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Stag's Leap Artermis Cabarnet Sauvignon

I'm not much of a wine drinker myself, but I'm looking for a nicer wine for a dinner party or when I need to bring a bottle of wine to somebody's home.

Stag's Leap happens to be one of the few wines I've heard about due to its historic win against French wines back in the 1970s. But, how well is it, especially their Artermis label, regarded these days?

At that price point, is the Artemis Cabernet Sauvignon a fair price for the quality? Or, do you think its price gets inflated because of the name recognition that their historic win brought them?

Any other better options at that price?

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  1. I hope this doesn't come off as too douchey, but SLA is my number one most hated wine made in CA these days (and that's saying something, as I dislike much of what CA offers). Even in a good vintage it tends to be thin and murky, out of balance with no chance at aging. It's definitely purchased by noobs for the name recognition, kind of like Caymus and Silver Oak. These are all wines living on past glories, and charging way too much for the "privilege" of drinking their subpar juice.

    For similar price, I'd opt for Robert Craig, Cade, Ramey, Kathryn Hall, Ladera Howell Mtn. Heck, I vastly prefer Provenance CS and it's only 2/3 the price.

    1. <Any other better options at that price?>

      Across the road from Stag's Leap lies Chimney Rock, who, imho makes much better wines. Similar price point. Tastes much MUCH better. ;)

      1 Reply
      1. re: ChefJune

        I've had Chimney Rock and it was excellent. I highly recommend it!

      2. QUESTION: The people to whom you are bringing this bottle to -- are they "into" wine? or are you just bringing them a bottle as a gracious guest when coming to dinner?

        In other words, is the bottle for someone who will be more impressed by the label ON the bottle, or by what is INSIDE the bottle?

        It makes a difference: someone who doesn't know a great deal about Champagne, for instance, will be more impressed by a bottle of Dom Pérignon or Cristal than they would by a bottle of, say, Egly-Ouriet or Jacques Selosse -- but which would I rather drink??? The latter . . . .

        3 Replies
          1. re: invinotheresverde

            Love Egly-Ouriet as a more reasonable and drinkable option. I make it a point to look for it on a restaurant's list.

            However, I must say that the 2000 Cristal really opened my eyes to what champagne could be. Especially, tasting it right after the more highly rated 2002.

            1. re: Porthos

              Individual tastes are just that: individual. The last Cristal that I "loved" was the 1979 (or maybe it was the 1982?). I don't remember exactly, but when they moved to increase their production, it kinds of fell out of favor with me . . . besides there are so many grower Champagnes that are out there -- most of them superior in quality and character to the grands marques (IMHO) . . . .

              Not to say Cristal (or Dom, for that matter) are *bad* -- far from it! They remain high quality examples of the Champagne art, the tête de cuvée of the House. In a sense, they are (to bring this back to Cabernet Sauvignon) like Beringer's "Private Reserve," Beaulieu's "Georges de Latour," or even Joseph Phelps' "Insignia" -- consistently fine wines made at scale, a ***very*** impressive feat!


        1. I think the Stags Leap Artemis would be a nice wine to take if you don't know the host and other guests wine preferences. At least it is a "historical" label wine that I can't imagine anyone not recognizing the name and it is a great conversation starter. So, even if it is not the absolute best wine of the night, it will likely be welcomed. I like the Artemis and think it is a certainly a better value than the cask 23 ($$$).

          It is difficult to find a wine that everyone at a dinner party will feel the same way about...ESPECIALLY if you are not a big wine drinker yourself. Sticking with a nice upscale recognizable label is a good plan, you will not be embarrassed! :) Clos du Val is also a classic very tasty wine and was right along side of Stags at the Judgement of Paris. It will be a better value as well (Ridge and Heitz will be too pricey) and I prefer the taste of Clos du Val....and you can still tell the great story with Clos du Val :)

          40 Replies
          1. re: sedimental

            What's the great story about Clos du Val?

            I googled it up on Wikipedia, and I'm afraid I didn't catch the story behind it on first glance.

            1. re: hobbess

              Clos du Val was ALSO at the 1976 Paris tasting . . .

              Check out http://www.closduval.com/thejourney.php -- and look at 1976 and 2006 . . . .

              1. re: zin1953

                But, it didn't seem like Clos du Val were the winners in the original 1976 testing or the 2006 test. I'm too lazy to calculate the scores to see where Clos du Val originally ranked in 76, but the wikipedia page's passage about statiscal analysis of the 76 testing would have had Clos du Val finishing last in 76.

                Clos du Val won one of the two rematches in 1986 so does this mean that its a wine that needs to be aged to be appreciated but not too long? Its confusing to me that Stag's Leap won it in 76, won it again in 78, fell to the middle of the pack in 86, but then finished in second in 2006.

                As unpopular Stag's Leap may be with chowhounds these days, it really does seem that it did, or that particular vintage, once produce great wines.

                1. re: hobbess

                  Perhaps, but also keep in mind that the Artemis is a blend of vineyards while the wine that won (SLV) is from, obviously, SLV. That makes for two stylistically different wines. That's also besides the fact that much of CA's wines made today have little resemblance to their earlier-made counterparts, and are more drink-now/easily approachable in style. I find that perfectly true of the Artemis. Artemis is also their entry level product (not that that's necessarily a bad thing).

