Super Tasting 3 of 5; Going, going, back, back, to Cali, Cali (Maciej and Steve host a 1994 California Horizontal)

George, Toronto, ON

Tasted June 7, 2014 by alittle with 470 views

Introduction

Going in to this, the group was made aware of the theme, but the specific bottles in the lineup were not revealed to the group. All wines served tinfoiled and revealed at the end of the evening.

Flight 1 (14 notes)

White - Sparkling
2003 Roederer Estate L'Ermitage Brut USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley
92 points
Popped and poured, followed approximately 45 minutes. Light golden colour in the glass, with a persistent, moderate bead. An expressive nose of baked apple, lemon zest, baked bread, and a touch of caramel. On the palate, showing surprisingly tart for a new world sparkler, with medium plus acids. Good density of flavour, with perhaps a touch of sweetness that shows through, hinting at its origin. The finish is moderately long, accentuated by tastes of green apple, yeast, lime zest, and caramelized sugar. Served blind, I don't think I would head to California on this, as it did give the impression of a well made Champagne. That being said, it would be interesting to re-taste this side by side a Champagne as another data point. Overall, very impressed with this.
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Red
1994 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon Special Selection USA, California, Napa Valley
93 points
Popped and poured, served blind, followed approximately one hour. Garnet in the glass, with a mild brick. On the nose, very expressive with a ripe character; red berries, cedar, celery seed, menthol, earth, a touch of spice, undergrowth and with time this turns a bit more savoury with almost a balsamic glaze note. On the palate, ripeness is also apparent, with red currant, cedar, earth, celery framing the slightly bitter finish. Structurally, the tannin is mostly integrated at this point, with medium acidity; well balanced and smoothed out. On reveal, pretty shocked to see that this was a Caymus, although they were a bit dialed back 20 years ago.
Red
1994 Joseph Phelps Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley USA, California, Napa Valley
flawed
Popped and poured, served blind. Garnet in the glass with a moderate brick. On the nose, this is a touch stewed, leaning quite oxidative, with notes of raisin, bruised apple, baked plum, brown sugar and a touch of heat noted. On the palate, a sense of lushness, but this is quite astringent, carrying quite a bit of heat through the finish. No pleasant; either flawed, or drink 10 years ago.
Red
1994 Robert Mondavi Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve USA, California, Napa Valley
flawed
Popped and poured, light ruby red in colour with a heavy brick. On the nose, bruised apple, raspberry, bug spray, pyrazine and nail polish remover. On the palate, rather unpleasant with oxidative notes carrying through. This is most definitely off. On reveal, this was a bit of a disappointment, as I expected this to be one of the better wines of the evening.
Red
1994 Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Georges de Latour Private Reserve USA, California, Napa Valley
flawed
Served blind. Popped and poured, followed approximately one hour. Garnet in the glass, with a mild brick. On the nose, plum, blackcurrant, a touch of bruised apple, spice, graphite and pyrazine. On the palate, ripe black fruit, baked plum, celery, earth and spice. I found this to be a touch astringent, although the tannin was mostly integrated at this point. Low-medium acidity and bit of heat sensed on the back end of the finish. On reveal, this was certainly a disappointment. I'm guessing this has seen some suboptimal storage, due to the slight oxidation on the nose and palate.
Red
1994 Beringer Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve USA, California, Napa Valley
94 points
Served blind. Popped and poured, followed approximately 1.5 hours. Garnet in the glass, with a light bricking noted. As soon as I smelled the nose, I knew we were back in business. Ripe blackcurrant, black cherry, eucalyptus, menthol, spice, dried tea leaves and earth. On the palate, this is a serious wine; really well balanced, quite polished, with very pure fruit that does walk the line of ripeness, but does it quite well. Moderate acidity, and fine grained tannin that grips ever so slightly on the moderate length finish, accentuated with tastes of dark fruit, spice, pyrazine, mint and earth. Was not particularly surprised on reveal as I've enjoyed pretty much every bottle of Beringer Private Reserve I've ever had.
Red
1994 Joseph Phelps Insignia USA, California, Napa Valley
96 points
Served blind. Popped and poured, followed approximately 2 hours. Deep garnet in the glass, with a mild brick. On first pass, the nose seemed quite old world leaning compared to the previous examples tonight; red currant, black cherry, cedar, spent coffee grinds, leather, spice, bell pepper, iodine, and earth. On the palate, again getting the same impression, well polished with nice bright fruit, fairly integrated tannin and the highest acidity seen at this point in the night. The finish is quite long, accentuated with currant, cedar, pyrazine, earth and iodine notes. Everyone had this pegged early as the Dominus, so it was surprising to see this end up being the Insignia.
