American Belle 2nd Edition

Switzerland

Tasted November 12, 2013 by Wine_lvr with 151 views

Introduction

Our annual US Best Bottle tasting. This time around with many Cult wines and high-scoring bottles. On paper this should have been an amazing tasting. Overall it was amazing but at the same the many flawed bottles showed once more that the provenance of bottles is key, especially if they are more than 10 years old. Several of the wines were purchased at Online Wine auction platforms and were just in bad condition...notably Grace Family 1992, 1994 and Dalla Valle Maya 1997 were dead.

Flight 1 (4 notes)

Red
1981 Dunn Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain USA, California, Napa Valley, Howell Mountain
flawed
Red
1990 Simi Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve USA, California, Napa Valley
93 points
Tasted blind: Clear garnet in color. Nose of berries and chocolate. Nice sweetness and elegance. The wine is quite classical and 'calming'. Now fully mature. Great Cab
Red
1987 Robert Mondavi Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve USA, California, Napa Valley
91 points
Tasted blind: Mature red. Nose of dark chocolate, coffee and berries. The nose would merit a 95pt rating. The wine felt a bit green, lacking depth and has quite some tartiness. It is a pleasant and elegant wine to drink but it just misses a bit of everything. Drink now
Red
1985 Ridge Monte Bello USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains
91 points
Tasted blind: Mature red. Nose of malt, leather and coffee. Acidity and tannins are present. This specific bottle is unbalanced and not as good as other encounters I had with this wine. I suggest a sub optimal (not badly) stored bottle..

Flight 2 (5 notes)

Red
1992 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon Special Selection USA, California, Napa Valley
94 points
Tasted blind: Deep red. Nose of black currant, leather and Roquefort cheese (strange but not in a distrubing way). Nice sweetness, elegant easy drinking Cali Cab which is now fully mature. Berry and cherry extravaganza that should be drunk now.

P.S: Tasted this wine 4 times in the past 12 months and it was always quite mature, so pop the cork as it is now in a hedonistic drinking phase-
Red
1996 Dominus Estate Napanook Vineyard USA, California, Napa Valley
91 points
Tasted blind: Clear intensive garnet in color. Nose of cherries but the alcohol shines through. Overall it is a good but not great Dominus. I am disturbed by the tartiness, the hard tannins and the lack of complexity. To drink now as I would expect waiting will not make the 1996 Dominus any better...
Red
1994 Opus One USA, California, Napa Valley
93 points
Tasted blind: Clear garnet in color. Nose of leather and tobacco. Tannins are still present but there is enough power anf fruit left to give this Opus One a good life. Coffee and berry notes are present. Drink with no hurry.
Red
1997 Opus One USA, California, Napa Valley
94 points
Tasted blind: Intensive red. Beautiful nose of berries, jelly and black current. Very elegant, balanced, complex and long. This is a great wine and now still on the young side. This is a great example of how a Napa cab should taste. I like it a lot. Drink now to 2030-
Red
1999 Pahlmeyer Proprietary Red USA, California, Napa Valley
93 points
Tasted blind: Deep red. Nose of leather, vanilla and Herbs de Provençe. Nice sweetness, smooth tannins and great balance. Tannins are still quite present. I do think this wine has the potential to improve with age.

Flight 3 (5 notes)

Red
1991 Dominus Estate Napanook Vineyard USA, California, Napa Valley
89 points
Tasted blind: Deep garnet in color. Nose of herbs and leather. Nice sweetness and good length. Quite a bit of tartiness and dry tannins. Red berries emerge. Overall the wine was unbalanced and I expected much more. Do not know in which strange phase this bottle was but I am sure there are MUCH better bottles around.
Red
1994 Dominus Estate Napanook Vineyard USA, California, Napa Valley
90 points
Tasted blind: Intensive dark color. Nose of leather, red berries and chocolate. This specific bottle felt unbalanced, dry tannins and too acidic. Despite the nice vanilla, berry and coffee notes quite a bit of green flavors. Again an off bottle like the 1991 in the glass next to it?
Red
1992 Grace Family Cabernet Sauvignon USA, California, Napa Valley, St. Helena
89 points
Tasted blind: Translucent in color. Nose of lovage, leather and again oxidative notes. In contrast to the 1994 Grace in the glass next to it, this was still drinkable. All was a bit simple and one dimensional but elegant. Again I expect a bottle stored under suboptimal conditions...
Red
1994 Grace Family Cabernet Sauvignon USA, California, Napa Valley, St. Helena
flawed
Tasted blind: Dark red showing some age at the rim. Nose of leather but after a few minutes fully oxidyzed. Past its peak. Either a very poorly stored bottle or the wine is already dead. I hope its the first...
Red
1996 Ridge Monte Bello USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains
92 points
Tasted blind: Deep red. Amazing nose of Coffee, chocolate and creme de cassis. The nose merits almost a perfect score. Nice sweetness, balance, elegant at the same time a Ridge that is on the light side. Not in a bad way but I am just missing a bit power. Still very youthful.

Flight 4 (5 notes)

Red
1997 Araujo Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Eisele Vineyard USA, California, Napa Valley
95 points
Tasted blind: Deep in color. Nose of tar, coffee and dark berries. The wine is long, powerful, quite rich and shows an immense potential. The wine is very elegant, nice balance and long. Flavors of Coffee and Caramel start to emerge. A superb wine. No hurry to drink
Red
1996 Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select USA, California, Napa Valley, Stags Leap District
93 points
Tasted blind: Deep red in color. Nose of Moccha, cassis and leather. Lots of chocolate and coffee notes in the finish. Overall a solid wine but for a Hillside a bit disappointing. Tannin structure is there for a long life. Drink now or wait for a few more years..
Red
1996 Harlan Estate USA, California, Napa Valley
94 points
Tasted blind: Deep garnet in color. Nose of leather, creme de cassis and sap. Overall a true beauty that combines power and elegance. The only thing that prevented me from giving a higher score is that the wine feels at the moment a bit dry, tannic and acidic. Not in a disturbing way but noticeable enough to downgrade. Drink now over the next decade
Red
1999 Robert Foley Claret USA, California, Napa Valley
93 points
Tasted blind: Ripe in color. Nose of black tea and dark berries, but also some 'fishy' notes that went away after around 15 min. The wine is long, powerful, quite rich and shows an immense potential. At the same time the tannins are a bit dry and the wine feels (at least for the moment) out of sync. If all comes together this will be a superb Foley Claret. No hurry to drink
Red
1997 Dalla Valle Maya USA, California, Napa Valley, Oakville
flawed
Tasted blind: Yet another poorly stored 'trophy' bottle purchased at Auction. This 'legent' was likely stored in the display case next to the fireplace. What a shame and it always stuns me how such expensive wines can be tortured...

Flight 5 (1 note)

Red
2011 Erbhof Unterganzner - Josephus Mayr Lagrein Alto Adige - Südtirol Lamarein Italy, Trentino-Alto Adige, Alto Adige, Alto Adige - Südtirol
93 points
Tasted blind: This bottle came in by surprise and by sheer frustration over the many flawed bottles in the tasting. Interesting wine, almost black in color. Flavors of coffee, cooked dark berries. Very sweet but elegant. Good length. The wine is produced the same way an Amarone is, but to be honest I like it better than 99% of the Amarones I have tasted so far. Drink now over the next decade

Flight 6 (1 note)

White - Sweet/Dessert
2002 Château Rieussec France, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Sauternes
91 points
Tasted blind. Nose of quenches and dried apricots. Nose sweetness but a bit fat for my taste. Flavors of acacia honey. Drink now over the next 10 years