1994 California Cabernet Blind Tasting

Michelangelo Hotel, New York

Tasted December 16, 2019 by Lord of the Bottles with 128 views

Introduction

I was fortunate to attend an amazing tasting of 17 wines from the 1994 California vintage on a recent business trip to New York. The wines were all decanted about 1 hour before the tasting. A few duds but some amazing wines which confirms the longevity of well-kept bottles at the high end of California's wine production 25 years on.

Flight 1 (17 notes)

Red
1994 Viader Proprietary Red USA, California, Napa Valley
flawed
Flawed.
Red
1994 Forman Cabernet Sauvignon USA, California, Napa Valley
92 points
Floral almond nose. Lively palate of dark and red fruit. 20 second finish. Still youthful.
Red
1994 Dalla Valle Maya USA, California, Napa Valley, Oakville
91 points
Muted dusty nose. Fruit and milk chocolate. Minty short to medium finish (10-15 seconds). Seemed extracted.
Red
1994 Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon USA, California, Napa Valley
Medicinal nose. Light fruit with woody finish. Drying out. Score withheld.
Red
1994 Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon The Montelena Estate USA, California, Napa Valley
93 points
Balanced red fruit. Some Morelo on the 25 second finish, lively acidity, nice and traditional style.
Red
1994 Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select USA, California, Napa Valley, Stags Leap District
93 points
Fruit forward nose. High acidity. Youthful. Really enjoyed this but not sure worth the price tag. 93+
Red
1994 Opus One USA, California, Napa Valley
94 points
Musty nose. Some fruit with a long wood finish. Still youthful with enough fruit and some tertiary notes. Like an aged Bordeaux. Contender for WOTN.
Red
1994 Bryant Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon USA, California, Napa Valley
95 points
Ginger fungi nose. Very interesting and expressive and unique (like DRC or stinky Pomerols or Harlan).Dark and blue fruit. High acidity. Youthful with a long finish. My and another taster's WOTN but hugely controversial and divided the room. 94-95
Red
1994 Robert Mondavi Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve USA, California, Napa Valley
94 points
Dusty nose. Licorice, blackberry, mushroom finish. Lovely. 94
Red
1994 Dominus Estate Napanook Vineyard USA, California, Napa Valley
88 points
Iodine nose. Tightly wound. Some fruit. Not my style at all but some others liked it.
Red
1994 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Cask 23 USA, California, Napa Valley, Stags Leap District
Fungi medicinal nose. Some red fruit and bell pepper. Overly tannic and a very bitter finish. Likely bottle variation. Score withheld.
Red
1994 Harlan Estate USA, California, Napa Valley
Fungi nose which worked but very oxidative palate and overly green taste. Seems bottle variation. Score withheld.
Red
1994 Beringer Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Chabot Vineyard USA, California, Napa Valley, St. Helena
flawed
Flawed.
Red
1994 Diamond Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Red Rock Terrace USA, California, Napa Valley, Diamond Mountain
91 points
Dark Morelo cherry. Quite primary still.
Red
1994 Ridge Monte Bello USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains
94 points
Light fruit nose. Dark fruit palate. Youthful and tannic but nicely balanced. WOTN for some and a contender for me.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
1994 Joseph Phelps Insignia USA, California, Napa Valley
95 points
Morelo cherry to dark cherry. Lively palate which dances around your tongue. Some found it too modern but runner-up WOTN for me after the Bryant Family.
Red
1994 Dunn Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain USA, California, Napa Valley, Howell Mountain
Green notes and high acidity. Last wine in a long evening and hard for me to judge.

Closing

My WOTN was the Bryant Family, with the Joseph Phelps Insignia just a splinter behind. Strong showings from Mondavi, Ridge, and Montelena. Share HSS also came out well. The remainder were either to other's tastes. Some corked bottles. All in all a wonderful time.

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