                  1. re: invinotheresverde

                    I'd have to double-check, but IIRC, the 1973 SLWC Cabernet was *not* from SLV; it was made from purchased grapes. There was no "Stags Leap" appellation when the wine was made, let alone an estate bottling of 1973 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap Vineyard*.


                    * The reason that the "SLV" designated Cabernet is called simply "SLV," rather than spelled out (as it was in the first couple of vintages) is that Stag-S-APOSTROPHE Leap Vineyard is a different winery than Stag-APOSTROPHE-S Leap Wine Cellars, and part of the lawsuit that settled (supposedly) the differences between Warren and Carl was that Warren's estate vineyard couldn't be labeled "Stags Leap Vineyard" . . . hence, "SLV." But I'm like 90 percent sure the 1973 Cab was NOT off the estate vineyard -- at least not completely.

                    1. re: zin1953

                      " The 1973 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars S.L.V. Cabernet Sauvignon - the first vintage produced with grapes from vines a mere three years old - was judged the best."

                      1. re: invinotheresverde

                        I feel like they're implying it came from their own, albeit young, vines. I could be wrong.

                        1. re: invinotheresverde

                          It may very well have been. The wine was made *before* there was any such thing as a "Stags Leap District" AVA, or even designation. It was simply labeled "Napa Valley," and I don't recall anything on the label about it being "Estate Bottled" or "Estate Grown."

                  2. re: hobbess

                    Why is this confusing?

                    Go ahead. Tell me. I'll wait . . . .


                    Wine tasting is subjective. YOU may taste the 2012 vintage Chateau Cache Phloe in a blind tasting today and rank it first out of the eight wines it's matched with in its flight, but next week you might rank it 6th, 7th, or even last out of the very same eight wines. And my response would be, "So . . . . ?" (Insert shrug of shoulders here.)

                    To begin with, Clos du Val has been, and remains -- for lack of a better term -- a very "French-styled" California Cabernet. That means that not only does it age well, but it actually *needs* the bottle age. One needs to keep in mind several things about the (in)famous 1976 Paris tasting: it's been re-enacted multiple times by private individuals as well as "wine professionals" over the years; it's (in a sense) re-enacted anytime and every time anyone opens a bottle of this and a bottle of that side-by-side; and, most importantly, Stephen Spurrier rigged the tasting.

                    Wines change as the age. Period. Some wines get better. Others do not. But never forget that the appreciation of wine -- ANY wine -- is SUBjective. One can evaluate a wine technically, and there is a certain objectivity there: is the wine varietally correct? is it flawed in some way, due to (e.g.) excessive volatile acidity, the presence of mercaptan compounds, ethyl acetate, etc., etc.? Then there are the "to varying degrees"-type of flaws. Some tasters may fine that the wine being evaluated is over-oaked, but other tasters may not find the level of oak objectionable at all -- that's not a flaw, that's individual taste and opinion (the presence of mercaptans in not). And finally there is the aroma and flavor -- all of which is subjective!

                    Finally, it isn't that Stag's Leap Wine Cellars is unpopular with Chowhounds because of what is in the bottle. No one is saying that SLWC is making $#!+ for wine these days. But keep in mind that the pricing structure is someone astronomical -- especially if you consider that the release price for BOTH the 1972 Clos du Val and SLWC Cabernets were $6.00 . . . now, admittedly, it is a subjective opinion that one can find other wines as good or better than SLWC for less money, but I'd say that is a relatively widespread subjective opinion . . . .


                    1. re: zin1953

                      and, most importantly, Stephen Spurrier rigged the tasting.


                      Please elaborate!

                      1. re: Porthos

                        Steven Spurrier (I misspelled his name in my earlier post) was the then-owner of the wine store Cave Madeline and the Academie du Vin. He was one of the few Europeans who really knew California wines -- especially among those who were living in France.


                        Historical sidenote: in the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, and until the "Judgement of Paris" in 1976, very few Europeans knew -- or cared -- about California wines. Basically, it boiled down to the French "knowing" their wines were better than the American wines; the Italians "knowing" that there wines were better than the American wines (and the French!); the Germans knowing their wines were better than the American wines (and the Italians!); the Spanish, the Portuguese -- in other words, every wine-producing nation in Western Europe knew their country's wines were superior to the Americans and to those of any other nation . . . the latter based more upon national pride, whereas the former was closer to fact.

                        The exception to this were a handful of British wine writers, and the only exception was for Zinfandel. The reasons for this were two-fold: a) since the Brits make virtually no wine themselves, there is no "national pride" at stake the way there is with continental Europe. Secondly, Zinfandel was exclusively Californian! After all, here was a grape that none of the Europeans were growing (or more accurately, no one *knew* they were growing), and so it was welcomed into the British wine scene with a relatively open palate . . . as opposed to "Oh, well, this isn't like the French/Italian/German version, is it?" and then marking it down by comparison. There was nothing to compare a California Zinfandel to, and several influential British wine writers LOVED the stuff! Indeed, there was a Zinfandel Club formed in London in the mid-to-late 1960s.


