From a magnum that was simply stored in a closet of an air conditioned house. This bottle also made a couple trips across the country and up and down the east coast so there was low expectations. Popped and poured into a decanter. Initial nose of leather, tobacco with just a hint of fruit. Very soft, with no tannins. At this point we were happy the wine was still alive. With some time in the decanter, the wine blossomed. The tobacco and leather subsided a bit and some dark fruit and licorice emerged. This bottle was very much alive and could go many more years. Enjoyable and it was fun to drink and watch it change over time.
From Magnum to commemorate the passing of Donn Chappellet. Evolved color, but very present aromas. Sweet black fruit aromas, some plum and loads of sous bois. Remarkably fresh vintage, marked by a wonderfully long drawn out finish. Tony Soter should have been winemaker at this point. Many years of good drinking ahead, drink to 2026.
2 bottles consumed recently. Acquired from very good Washington DC retailer, Wide World of Wines, who also buy private cellars and have refrigerated storage with a nice back vintage collection in the basement. These 2 bottles had top shoulder fills but the labels were practically deteriorated off. A 78 was barely visible on one and the capsules were clearly Chappellet. The store owner practically gave them to me at $15 a piece, a kind gift.
The wines, the second bottle clearly superior, had old but in tact corks, fully stamped. Needed the ahso to get them out in 1 piece. Showing some lush Cali fruit, both dark and red. First bottle had more of the mushroom and forest floor but still silky and delicious.
Second bottle more delineated, some of the graphite and cigar box, but warm and inviting in a typical Cali way. Deep complete color with a thin rim of red brick. Improved with air, showed a little muscle and briefly some high toned orange elements old wine can have like saffron and dried orange peel. But still easy going, effortless Cali cab at the same time. No tannin remained and the bottles went well with Sunday morning shrimp and grits, fried chicken and veggies. Would have been delicious enough on their own. Second, best bottle showed a little heat if you were looking for it. Very enjoyable, but not profound from such a great vintage, but I was so pleased to make the unexpected find.
The second bottle I had last night I could still taste and smell this morning. So it made an imprint. Some people with old Cali wine don't know what they have. Not many people out there make em like that anymore.
What aged wine is all about. Currant, black berry and spice have mellowed into a wonderful stew that is extradonairy. A little rough at the open, but within a half hour the edge had worn off and the deep mellow flavors came out. 1978 was the year I had started my business and shared the bottle with colleaques so it was special and the wine lived up to the occasion.
1978 California Cabernet horizontal (Il Corso.): This was a bit of a disappointment given how well the '73, '77 and '79 have shown over the past couple of years. Those wines all showed more fruit and vitality than this bottle did. This is rather simple with scant red fruit left and is dominated more by fresh and dried herbs, earth and cedar at this point. The acidity and drying wood tannins stick out on the finish. B/B-.
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(Chappellet Cabernet Sauvignon) Group's #7 (my #5) – 73 pts; 0, 0, 2, 1 – Medium red color with pale meniscus; narrow sweet beef jus nose that changes after 30 minutes or so to a stewed plum and sage nose; sweet sage, cedar and cassis palate, that really drops off after 30 minutes in the glass; medium-plus finish