cabernet - Grassy, somewhat vegetal, green and one dimensional. Did not find the wine particularly enjoyable or appealing. Generally speaking, really enjoy 1987 California Cabernet, but this one was a disappointment. Jun 2011

1987 Philip Togni Cabernet - First time tasting the 1987 Togni, found it interesting. A very good wine that showed slightly on the leaner side, with a slight green streak. The wine did not show the depth of other 1987 vintage California Cabernet, went away thinking it was best to drink this particular wine sooner rather than later. Knowing the Togni style of wine, it is entirely possible the wine was simply shut down. Aug 2013

1987 Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet - Have tasted this wine easily a dozen plus times over the years, and this was one of the best examples tasted to date! It remains a youthful, mind blowing wine. Pure fruit, highly structured, subtle menthol finish, textbook old school California Cabernet. Have long considered this one of the top California Cabernet made in the exceptional 1987 vintage. Aug 2013

1990 Beaulieu Vineyards Georges de Latour - My favorate Georges de Latour of the tasting, found this one textbook 1990 California Cabernet. Bigger fruit, more leather and game, perfect balance, a wine that will keep giving back new dimensions the longer you drink it over time. Dec 2013

1990 Heitz Martha - Far riper than the previous three bottles tasted, thought it third best wine of the flight. It had clean, deeper red fruit, some chocolate, and more perceivable eucalyptus than the other wines opened. Maintained a consistent style through the bottle. About a glass remained, and revisited the next day. Still a very big style of Heitz Martha, showed better on day two. The wine will benefit significantly with additional cellar aging. Aug 2012

1991 Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet - A wonderful end of meal wine, black fruits, compact, complex, and balanced, had everything that reminded me why I love 1991 California Cabernet. Oct 2011

1991 Dalla Valle Cabernet - Grassy, tea, forest floor, exotic game, minerality, thought this was a great Cabernet. Tannin is still quite firm, with darker fruits. One of our favorite producers, the wine was excellent, and made in a more old school style. Apr 2012

1992 Ridge Monte Bello - Chalky, aged, mineral, sweet, a little simple at first, nuanced and complex later. Really enjoyed this wine, and was more inclined to think it was a younger French wine over an older California. This flight as a whole showed better than the previous two. Oct 2011

1993 Louis Martini Monte Rosso Cabernet - After quite a few wines among eight people in attendance, we never got around to trying Louis Martini Cabernet from the 1990’s to present, so opened one the day after as a reference point. Immediately on opening, noted a pleasant sweet chocolate nose. On the palate, a wine far more extracted and jammy than anything tasting prior, big raspberry fruit dominates the wine. After about two hours, it started to finally balance out, yet remained full bodied. Overall thought it was a delightful wine, though a significant departure from all other wines tasted at this lunch. Jun 2011

1996 Peter Michael Les Pavot - Another wine we have tasting many times. The interesting thing about the 1996 Les Pavot is how different the fruit intensity has been from bottle to bottle. Most of the time, the fruit is very big and powerful. This bottle showed more shut down this time. A good drinking wine, though not entirely to expectations. Dec 2012

1996 Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet - A clean, textbook mid 90’s California Cabernet. There was nothing out of place with this wine. Have sampled quite a few 96 California Cabernet, and this was typical of the vintage, has been ready to drink for years and will remain so for many years to come. Very enjoyable. Aug 2013

1997 Beaulieu Vineyards Clone 4 Reserve Cabernet - An excellent vintage, 1997 is always challenging to access because most of the top California wines are just starting to come around now. This wine was no different, tight and restrained. A good wine to revisit in a few years and see how it is coming around. Dec 2013

1998 Far Niente Cabernet - A hot year, where nearly half the harvest was lost, noted black tea, cognac, cherry. Light bricking, a wine that tasted old school. A very good drinking wine from a historically challenging vintage. Apr 2012

1999 Beaulieu Vineyards Clone 6 Reserve Cabernet - Round fruit, easy drinking, a pleasant wine. No signs of oxidation, but mature and ready to drink. Dec 2013

2000 Bond Vecina - A vintage that was not particularly hot or cold, no frost, no major climate challenges. Noted a vanilla quality immediately, soft tannins, with a more notable finish than mid palate. Beginning to show its age, showed better as it sat in the glass. Apr 2012

2001 Araujo Eisele Cabernet - Initially did not like this wine, had a good bit of vanilla which I generally dislike in California Cabernet, and a simple style. However, this was an example of a wine that improved considerably with time in the glass, full bodied, and held up well to the meat course. May 2012

2001 Bond Melbury - Cherry liquor, bright, thick and full bodied, initially thought it was a Shafer Hillside, but then it took on some vanilla qualities, which I never associated with the Hillside Select. Definitely a wine to drink with a big steak, it was huge! Oct 2011

2002 Rudd Oakville Cabernet - A leaner, more tannic wine, thought it was more balanced and age worthy than the previous wines tasted. Subtle mint on the nose was appealing. One of the better 2002 California Cabernets tasted in some time. Apr 2012

2004 Beaulieu Vineyards Clone 4 Reserve Cabernet - Next to the 1990 Georges de Latour, the top wine of the tasting. Impeccable balance, subtle nuanced characteristics, excellent medium bodied fruit, would love to sit down over a long evening. Dec 2013

2005 Heitz Martha - A far different style than any of the wines tasted, more blue fruits than red, big, sweet, almost barrel sample like. Made in a more modern California Cabernet style. Overall, thought it was disappointing from a vintage we have tasted so many nice wines. Perhaps with additional cellar aging, it will come around. A wine worth revisiting in the future. Aug 2012

2005 Bond Vecina - A classic vintage, again noted some vanilla, clean, and like the 2000, got a lot better as it sat in the glass. A powerful wine, did not pickup any heat, and thought it had more notable oak than the previous wine. An excellent wine. Apr 2012

2006 Beaulieu Vineyards Georges de Latour - 2006 and 2008 have been two of our least favorite vintages of the last few decades, BV however is one of those rare exceptions to the rule. A fantastic wine, delicate, restrained and consisent. Think the wine will turn into something special with additional cellar aging. Dec 2013

2008 Far Niente Cabernet - A small harvest, grapes were on the vine much longer than usual. Made in a more modern style, the wine was bright, yet had a dense and clean mouthfeel. A great drinking wine. Apr 2012

2008 Rudd Oakville Cabernet - Initally, thought the wine was more one dimension, big ripe vanilla fruit, with a touch of funk. With time in the glass, got cleaner with a nice chalky finish. With firm acidity, and dry tannin, thought it was just an ok wine. Apr 2012

2009 Dalla Valle Cabernet - Distinctly modern in style, ripe, big blue fruits, some vanilla creaminess. Not entirely sure this wine is built for the long term. Came across as a wine that would be best opened young. A good wine to revisit. Apr 2012