                        Steven Spurrier took California's contribution to the world of wine seriously, and he understood -- as did Michael Broadbent, Harry Waugh, Alexis Lichine and a handful of others -- that there was indeed "greatness" here, and that the California wine "scene" was about to explode!

                        In terms of Chardonnay, 1972, 1973 and 1974 were not the best of vintages in the Côte d'Or, but there were the "current" vintages. The overall vintage quality was better in California. All of the California selections tend to "lean in the French direction," as opposed to tons of tropical fruit, loads of oak, in-your-face . . .

                        In terms of Cabernet Sauvignon:

                        a) All the Bordeaux were from 1970 -- the Léoville was 1971 -- and all were starting to shut down in 1976, meaning they weren't showing as well as they did 12-24 months earlier, and would in another 3-4 years.

                        b) To generalize, California wines often show better in their youth -- notice that the Stag's Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet was the youngest, and was NOT shutting down like the Bordeaux. Notice the oldest wine (the 1969 Freemark Abbey) ranked last in the original tasting.

                        c) Also, remember that Clos du Val's winemaker, Bernard Portet, is French, learned winemaking from his father -- the former cellarmaster at Château Lafite Rothschild, and makes wines to age.

                        d) On the (modified) UC Davis 20-point system, statistical analysis has shown that there is a "built-in error factor" of +/- 1.5 points. That means that there is no significant different whatsoever between a wine that ranks (e.g.) 14.0 and 15.5, or between a wine that ranks 12.5 and a wine that ranks 14.0, but there *is* a definite difference between a wine scoring 12.5 and a wine scoring 15.5. (Follow me?) Now, look at the results WITH the points:

                        1. 14.14 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars 1973
                        2. 14.09 Château Mouton-Rothschild 1970
                        3. 13.64 Château Montrose 1970
                        4. 13.23 Château Haut-Brion 1970

                        5. 12.14 Ridge Vineyards Monte Bello 1971
                        6. 11.18 Château Leoville Las Cases 1971

                        7. 10.36 Heitz Wine Cellars Martha's Vineyard 1970
                        8. 10.14 Clos Du Val Winery 1972
                        9. 9.95 Mayacamas Vineyards 1971
                        10. 9.45 Freemark Abbey Winery 1969

                        So wines 1-4 were are statistically tied . . . and three of the four were Bordeaux! Wines 5 & 6 are statistically tied. Wines 7-10 are statistically tied, and all four are Californian . . . .

                        Spurrier knew all of this, and he has said -- both to me in private after the tasting, and in print -- that he had rigged it for the California wines to show well. Did he know for sure that a California wine would "win"? No, not necessarily. But he certainly knew that France wasn't going to place 1-5 and California 6-10. As long as at least one (and hopefully two) California wines in the top 5, Spurrier knew it would draw the right kind of attention to California wine. Think about it: 2 California Cabs placed in the "Top Five" with First Growth Bordeaux??? How could California lose???

                        (Like I said, the only way was to have ALL the California wines come in last.)


                        1. re: zin1953

                          Thank you for the fun and informative read.

                          With regards to points a) and b), do you have an explaination for the results and the actual points for the 10 year "rematch"?

                          1. re: Porthos

                            What's to explain? I'm not following you . . .

                            1. re: zin1953

                              That if the french wines scored lower the first time around due to them being in a closed phase or not showing as well early on, that they should have performed better 10 years later. But depending on which "rematch" we're talking about (French Culinary Institute vs Wine Spectator), the American wines performed as well if not better 10 years later.

                              I was hoping you had the actual scores for the rematch(es) also to see if the difference between wines #1-5 was also negligible or if the difference between #1-5 was more substantial 10 years later.

                              1. re: Porthos

                                They didn't score "lower" the first time round . . . where do you get that? The top four wines were TIED with each other.

                                1. re: zin1953

                                  Sorry. Old habits die hard.

                                  So was the point spread the second time around the same and also negligible?

                                  1. re: Porthos

                                    The breaks in between groupings may have been different, but essentially -- yes, also negligible.

                                2. re: Porthos

                                  I have hosted a Judgement of Paris party almost every year for decades. It is really fun and very interesting and I have had people fly in from all over -just to play. Too bad we haven't blogged about it, but it started waaaay before blogs :)

                                  Anyway, we have a variety of bottles (usually 4, 6, 10) of either the original wines or lately -1980's wines. Wines consistently at the top are (CA) Heitz, Ridge, Clos du Val. The top (FR) Haut-Brion, Mouton, Leoville LC. Of those top three in each group, The French pull out the top slot more often than the CA. When the CA wins, it is usually a Heitz. When the FR wins, it is usually a Haut-Brion. The exceptions are in the stellar vintages for France- then a Mouton or Latour is a clear winner.

                                  My party goers also think that FR wines are more mineraly and Brett-y when aged as compared to the more leathery and plummy notes of most CA aged bottles (in "general") and that the CA aged bottles tend to still have more fruit and less complexity than the FR - allowing for you to pick them out often -based on style.