Red
1994 Dunn Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain USA, California, Napa Valley, Howell Mountain
93 points
Served blind. Popped and poured. Garnet in colour, with not much in the way of bricking. This started out really dirty on the nose, with tons of brettanomyces, but settled down a bit with time to reveal notes of red and black currant, cedar, earth, leather, pyrazine by way of green pepper, green tobacco, and still rather obvious horse stable type notes. Didn't hold this long enough to find it go candied, so I can't comment on that. For the period I followed, this was right up my alley in terms of aromatic profile. On the palate, this one didn't really blow me away. Medium plus acidity, with grippy tannin on the moderate length finish, accentuated by notes of black currant, earth, pyrazine and leather. Overall, very enjoyable and was not surprised to see this was the Dunn on reveal.
Red
1994 Ridge Monte Bello USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains
88 points
Served blind. Popped and poured. Garnet in colour with a slight brick. On the nose, one of the more riper examples of the evening and also quite polished; jammy dark fruits, cedar, a touch of graphite, pyrazine, a touch of mint and vanilla. On the palate, quite ripe with a real perceptible sweetness, showing dark fruits, spice, earth and a touch of vanilla on the back end. Rather simple. Moderate acidity, mostly integrated tannin and a moderate finish. Overall, a reasonable wine, but fell way short of expectations. Was very surprised on reveal as I would have thought this would have showed much better.
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Red
1994 Chappellet Cabernet Sauvignon Signature USA, California, Napa Valley
89 points
Served blind. Popped and poured. Garnet in the glass, with a light brick. On the nose, this is very clean, with dark fruits, mint, spice, but not really showing much in the way of complexity. On the palate, quite clean, with nice concentration, with sweet dark fruit, spice, earth, mint and pyrazine notes. Well crafted, relatively polished, but showing a bit simplistic. Reveal was not all that surprising. Reasonable wine, but not of much interest on this nice.
Red
1994 Dominus Estate Napanook Vineyard USA, California, Napa Valley
95 points
Served blind. Popped and poured. Garnet in colour, with a light brick. An expressive nose of red currant, graphite, earth, undergrowth, moss, cedar, spent coffee grinds, cured meat, dried tobacco, celery leaf and a touch of horse stable. On the palate, showing tremendous balance; medium acidity, fine grained tannin, with a long finish rounded out with notes of cassis, dried tobacco, blood, earth and pyrazine. This was quite impressive and one of the finest wines of the evening. On reveal, no surprise here. Relatively consistent with previous showings.
Red
1994 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Cask 23 USA, California, Napa Valley, Stags Leap District
80 points
Served blind. Popped and poured. Deep garnet in colour. On the nose, dark fruits; smells purple; bubble gum, cough syrup, vanilla. Very simplistic, and overripe. On the palate, things follow suit, with hyper ripe fruits and tastes acidified, bringing it in to some semblance of balance. Easily the worst sound wine of the tasting. On reveal, expected a bit better out of this one.
Red
1994 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon USA, California, Napa Valley
84 points
Served blind. Popped and poured. Deep garnet in the glass. On the nose, quite simplistic again. Dark fruits, menthol, brown sugar, raisin, vanilla, wood, and a touch of heat. On the palate, ripe prune, vanilla, wood, fruit cake and alcohol lingering on the back end. Not particularly enjoyable, and surprising to compare with the Special Selection on reveal.
Red
1994 David Arthur Meritaggio USA, California, Napa Valley
92 points
Served blind. Popped and poured. Garnet in the glass, with a faint brick. A beautiful nose of black currant, celery seed, cedar, dried tobacco, florals, earth and eucalyptus. On the palate, lovely purity of fruit, with notes of black currant, cigar, bell pepper and cedar. Medium acidity, and fine grained tannin gripping on the medium plus finish. Really nice showing. Surprised on reveal, as I had never had this producer, nor heard of them. Top notch, and probably the biggest (positive) surprise of the evening. Well done.

Closing

Overall, there were some wonderful highs and some painful lows on this night. Many wines I would have expected to show better, but we also had some pleasant surprises. The food and service by George was exceptional, and the company as usual was top notch.

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