If this had been served blind, it would have been pretty easy to conclude it was a California Cabernet/Bordeaux blend given the strong oak and vanilla on the nose. The nose is very toasty as well, with notes of charred newspaper and graphite. Powerful, full bodied, spicy. Vanilla and mocha undertones. Dynamic. Spicy finish. I actually preferred the first wine (1998 Whitehall Lane Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve), but this is undoubtedly good and was the better of the two for other people.
A rich, velvety core of black fruit, with graphite, earth, and cocoa. The depth of the nose is truly impressive. The balance is impeccable between the fruit, the tannins, and the acidity - this is heft without heaviness. It does bear some resemblance to a left-bank Bordeaux, although it is very approachable now after only 8 years. I'm sure it'll improve even more, but why wait?
Elegance in a glass. What a wine to start the night with but tough to compare to the pure Cabernet bruisers that we drank all night. A bit muted to open. Not expressive as expected. Very light and precise in the mouth. A thousand points of light that is still developing. More of a classic profile that has been made to be consumed with food.
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