                                  Interesting observations have been: Mayacamas is often aged out, Stags is rarely ever picked as a top three and Chateau Montrose is a total taste "dud" compared to the others. We also taste Margaux, Montelena and Mount Eden. Mount Eden can often best a Margaux depending on the vintage and Leoville tastes more like a CA than the other FR wines. Sometimes we put in a Palmer or a Phelps and they are popular but not "contenders" and we note that they taste lighter".
                                  Not scientific but really fun and educational.

                                  1. re: sedimental

                                    Without having tasted the specific wines -- or rather, without having tasted the specific BOTTLES of wine (i.e.: every bottle is slightly different) -- your comments seem to be in sync with my expectations. When comparing Napa Cabernets to Bordeaux, one of the most common *specific* allusions is to the wines of Graves/Pessac-Léognan -- the home of Château Haut-Brion. (OTOH, I always find myself reminded of Château Latour when tasting an aged bottle of Ridge Monte Bello.)

                            2. re: zin1953

                              If wines 1-4 were statiscally tied, then why does the wikipedia page about the 1976 wine tasting event says that the statistical analysis of the event showed that only the two highest scoring wines, the Stag's Leap and the Montrose, were statistically valid while the other seven wines could not be differentiated statistically?

                              In the link to the original statistical analysis, their conclusion was "despite the disagreement among the judges there is also considerable evidence of concordance. Using a common statistical scheme, our software package established that there is enough concordance among the tasters that it makes sense to believe that the resulting ranking is not just a product of random chance. A loose grouping of the wines by this statistical criteria suggests that the wines may be grouped into three categories. At the top are the 1973 Stag's Leap cabernet and the 1970 Montrose."


                              1. re: hobbess

                                So, you DO realize we are speaking about wine here, right? Not the analysis of the performance of various sports cars in the quarter-mile?

                                Wine IS subjective. Period! Once you have gotten beyond the absence or presence of technical flaws in a wine, why do you rate Chateau Cache Phloe's 2014 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon higher than Domaine Jean Deaux's 2011 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon? Could it be because you *prefer* it? And isn't that a SUBjective answer?

                                Wine tasting/appreciation/evaluation is NOT a science. I can give you six wines (blind) at 10 am on Tuesday and you will rank them 1-6. I can give you those same wines -- once again, blind and in a different order -- Wednesday at 5 pm, and you will again rank them 1-6 . . . but they'll be a different ranking!

                                Have you ever heard of a T-test? (The "T" is for "triangle.") Simply put, you have three wines in front of you, two of which are the same . . . pick out the wine that's different. Again. And again . . . most people will fail to do this consistently. The overall results are generally no better than guessing at random.

                                So, let me say this again: according to UC Davis (one of the world's top universities for all things wine), on the 20-point scale, the human tongue has a "built-in error factor" of +/- 1.5 points.

                                Does that mean the ranking was wrong? No.

                                Does it mean that Stag's Leap Cab was NOT first? No.

                                Where did I ever say the results of the 1976 Paris tasting was "a product of random choice"? It was a PR stunt that helped to put California wines on the world's radar, and for that, I shall be ever grateful! It helped provide me with an excellent career and a very fun series of jobs.

                                But let's remember that we are talking about wine here, not "gospel truth." It's not as if Moses handed down tablets with the results etched in stone. Indeed, when it comes to wine tasting/appreciation/evaluation, very little is ever etched in stone . . . .


                          2. re: zin1953

                            I've heard before about how different wines will age differently as the French argued that their wines needed to age longer before they were tested against American wines.

                            But, is it that common to see a wine that will be strong out of the gate and age as one of the top wines 30 years later, but dip in the intevening years? I guess I was expecting to see Stag's Leap to peak at some point and wasn't expecting to do so well on two tests that were so far apart in time.

                            1. re: hobbess

                              It's difficult to draw an aging curve on this site, but suffice it to say that wines do *not* age like a "stick-figure mountain" -- /\ -- improving day-after-day until they reach their ultimate "peak," only to decline day-after-day until they fall apart.

                              GENERALIZATION: Wines age in a series of "peaks and valleys," which each peak being "higher" than the last. During each preliminary peak, the wine will drink beautifully, be immensely enjoyable, but during those "valleys," wines are often described as being in a "dumb" or "backward" phase -- they will be disjointed, not showing much character, or simply "blah." Eventually, the wine hits its ultimate plateau (not a peak), and stays there for some time, before beginning to decline -- one last hurrah -- and then, its long, slow, inevitable descent into oblivion . . . .

                              This process happens with every wine, whether it's a classic Bordeaux / California Cabernet, a White Burgundy or even a Beaujolais . . . take the basic pattern and expand it to 30, 40, 50+ years, or contract it to 3, 4, or 5 years -- the pattern is same, but the time from "start" to plateau, how long the wine remains on its plateau, and the number of peaks in between will all vary . . .


                              1. re: zin1953

                                This is why a resource like Cellartracker can be so helpful. I always check recent tasting notes on any older wine I'm thinking of opening just to ensure it's not presently in a dumb/mute phase.

                                Some wines show in a wonderful way when young - for example, a primary tasting but highly kinetic young cru beaujolais - and then start to shut down after, say, a year in bottle. They re-emerge as a somewhat different wine, with the primary fruit transforming into a more vinous and complex profile and the energetic mouthfeel softening into a more graceful, nuanced experience.

