Considering the fact that the "professionals" said the vintage was OK at best and at this point most of the wines were in decline (and some undrinkable), this one is a gem.
Its appearance is indicative of its age - a relatively dull garnet with very narrow rim. The nose is strong, with black fruit, plum, leather, earth and vanilla. On the palate, that black fruit comes across vibrantly, saying "I'm not so old" and is complimented by those same secondary and tertiary notes that were on the nose - leather, tobacco and vanilla. Fine grained tannins, medium(-) acidity, medium body round out the wine. Everything is in harmony. While I think there are still several years left in this wine, I don't see it getting any better. I am really digging this wine. Outstanding.
Decanted and let stand for an hour. Drank this as part of a flight of St. Helena Cabs; also a 2012 Conn Creek Cab and a 2003 Peacock Family Spring Mountain Cab. Paired with marinated and roasted flank steak, sliced thin with au jus and tomato marinade, rice, whole kernel corn, and broccoli. Still dark and inky. Nice legs. Beautiful bouquet. Cherries, licorice, vanilla. First taste brought lots of fruit. Tannins have settled out and this is a wonderfully smooth wine. Very well balanced. I like the lower ABR. Notes of plum, cassis, blackberry. Vanilla and tobacco at the back end. Finishing off with a lingering hint of spices, pepper, and leather. Cathy has certainly developed a talent for developing these bench wines. Although this one is drinking beautifully, it seems to have some more life left to shelve it. I don't know if it will do any good but I think I will keep my last bottle for another year or two.
My rating is for what it is now; not what it could be.
Based on our preferences I'd say to drink now, still a beautiful nose with beautiful blackberry and cherry fruit, oak spices however on the palette despite the nice acidity it was a little lacking in the mid palette. Still a great wine, just in the other side.
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