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CABERNET SAUVIGNON of the 90s

January 10, 2000 • Jon's Bear Club

The Caboose Decade of the recently departed Millennial Train left fans of California Cabernet Sauvignon quite a few nice souvenirs. We tasted some that may be hard to find, but are definitely worth the search. Jon's excellent pairing of a beef tenderloin medallion under a seared slice of foie gras, grilled scallion and rich glace de viande, followed by a wedge of dark chocolate ganache, raspberry sauce aside, made our event more enjoyable and our erstwhile challenge more difficult. It took every bit of discipline and imagination we could muster to rank this delicious group. The point-spread was accordingly narrow and rankings very close, with many stars and no losers here (we are so spoiled!)...

Brand
Vintage, Varietal or Type
Appellation -$ price
(original release price)
Consensus Tasting Notes
#Rank
Buying Advice

Pride Mountain
1997 Cabernet Sauvignon
Napa Valley - $32.

Opaque purple; cassis, cola, blackberry, tobacco,cedar, pencil shavings, pine, smoke, tar, oak and cocoa; ripe, powerful, dense, extracted fruit with black raspberry and sweet oak flavors, slightly cedary, leathery, smoky; rich texture, mouth-filling, very full body; good grip and big, well-integrated tannins. Fairly priced.

#1
Very Highly
Recommended

Staglin
1996 Cabernet Sauvignon
Napa Valley - $45.

Deep reddish-purple; intense berry-cherry, cassis, cola, slight oak, eucalyptus, chocolate, anise; soft entry, huge cherry fruit, spicy, sweet oak, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove flavors; very rich, full body; slightly tart balance; long, smooth, tannic finish.

#2
Very Highly
Recommended

Caymus
1990 Cabernet Sauvignon
"Special Selection"
Napa Valley ±$175. ($55.)

Deep red with a garnet edge; heavy-toast oak, menthol, cedary, cigar box, forest floor, weedy, rose hips, faint caramel, smoke, leather, cherry and ethyl acetate; sweet entry, rich cassis, cola, cherry, pepper, dill and cedar flavors; slightly tart balance, faint volatility; medium-full body; long, with smooth, grapey-tart tannins. Ready to drink.

#3
Very Highly
Recommended

Steven Kent
1996 Cabernet Sauvignon
"Folkendt" Livermore Valley - $40.

Very dark purple; big, dense, classic cassis, cola, cigar box, briar, violet, cherry and berry nose with some vanilla oak, mint, cinnamon and allspice; round, rich, ripe cassis and black cherry flavors with hints of dill, eucalyptus, cedar, spice and celery; full body with some richness; Good balance; long, youthfully tannic finish.

#4
Very Highly
Recommended

Caymus
1994 Cabernet Sauvignon
Napa Valley ±$75. ($35)

Medium-dark ruby; complex bouquet overpowers varietal fruit with dill, cinnamon, clove, cola, oak, pencil lead, olive, spice, bacon, toast and charcoal with some faintly leafy and musty notes; big, slightly woody, boysenberry, bell-pepper and celery flavors; round, mouth-filling, very good balance; slightly astringent, very long finish; shone with food.

#5
Highly
Recommended

Woodward Canyon
1997 Cabernet Sauvignon
"Artist Series #6" Wash.- $30.

Deep purple-red; oak, toast, ash, very intense berry-cherry, blueberry fruit with hints of violets, lavender, caramel and chocolate; youthful, elegant, slightly hard-edged flavors of blackberry, blueberry, spice; good balance, seamless; light to medium body; young, tight tannins.

#6
Highly
Recommended

Staglin
1994 Cabernet Sauvignon
Napa Valley ±$55.00 ($38)

Very deep ruby; cassis, currants, berries, black licorice, eucalyptus, briar, spice with some vanilla oak, hint of brine or iodine; chocolate and herbal flavors of cinnamon, dill and bay leaf could use fruit; big, full body; well-balanced; somewhat drying, faintly bitter tannins, long finish.

#7
Highly
Recommended

J. Lohr
1994 Cabernet Sauvignon
"Seven Oaks"
Paso Robles ±$20. ($14)

Medium-dark, youthful purple; raspberry, cassis, cherry, faintly raisiny-pruney, weedy-minty with hints of smoke, vanilla, cedar, pepper; herbal, tight, fruity black cherry, cranberry flavors; light to medium body; good balance, slightly tart; medium tannins, fairly long, soft finish.

#8
Highly
Recommended

Chateau Montelena
1993 Cabernet Sauvignon
"Calistoga Cuvee"
Napa Valley ±$30. ($20)

Dark ruby with a slight haze; sweet oak, cedar and eucalyptus aroma over berries, somewhat closed-in, segmented; soft entry, tight, mature cassis, tobacco and cedar flavors are well-integrated; good balance; medium body, some richness; medium-long finish.

#9
Highly
Recommended

Von Strasser
1993 Cabernet Sauvignon
"Diamond Mountain"
Napa Valley ±$50. ($25)

Medium-dark ruby; somewhat shy nose of dried cherry, berry, cassis, faint dill, mint, smoke,brine, bark and funky must (Brettanomyces?); fruity, somewhat lightweight flavors; medium body; astringent, long finish with slightly bitter, somewhat dusty tannins.

#10
Highly
Recommended

This Panel included Regulars Deanna, Glenn, Diana, Roy,
Marlene, Jon, Jim, Chris, Ron, Greg, and James

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