                                As another example, no one believes the 2009 burgundies will be on par with the 2005 vintage (or even 2008). But the vintage is showing exceptionally well young, gloriously rich spicy fruity and all that, while the 2005s remain, in the vernacular, "shut down hard". I plan to buy a decent amount of 2009s, most of which I'll probably be drinking young as I wait for the future glory of the 2005s.

                                1. re: Ricardo Malocchio

                                  As another example, no one believes the 2009 burgundies will be on par with the 2005 vintage (or even 2008).
                                  Really? We're talking red burgundies? I was under the impression 2008 burgundies aren't that highly regarded. Has that changed since bottling?


                                  2009 on the other hand, is being projected to be pretty good.


                                  1. re: Porthos

                                    Despite my quotations of columnist Matt Kramer elsewhere, I don't subsribe to the Spectator. The magazine or its POV. They're cheerleaders of a certain style of overripe, overextracted, high-alcohol, low acid, international styled wine that I dislike.

                                    But, yes, you're quite right that 2009 is being heralded as yet another "Vintage of the Millennium!" Truthfully, we've been in a streak of quite good vintages ever since the green-meanies plague of 2004, with 2005 being the highest water mark and 2007 probably being the most questionable. And, of course, everything's much more complicated in Burgundy given the massive profusion of varying terroirs, microclimates, etc. And, yes, I am looking forward to the 2009s, of which I've only tasted a few Givrys, the earliest bottlings to roll in here... two 1er crus and one semi-regarded lieu-dit.

                                    The dig on 2009 is that it may display many of the negative tendencies of overripe vintages, with insufficient acidity to maintain balance enough to make old bones. They are certainly opulent and a bit distressingly high octane. This makes the lovers of a certain, very forward, young drinking style of wine happy (the Wine Spectator readers), but creates no small amount of trepidation among the hardcore burg-o-philes as to whether these wines will age gracefully and become true expressions of Burgundian typicity.

                                    But make no mistake: I'm buying. And probably drinking young. No one doubts whether this is a good vintage, but let me leave you with a few of Jon Gilman's observations to consider alongside the Wine Spectator's (along with the usual Burgundy caveat: you can't generalize about Burgundy!):

                                    Gilman: "The 2009 Burgundy vintage has produced a very large number of stunning reds and whites. Of this there can be no doubt, but it is very far from a consistent vintage- both in terms of quality and stylistic bent- and thus not every well-made 2009 is likely to dovetail precisely with the personal palate preferences of each and every Burgundy lover. * * * * It is a vintage of very ripe, almost over the top styled wines that sport more than a bit of ripe fruitcake elements in the case of the reds and tropical fruit tones in the case of the white wines in this camp, and both reds and whites in this slightly riper style can at times also betray a bit of alcohol on the back end. The riper wines are also decidedly more fruit-driven than the more precisely terroir-reflective wines that were picked a bit earlier, and these more buxom reds and whites are much more likely to delight newcomers to the magic of Burgundy than they are the more seasoned hands with a decade or two’s worth of top flight Burgundy vintages under their belts (or in my case, over the belt).

                                    "Many of these riper wines that I tasted are beautifully made, with characteristics that recall the 1990 reds in their youth, or in the case of the whites, the best of the 1989 vintage. But others in this camp are a bit more coarse in style and a bit less convincing to my (admittedly rather spoilt) Burgundy palate. 2005 produced a vintage of deep and structured red wines (the whites are of course another story in ’05) that will age forever, particularly given their very substantial spines of tangy acidity to go along with their serious tannic shoulders. The 2009s do not share either this sturdiness of ripe tannin nor the backbone of acidity, and consequently the only similarities one might find between even the best 2009s and the 2005 reds is in the aspirations of some merchants to charge similar tariffs."

                                    Gilman on 2008: "As to the style of the 2008s that I tasted, both the reds and the whites are quite defined by their tangy acidities, which have translated into wines of beautiful purity, striking expressions of terroir and impeccable poise, elegance and great energy on the finish. A commentator once said something along the lines of “all great vintages being first and foremost low acid vintages”, but in fact, one sees most often the case in Burgundy that the truly profound vintages down through the ages are the higher acid vintages, and this characteristic is certainly promising for the positive evolutions in store for so many of the top 2008s of both colors. Higher acid vintages in Burgundy are usually the ones that produce the most beautiful and profound expressions of terroir in the wines over their long lives in bottle, and there will be no shortage of gloriously pure and transparent 2008s gracing Burgundy lovers’ tables a generation from now."

                                    1. re: Ricardo Malocchio

                                      Interesting, I didn't know that 2009 was considered overripe. I've heard that about the 2005 possibly being that. Thanks for the alternate POV!

                                      In the spectator article, wine makers were comparing the 2009 to the 1999 vintage (which I enjoyed). Do you recall if 1999 was initially considered a ripe vintage, a more acidic one, or something in between? I get the sense that 1999 was initially underrated and has developed into something excellent. It was a 1999 burg that has me second guessing my bordeaux tendencies.

                                      Maybe you could start another thread on 2009 Burgundy? Thanks.

