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Nov 12, 2006 10:12 PM


We have been on hiatus from wine-drinking for about a decade and are now able to enjoy it again. Found two bottles in the back of the closet. Hoping someone can tell us what to expect on opening them, and whether they might be worth saving for a special occasion or special menu. They are a Joseph Phelps Cab 1981 and a Stone Pine Cab 1994. Many thanks.

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  1. Wine spectator rated the Joseph Phelps Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 1981 as 86 points. Same year Cab, Eisele Vineyard, 78 points. No tasting notes. It's most probably dead by now.

    Sorry, no info on 1994 Stone Pine.

    1. If the temperature in the closet was good for cellaring, they might be good. Some friends got a couple of cases of random 20- to 25-year-old California wines not intended for aging that a wine collector friend cleaned out of his cellar, and some were really good.

      1. Not too many years ago, I had the opportunity to do a J Phelps tasting of 30 of their "best" Cabs/blends. Some went back to the late 70's and all were excellent. Now, this was not a vertical, in that the winery picked the wines from their library, so they chose ones with likely age potential. All had also been stored at the winery, so cellaring was not a question.

        My suggestion would be to have a decanter, candle and the drinkers/diners, and a backup wine handy, decant off any sediment, and hope to enjoy this wine. Phelps is, and has always been, IMHO, a great CalCab producer.

        I am not familiar with the Stone Pine, but '94 was a great year for CalCabs, and it could possibly within its lifespan. In '94, if one could not make a very good Cab in either Napa, or Sonoma, they needed to find another profession.

        Good luck with these, and hopefully, you will enjoy both.


        1. The closet was in our basement which is always cool, so that was in our favor. We opened the Stone Pine and enjoyed it, after it breathed a bit. Other than that, I'm not knowledgeable enough to comment on it's quality or characteristics. Thanks to all for the information. I'll post again when we open the Phelps.