Mostly '96 Cabs
Tasted some more '96 Cabs, as well as a few others at a tasting at the Wine Exchange - Saturday, May 8, 1999. Eighteen wines were poured for a tasting fee of $34. Five of the selections were bagged, and tasted single-blind. All of the wines were double decanted several hours prior to tasting. A sticky was thrown in at the end.
The wines, in the order tasted:
'97 Young's Estate - Shenandoah Valley, Amador County. $14.99.
Garnet ruby color. Nose of black cherry, vanilla , anise toasty oak, sweet
orange and sweet wood. Sweet black cherry fruit, very elegant and smooth.
Sweet medium-long finish, with a touch of stems.
'97 Alexander Valley Vineyards - Alexander Valley. $12.49. Medium
garnet ruby color. Nose of semi-sweet cassis fruit, earth, shoe polish,
anise, tar, and Orange zest. Off sweet fruit, medium mouthfeel, and medium-long
off-sweet finish, with a slight grip at the end.
'96 Phoenix Vineyards - Napa Valley. $15.99. Medium garnet ruby
color. Nose of earthy cassis and tar, with notes of redwood and orange.
Sweet black cherry fruit gets a bit sour at mid-palate, but finishes with
a brief sweet note.
'96 Cakebread - Napa Valley. $31.99. Tasted single-blind. Medium
garnet ruby color. Nose of wood-fired oven, cassis, earth and herbs. Big
mouthfeel, polished tannins, very long toasty and crisp finish. Sweet
fruit continues on and on.
'96 Kenwood - Jack London Vnyd, Sonoma Valley. $24.99. Medium
dark ruby garnet color. Nose of cassis, chocolate, sweet wood, toast,
vanilla, and some mint. Sweet black cherry fruit and cassis fruit, with
a chewy mid-palate, nice balance, polished tannins, and sweet smooth long
finish. This is the best Jack London Cab in years.
'96 Peter Michael - Les Pavots, Napa Valley. $n/a. Tasted
single-blind. Dark ruby garnet color. Deep nose of black cherry, cassis,
shoe polish, oranges zest, and vanilla. What a killer nose! Big mouthfull
of black cherry and cassis fruit, chewy and seamless mouthfeel, great
balance, medium-long sweet finish, with a nice bite at the end.
'96 Murphy-Goode Reserve - Alexander Valley. $27.99. Medium dark
ruby garnet color. Nose of cassis, shoe polish, burnished oak, anise,
mint, and a touch of newsprint. Young and tannic mouthfeel, semi-sweet
fruit. Good balance and very long finish.
'95 Jordan - Alexander Valley. $29.99. Tasted single-blind. Medium
ruby garnet color. Very closed nose - nearly neutral. Barely a hint of
earthy and smoky cassis. Starved for fruit, there seems to be a chewy
core of something. Toasty mouthfeel, with a thin fruit finish.
'96 Napanook - Napa Valley. $24.99. Medium garnet ruby color.
Nose of sweet earthy cassis, black cherry, toast, and a floral quality.
Smooth mouthfeel, slightly sweet black cherry and cassis fruit. Sweet
expansive fruit on the palate; medium-long smooth finish. This junior
Dominus is more elegant than prolific.
'96 Melka Matisse - Napa Valley. $42.99. Medium garnet ruby color.
Nose of cassis, shoe polish, , black cherry, and toast - a bit reserved,
but nice. Wow - big mouthfull of sweet chewy black cherry and cassis fruit.
Very long and tasty finish. What a stunner!
'96 Fife Reserve - Napa Valley. $31.99. Medium-dark ruby garnet
color. Nose of sweet black cherry, toast, anise, oak, and a hint of stems.
Killer nose! Toasty and slightly sweet mouthfeel. Nice chewy fruit, polished
tannins, and nice long, long finish.
'96 Thunder Mountain Star Ruby - Bates Ranch, Santa Cruz Mtns. $39.99.
Medium dark garnet ruby color. Quite herbal and earthy nose. Notes of
chocolate, mocha, vitamins, smoke, wood, and toast. The nose is very interesting,
even appealing, and when the earthiness blows off a bit, the nose seems
quite nice. Sweet and very chewy fruit. What a steak of a wine! Major
mouth clinging sensation, and very long finish.
'96 Ritchie Creek - Napa Valley. $25.99. Dark purple ruby garnet
color. Nose of cassis, blueberry, major vanilla, shoe polish, and cocoa.
Fantastic! Off-sweet chewy black cherry and cassis fruit. Toasty, long,
long finish, and the fruit never stops!
'96 Oakville Ranch - Napa Valley. $34.99. Dark ruby garnet color.
Slightly sour black cherry fruit, with hints of shoe polish and petroleum.
Big, sweet/sour fruit, ample tannins, and long finish.
'94 Keenan - Spring Mtn, Napa Valley. $16.99. Dark garnet ruby
color. Sweet nose of cassis, black cherry, anise, shoe polish, vanilla,
smoke, and caramelized fruit. Very concentrated mouthfeel, black cherry
fruit, obvious tannic coarseness on palate, long finish, and the fruit
goes on forever. This is a pretty fine wine at any price. But, at $17,
it's a no-brainer.
'96 Laurel Glen - Sonoma Mtn. $33.99. Dark purple ruby color.
Big nose of black cherry, shoe polish, cassis, and blackberry. Huge fruit,
and very chewy mouthfeel. Expansive palate, sweet long finish that never
seems to stop.
'96 Joseph Phelps Insignia - Napa Valley. $69.99. Dark ruby garnet
color. Nose of black cherry, cassis, cinnamon, wood, toast, vanilla and
plum. Wow! Huge fruit, and very chewy mouthfeel. Expansive palate, sweet
long finish that never seems to stop.
'96 Kendall-Jackson Cardinale - Napa Valley. $79.99. Dark garnet
ruby color. Nose of cassis, cinnamon, toast, caramelized sweet onion.
Sounds strange, but smelled great. Big and chewy mouthfull of sweet fruit.
Some coarseness at mid-palate, but finishes up very nicely.
NV Don Pedro Ximenez - Montilla-Moriles, Spain. $16.99. Medium-dark
amber color. Very pungent nose of citron, hazelnut, and praline. On the
palate...well, this is a short stack with a side of extra Canadian maple
Nice lineup, and the idea of bagging a few of the wines worked well. Winners: the Ritchie Creek was a knockout! The always delicious Phelps Insignia and Peter Michael wines were very nice. The Cakebread and Kenwood were nice surprises, and Melka has another, if pricier, winner (in addition to the "CJ"). Keenan delivered the best bargain in the flight, with K-J Cardinale being the biggest wallet denter. The Young's Estate from Amador County shows just how far this appellation has branched out from its bruiser Zins.
The Oakville Ranch and Murphy-Goode were respectable, if
not spectacular. And the Thunder Mtn was one monster of a big wine.
On the down side, Jordan has clearly lost its way.
Here is my relative ranking, by tier and in order of preference, of the wines tasted.
'96 Ritchie Creek - Napa Valley. $25.99
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