                                      1. re: Porthos

                                        "Overripe" is a decidedly subjective call!

                                        And I think this speaks more to the style rather than the overall quality, which is certainly above average across the board at the very least. And I can tell you that the 2009 Givry's I've had - and this is the other side of the tracks in Burgundy - have oodles of that gorgeous fruit and spice pinot noir is capable of, but without any of that syrupy heaviness of some West Coast pinots. I didn't notice any heat on the finish despite 13.5% ABV (which is in the higher range for Burgundy). I think it's a question of whether the 09s will age into the sort of profound Burgundy wines spoken of in hushed, reverential tones, or if this is a vintage that will be relished in a different way, younger and fresher, and with great exuberance!

                                        The drift... I know! Another thread would probably be appropriate, but maybe the OP would possibly consider Burgundy as "a better option for the price"? I think so, but I do recognize the minefield that is shopping for Burgundy especially for the unfamiliar (and I consider myself mostly so!). There are so many variables and complexities, terroirs and producers, that in addition to the wines from those few, reliable producers that I find myself returning to year after year, I rely largely on the crutches of Allen Meadows and Jon Gilman. I find their analysis helpful not just as voices of authority, but as guides that help me follow my own palate preferences.

                                        For ex, Gilman on 2009 compared to 1999 ( a very brief and highly edited excerpt from a long, detailed report): "The analogy with the ‘99s is a bit more meaningful [than the 2005s]... But in many aspects, the top 2009s are superior to their counterparts in 1999, as they are inherently more elegant and refined. ... I left the region in the middle of December with a profound respect for the greatest examples of the vintage, and also rather bewildered as to how best describe the myriad of variations to be found ... [E]ven in the camp of the very best 2009 reds, there are wide swings in structural style. Some wines are absolutely voluptuous on the palate, with low acids, very modest tannins and a seductive early appeal ... very much like the 1985s out of the blocks, but perhaps with even more slinky, early appeal. On the other hand, there are also decidedly more structured wines that harness this beautiful fruit and very elegant style into much sturdier renditions of the vintage, with plenty of ripe tannins and often pretty good acidity ... Think of this stylistic grouping of top 2009s as more reminiscent of the 1999 reds, but with much more sophisticated and elegant tannins on the backend and perhaps not quite the same density in the mid-palate."

                                        1. re: Ricardo Malocchio

                                          What GCs have you had from 2009 that you would recommend? I ordered a few bottles of 2009 Faiveley as pre-arrival before they sold out. No GCs were available to me. I haven't seen any more released since.

                                          Backed up the proverbial truck on some 2005 Robert Chevillon that became available to me recently. Good to hear you speak so highly of the 2005s.

                                          1. re: Porthos

                                            I've only tasted some Givry's - no Grand Crus there! But the two 1er crus, a Francois Lumpp Petite Marole and Domaine Parize Clos les Grandes Vignes, were both very voluptuous and spicy, and drinking like gangbusters. I also had a lieu-dit from Parize, the "Champ Nalot", which was a simpler, but very exuberant, satisfying wine, and especially so at $22!

                                            I also have two 09 V. Dauvissat 1er cru Chablis... but I haven't drunk them yet! I'm not exactly holding them, though I think that's probably advisable. For 09 white burgundy, I've been making do with village level Matrot and Fevre bottlings (nothing very special, but I've certainly enjoyed them).

                                            Love Chevillon. Hard to go wrong there! I'll be looking to get some 09 Chevillon, and most likely some Henry Gouges, Chandon de Briailles, and Thibault Liger-Belair. You know... to go with all that DRC that I'll never afford! I'll also be looking for more of the less heralded terroirs, Givry and elsewhere, as across the board quality may be a defining characteristic of this vintage. And, of course, definitely looking for good deals on 2008 closeouts!

                                            1. re: Ricardo Malocchio

                                              Sorry, I thought you meant Gevrey-Chambertin. Obviously, I have zero experience with Givry.

                                              Really like Thibault Liger-Belair also. I also managed a bottle of 2005 Henry Gouges 1er Cru "Les Pruliers" at this recent truck backing.

                                              How many years do you typically wait for your Chevillon and Gouges?

                                              1. re: Porthos

                                                This will be my first vintage buying Gouges, but my plan right now is to buy the reds for young drinking. And so long as everyone keeps reporting that these wines are wide open and drinking well, and I keep finding that to be the case... well, I'll be drinking them with gusto! Especially when the Fall weather hits, and those Fall flavors start arriving at the table.

                                                I feel like I've been looking at my locked down 2005s for so long, wondering when they'll start coming around, so I'm kinda thrilled that we have such a highly considered, early drinking vintage on the way! Of course, I'm sure I'll try to lay down a few, but the plan is to leave the 05s, lay down a few more 08s on closeout, and drink the 09s ... I'm looking for instant gratification!

                                                1. re: Porthos

                                                  @Porthos: you should look for Givrys. some very good to excellent qpr Burg, I've found. Joblot is a top name in the area, but I haven't had any bad ones.

                                                  1. re: ChefJune

                                                    I will if the opportunity comes up. Currently, my preferred merchant (KL) does not carry any Givrys. I will keep an eye out from now on though.

