San Francisco; 4/15/2014-4/18/2014 (San Francisco Area): From a time before Araujo too over the vineyard. Need decanting both for sediment, brutal soot clear some funky smell on the nose.earthy, mushroomy notes on the nose mix with a good dose of dark fruits, light leather. Good density of fruit on the palate, from start to end, very vibrant wine and although secondary has the structure to go another 20 years. A touch of sweet core fruit on the mid plate reminds you this is napa and not pauillac. Very elegant and pure. Mr Phelps must be kicking himself for letting this vineyard go away.. 94
Good looking bottle, fill into neck, spinning capsule, cork stained only 1/5 of the way up... Sports a lovely yet restrained bouquet with quintessential cabernet aromas of tobacco, green peppers, compost, loam, and maybe an ever-so-slightly oxidative note. With air, some notes of blueberry, cinnamon and caramel emerge too, reminding that this is a Napa. The palate is fully resolved, a tad lean but with good backend length, tangy and Bordeaux in texture and style. Still pleasurable, but this bottle seems to be starting to thin out, with some tart-shrill midpalate notes. Somewhat a shadow (or maybe an echo) of the flamboyant and epic 1987 Phelps Eisele. Last glass was the best. Still very good, but below expectations.
Dark garnet, with much bricking. Aromas are complex, giving mints, cherry, leather, pencil box and the pungency of a wet basement. On entry, medium tannin and medium acidity. It's more energetic than anticipated for such an old, hot vintage wine from Calistoga. Develops on the palate quickly, with a bit of a bother from an overlay of mushroom-y and wet paper flavor that suppresses - and contends with - the appeal from very ripe fruit (plum, prune, cherry) and mint. Medium finish. Bottle #3 of three.
The Semicentennial Birthday "Season"; 9/16/2012-9/18/2012 (San Francisco and the Napa Valley): The saying that (with respect to "elderly" bottles) there are no good wines, just good bottles, is one that holds true throughout my experience. This 26-year-old bottle, provided by a close friend and oenophile, is somewhere in between on the spectrum of good and bad. Just opening this bottle provided a challenge, as the cork was very crumbly. After decanting, this bottle showed a deep garnet/amber specimen, with tired (but not dead) aromas of wood, cigar box and earth, with a whiff of black fruit to vault the wine above "flawed" status. The palate shows the same tired flavors which linger to a long, albeit earth/wood finish. I would definitely not dump this wine out of my glass, but I suspect that there are better bottles of this vintage. Drink up!
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