Tasting of '95 & '96 Cabs - Saturday, October 10, 1998. Results from a tasting at the Wine Exchange in Orange, CA. Seventeen wines were poured for a tasting fee of $35.
The wines, in the order tasted:
'96 Laurel Glen, Quintana - North Coast. $11.99. Garnet ruby and
rusty in color. Nose of shoe polish and raspberry, with a touch of meat,
tar, and citrus. Very fresh and interesting nose. Medium mouthfeel. Nice,
sweet and chewy, if brief fruit. Long finish. Good stuff at a resonable
'96 Rocking Horse, Garvey Family Vnyd - Rutherford. $20.99. Purple
garnet ruby color. Nose of shoe polish, raspberry, sweet licorace, with
floral aspects. Chewy, succulent, and sweet mouthfeel. Ripe black cherry
fruit that is smooth and seamless on the palate. Has a bit of coarseness
to back palate, but not excessively so.
'96 Woodward Canyon, Artist Series #5 - Canoe Ridge, WA. $25.99.
Garnet rust in color. Nose of shoe polish and raspberry, with a some floral
and even tobacco tones. Fleshy and sweet in the mouth. Very nice, if a
bit crisp and possibly underipe on toward the very long finish.
'95 Optima - Alexander Valley. $22.99. Garnet ruby color, with
a purple edge. Deep, though not necessarily complex nose of shoe polish,
anise, and blackberry. Very concentrated mouthfeel of slightly underipe
fruit, that is thick and chewy, with a touch of underipe quality to finish.
'95 Burgess, Vintage Selection - Napa Valley. $17.99. Ruby garnet
color. Nose of black cherry, shoe polish, rose petal, and anise. Very
chewy in mouthfeel, the initially sweet fruit slowly becomes a bit bitter
at mid-palate. Long smooth finish, with a trace of heat.
'95 David Arthur, Meritaggio - Napa Valley. $24.99. Dark garnet-ruby
and slightly rusty in color. Fascinating nose that seems fleshy and fruity,
but also has an integrated citric and/or not-too-intrusive vegetal quality
as well. Sweet, chewy mouthfeel. Long, if slightly off-sweet and toasty
finish. 75% Cab with additional percentages of Cabernet Franc, Merlot,
Petite Verdot and Sangiovese.
'96 Signorello, Estate - Napa Valley. $29.99. Ruby garnet color.
Nose of black cherry, anise, black raspberry, and toast. Beautiful! With
a mouthful of sweet fruit, the wine has a crisp backbone that provides
excellent balance. Hint of sourness to fruit on long finish.
'95 Elyse, Tietjen Vnyd - Rutherford. $23.99. Ruby garnet color.
Interesting nose of raspberry, fennel, shoe polish, tomato, and singed
wood. Good mouthfeel with slightly sweet fruit and a long toasty finish.
'95 Hedges, Red Mountain Reserve - Columbia Valley, WA. $29.99.
Dark purple ruby garnet color. Concentrated nose of black cherry, anise,
blackberry, and strawberry. Very nice! Good thick mouthfeel, with a slightly
off-sweet quality to fruit, and soft tannins. Smooth, long and toasty
finish. About 50/50 Cab and Merlot.
'95 Anderson's Conn Valley - Napa Valley. $39.99. Medium ruby
garnet color. Wow! Nose of sweet black cherry, strawberry, anise, orange
zest, and ...I can hardly believe it...a BLT! Smells good enough to eat.
Young and still tannic mouthfeel, fruit is nonetheless very forward, sweet,
and beautiful. Long and slightly off-sweet finish.
'95 Altamura - Napa Valley. $35.99. Medium dark ruby color. Nose
of raspberry and strawberry fruit, with additional notes of shoe polish,
anise and tomato. Slightly sweet fruit and mouthfeel. Perfect balance,
smooth and seamless fruit, with a massively long finish. Excellent stuff.
'95 Paul Hobbs, Liparita Vnyd - Howell Mtn. $39.99. Medium dark
ruby garnet color. Nose of raspberry, shoe polish, beet, and tomato. Real
interesting, if not quite correct. In the mouth, the fruit starts out
off-sweet, then gets a bit sour and quickly fades at finish. A little
too high in acid or light in fruit.
'95 Lail Vineyards, J. Daniel Cuvee - Napa Valley. $n/a. (about
$85) Medium dark ruby garnet color. Nose of sweet raspberry, anise, and
dusty black cherry fruit. Very interesting nose. Very concentrated and
chewy mouthfeel. Excellent balance, with smooth fruit and soft tannins.
Nice job, here. From Robin Lail, the former proprietress of Dominus.
'95 Joseph Phelps, Insignia - Napa Valley. $n/a. (about $60) Dark
ruby garnet color, with purple tones. Nose of shoe polish, burnished wood,
sweet fruit. Just fabulous. Sweet and chewy mouthfeel, with perfect balance,
and very long and smooth finish. Flat-out beautiful...again.
'96 Kendall Jackson, Cardinale - Napa Valley. $n/a. (about $60)
Dark ruby garnet color. Nose of fruit, shoe polish, and anise. Very deep
and concentrated nose that seems a bit leafy. Slightly off-sweet fruit,
the wine seems thick and chewy in the mouth, but the fruit appears a bit
lacking in intensity.
'95 Dalla Valle - Napa Valley. $n/a. Dark ruby garnet color. Dense
nose of sweet succulent fruit, shoe polish, and anise. This nose is just
perfect and absolutely gorgeous! Massive mouthful of fruit and tannins.
Very forward on the palate, with huge finish. Incredible wine. 87% Cab,
13% Cab Franc.
'95 Opus One - Napa Valley. $84.99. Medium dark ruby garnet color.
Nose of cassis, beet, shoe polish, and anise. Woodsy fruit on the palate,
with a nice blend of cassis and oak.
Overall impressions: nice grouping of Cabs at this tasting; not
a bad wine in the bunch. The Altamura and Hedges appeared to be the biggest
bargains, with top quality and sub-$40 pricing. The Della Valle was just
a knockout wine, but a tad pricey for my wallet. Still, if I happened
The Insignia, Conn Valley, and Opus One were just shades from each other
in my poll, with yet another success story for the Insignia. Lail has
done a very nice job 1st time out of the gate, and the Signorello
was also nearly a contender for top tier. The Rocking Horse was a bit
of a surprise. They seem have handily exceeded their previous efforts
with this fine wine. The KJ just seems to carry too high an acid/fruit
ratio for my tastes. The Hobbs and Woodward Cyn were disappointments,
though still very nice wines.
Here is my relative ranking, by tier and in order of preference, of the wines tasted.
'95 Dalla Valle - Napa Valley. $n/a
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