                            2. re: hobbess

                              hobness, here is my opinion: all CA wines were "winners" in 1976....meaning, Napa went from 0 to 60 in media attention. Wine tastings/winnings/notes offer nothing "definitive" but they inform in such a way as to either encourage you to try it and buy it- or encourage you to avoid it. Wine tastings make you pay attention. The wines that were there, were (and still are) really GOOD ones. In the reverse....because Mouton didn't "win"...I would hardly call it crap!!!! LOL.

                              I offered the idea of the Clos du Val as an option for you (being interested in the '76 tasting) because it is still a *classically* made wine (13.5 percent alcohol) for a great price (the classic is like 35 bucks) they age really well-and would make a nice gift. I think they sell their cabs with like 4 years age...so you could bring it and share it at dinner or give as a gift for the cellar and it will age years and years more. What a thoughtful guest you would be :)

                              The Stags is not as *consistent* as Clos in the aging respect -and of course, is not under original ownership anymore (so that dampers your "story" a bit) , the Artemis is not the top of the food chain there, and the price is higher for all of the above. That being said- Artemis is still a nice wine to bring to dinner.If having the "number 1 winner" label is important for you, the evening, the story, etc. then by all means- Artemis is very nice.

                              I think all Stags Leap Cellars wines are still wonderful wines too. I don't think "chowhounds" dislike it. There have only been a few responses here (remember there are more reading and not commenting either way) and one poster here- - doesn't *like* CA wines in general(which is fine but not typical). I think most folks (CH or not) really like Stags and would be happy with a bottle if you brought it to dinner. Especially if they have never tried it. You would still be a thoughtful guest.

                              The price/ enjoyment aspect is more what people are responding to in general, I think, that might make it sound a bit negative. All the other wines that were competition wines then- are still really great wines IMHO but they are very pricey for just the "bring a nice bottle over for Saturday night" kind of a thing (which I got from your OP). Heck, if you want a really special CA old school competition bottle to bring....bring a Ridge Monte Bello, my FAV.........but it is 150 bucks! Yikes....not your typical "guest bottle" gift.

                              1. re: sedimental

                                As far as Stag's Leap Wine Cellars not being under the original ownership any longer, for the record, neither is Freemark Abbey, nor Ridge Vineyards . . . or Stags' Leap Winery -- just to confuse the situation a bit. ;^)

                          3. re: hobbess

                            Ditto what Jason said, and in 1986 they came in 1st place at the 10 year rematch which looked at aging. I have a fairly well stocked cellar with Clos du Val and am still drinking and serving the wine 30 years later. It is certainly a classic but didn't (and still doesn't) get the "press hype" of many other famous CA cabs. It is doubtful anyone would be disappointed with a bottle as a wine gift or to bring as a guest - and the price is really nice.

                          4. re: sedimental

                            I believe the movie "Bottle Shock" is based on the story . . .

                              1. re: zin1953

                                Was the second movie ever finished? Released?

                          5. Price range?

                            Under $200 . . . what about Joseph Phelp's Insignia?

                            1. OK, I'm gonna say this in the interest of a sincere discussion, not bomb-throwing:

                              Cabernet Sauvignon makes a boring, pedestrian, totally prosaic varietal wine. It's non transparent to terroir, tasting much the same anywhere it's planted. I'm more and more of a mind that it's a blending grape at best, made special only in combination with merlot, cab franc, etc.

                              And you'll pay top dollar to be so bored.

                              26 Replies
                              1. re: Ricardo Malocchio

                                Needless to say few would agree with your rather provocative comment -- I notice you left a BIG "out" for Bordeaux! -- yet, IMHO, you *do* make a valid observation . . . up to a point.

                                Ricardo, I have no idea how old you are, and certainly we've never shared a bottle of wine together, but it is EXTREMELY DIFFICULT to come up with a 100% varietal Cabernet Sauvignon -- i.e.: a Cabernet with absolutely ZERO Merlot, Cab Franc, etc., etc. However, certainly some of the old Beaulieu Vineyard "George de Latour" Private Reserve Cabs made by André Tchlistcheff have been some of the finest wines I have ever had in my life! The 1970, 1968, and more -- all were 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, and were certainly NOT "non transparent to terroir."

                                Other Cabernet Sauvignons with a *definite* sense of place -- but not necessarily 100% varietal -- include Ridge "Monte Bello," Alhgren "Bates Ranch," Howell Mountain "Howell Mtn.," "Laurel Glen "Estate," Quilceda Creek, L'Ecole No. 41, and more . . . .

                                But all that aside, there is no questioning the reality of companies like Enologix and Vinovation, and their impact on the wines of the US and a resulting similarity among them . . .

                                Might I suggest you read "An Ideal Wine: One Generation's Pursuit of Perfection - and Profit - in California," by David Darlington. http://www.amazon.com/Ideal-Wine-Gene... It's definitely worth reading.


                                P.S. In the interest of full disclosure, a) I know the author; b) I know most of the people in the book personally -- some better than others, but still; and c) I seem to be mentioned in the book's index several times . . . .

