Flock Tasting of 1970s Cal Cabs

Chicago, IL
Tasted Friday, December 15, 2006 by Nanda with 448 views

Introduction

The Wine Flock gathered for an interesting and educational tasting of California Cabernet Sauvignon wines from the 1970s. As a group, the wines were alive, kicking and rewarded ~30 years of patience. For me, there were a a few outstanding bottles in the bunch ... and many solid wines.

The group in general was pleased and surprised with the wines' performance. Some notable insights included: (a) subtlety of alcohol [most in the 12 to 13% range], (b) their resemblance to Bordeaux rather than current day Cal Cabs and (c) the wines' ability to sustain / improve with a couple of hours of air.

All wines after the welcome whites were tasted blind.

Flight 1 - WELCOME WHITES (2 Notes)

Flight 2 - WINE A (1 Note)

  • 1978 Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Georges de Latour Private Reserve 88 Points

    USA, California, Napa Valley

    Ruby red at the core and lightened at the rim. Aromatic nose of herbs, cedar, cassis fruit and tea. The palate has elegant aged fruit, resolved tannins and enough acidity to keep this moving through the mid-palate. Finish is somewhat hollow. This started to fade after ~1 hour in the glass. Very nice and a great snapshot of BV's bygone hay days. My #7, Group #8.

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Flight 3 - WINE B (1 Note)

Performed heads-and-tails better than another 79 BV GdL bottle later in the tasting. Brian passed along some comments from RP where he noted BV in the late 70s stood for "bottle variation" --- case in point tonight.

Flight 4 - WINE C (1 Note)

Flight 5 - WINE D (1 Note)

The first outstanding wine for me. Much more complete than the first three.

  • 1976 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Lot 2 91 Points

    USA, California, Napa Valley

    Dark ruby at the core with no fading. Nose starts youthfully tight with cassis and cedar. Opens to offer graphite and vanillin. The palate belies its age with a medium body of pure, focused fruits and chalky tannins. Well balanced and vibrant. Cassis and minerals in the medium-lengthed finish. Outstanding. My #4, Group #5.

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Flight 6 - WINE E (1 Note)

Another outstanding wine --- and so much upside left. Excellent experience ... thanks Frank! Group's WOTN.

  • 1978 Diamond Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Gravelly Meadow 93 Points

    USA, California, Napa Valley, Diamond Mountain

    Dark ruby with no signs of fading. Aromatic and giving nose of fresh cassis fruits, cedar, tar and vanillin. Big and brawny on the palate with concentrated fruit and still prickly tannins. Black currants, green herbs and pronounced mint. Powerful and seamless through to a long finish. Early maturity with more time on the aging curve. Outstanding --- begging for a steak. My #3, Group #1.

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Flight 7 - WINE F (1 Note)

This one squeaked into the theme ... but no one was complaining.

  • 1980 Grgich Hills Cabernet Sauvignon 88 Points

    USA, California, Napa Valley

    Ruby in color with a light rim. A very faint nose of cassis and green herbs. Palate has life that the nose never presented --- offering concentrated fruit and tannin. Dark currants, cedar and tobacco leaf. A dichatomy between the nose and palate, yielding an OK end result. My #5, Group #3.

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Flight 8 - WINE G (1 Note)

A great ringer --- but one that many nailed as non California. A tremendous and unique nose.

  • 1978 Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 93 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac

    Very light ruby and faded at the rim. Striking nose of green herbs, tobacco, violets, licorice, cedar and cassis --- giving this away as the Bordeaux ringer, for sure. Elegantly aged fruits and melded tannins on the palate. Underlying acidity gives great lift to the dark fruits. Accented with green herbs and cedar. Outstanding. My #2, Group #2.

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Flight 9 - WINE H (1 Note)

My WOTN. This was a real treat. At once both youthful and elegantly mature. There was some talk that a Heitz Martha's was in the line up and many guessed this was it due to its pronounced eucalyptus notes.

  • 1973 Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma County 94 Points

    USA, California, Sonoma County

    Dark ruby in color with no fading. A generous, powerful and complex nose of dark currant, blueberry, chocolate, violets, eucalyptus, cedar and vanilla. Great depth on the palate. Concentrated fruit and silky tannins. Minty dark fruits, cedar, herbs and vanilla spice. Long and youthful. Montelena's first cab. In no way does this resemble a 30+ year old wine. My WOTN, Group #4.

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Flight 10 - WINE I (1 Note)

The only real stinker of the lot.

Flight 11 - DESSERT (1 Note)

The Weil is on another level --- it'll be a thrill to drink my remaining three over a long, long period of time! Ken also had a non-descript 75 Sauternes that was over-the-hill --- but still fun to taste blind.

Closing

What a great view into the wines of a bygone era --- thanks to all for the wines and company!

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