                                1. re: zin1953

                                  That looks like a fascinating book. I've long been a fan of Randall Grahm - I'll read almost anything where he's quoted! - and of course I'm not at all a fan of Frankenwines. Those that aren't totally undrinkable due to excessive oak, extraction or alcohol are simply boring, glossy pretenses of wine, with layer upon layer of membrane erected between the drinker and the truth. Give me a wine that speaks honestly, warts and all, over those collagen-lipped, chemically peeled, mega purpled fakes. I can't find the life, much less the soul in those wines.

                                  But I'm not really speaking to the whole UC-Davis, wine born in a chem-lab thing. That treatment's been applied to all sorts of varieties. I'm making a much more subjective, and perhaps much less compelling statement: Cabernet Sauvignon is boring!

                                  I know. What's the use of arguing something so personal and subjective as taste? I don't want to sound like a crank and I hope I'm not simply being contrarian. I've had a few 1st and 2nd growths from the early 80s that were undeniably wonderful even if they didn't quite speak the wine language I love, but my cellar is as bare of Bordeaux as it is single-varietal Cabernet Sauvignon from the new world.

                                  Truthfully, I would jump all over the opportunity to taste 70s/80s era Montelena, BV/Latour, and the like, but I can't help but think that I'd feel much the same about these as I do the classic Bordeaux - fine, polished, pedigreed wines that don't really move me. Certainly not like Burgundy. But also not like a warm, gauzy chenin blanc from the Loire, a mysterious savagnin from the Arbois, or a classic white Rioja from a maker like Lopez de Heredia (ok, there is no maker quite like LdH). All wines that someone with differing tastes might well reject out-of-hand.

                                  My comment above was posted after a recent dinner at Mamma Maria's in Boston where one of the wines ordered was a 2007 Stag's Leap Artemis. It was the most expensive wine ordered that night, and the last soldier standing at the end of the meal. This was a family affair, not a wine geek crowd. Going under the theory that the first bottles drunk tend to be best, a very clear preference was shown for such "lesser" wines as a Barbera d'Alba, albeit a Giacosa, an Oregon Pinot Noir (Cooper Mountain?), a Vietti Perbacco langhe nebbiolo, and even a cheapo Moscato. Not wanting to walk around the rest of the evening with one of those huge plastic take-aways required in Boston for unfinished wine, we set about to finish the bottle. As I was chewing down my last sip of same ol' green bell pepper, same ol' currant, same ol' cassis, and same ol' brawny tannins and hot alcohol finish, I looked around at the other faces preoccupied with the chore of drinking this wine. At least that night, it wasn't just me.

                                  1. re: Ricardo Malocchio

                                    In the FWIW Dept., Bordeaux -- and CA Cabs, for that matter, today do not seem like the same wines as they were in the mid-1980s and before . . . Bordeaux made after the mid-1980s leaves me feeling much like you describe. But before then, and I'm in heaven! California Cabernets? Same thing. Round number for the sake of discussion: I'm guessing that the number of Bordeaux/Cabernet I have in my cellar is certainly less than 10 percent of my total cellar, most of that is either old Bordeaux or early-1990s Washington State Cabs. I can't remember the last time I purchased a bottle of Bordeaux or varietal Cabernet Sauvignon -- and certainly nothing from the 21st Century . . .


                                    1. re: zin1953

                                      If Bordeaux and Cab have sold out to the marketing machine and only constitue 10 percent of your cellar, then what are you buying in the 21st Century that occupies a place in your cellar?

                                        1. re: Scott M

                                          Well, FIRST let me quickly point out that not ALL Bordeaux, not all Cabernet, have "sold out to the marketing machine" (I'm not even sure I know exactly what that means). That said, I stopped buying Bordeaux and Cabernet because my tastes had changed . . . AND the style of (most of) the wines themselves had changed, and in ways not to my tastes.

                                          These are two different things. Even "traditional" Cabernets began to lose interest for me, and the "modern" Cabernets were just -- well, they left me cold.

                                          SECONDLY, I should remind you that what I said was "certainly less than 10 percent." This is very different than saying they "constitue 10 percent of your cellar." It may sound like nit-picking, but I don't mean it to be. I honestly think it's closer to five percent, but I was hedging my bet . . .

                                          Also, you should remember that, despite growing up in California, I grew up drinking (primarily) European wines. Starting at age 10 (1963), I began tasting and learning about wine -- and back then, what California wines were world-class "superstars"?

                                          Starting with the 1982 vintage, I was buying Burgundies, and with the 1985 vintage, I was buying Rhônes (both north and south).

                                          Today, when it comes to reds, I'm still buying some Burgundies and Rhônes, along with some wines from Provence and the Languedoc. I buy some Basque reds, some Italians, as well as wines from Spain and, especially, Portugal.

                                          Whites mostly come from the Loire and Burgundy, as well as Alsace, Spain, and Austria.

                                          I also cellar Champagne, vintage Porto, and more . . . .

                                          When it comes to California, I do buy some Zins, some Petite Sirahs, and some Syrahs -- but in the Edmond St. Johns-Terre Rouge-Dashe-Ridge-Storrs mode. When it comes to Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, it's almost exclusively Santa Cruz Mountains. Same with any California sparkling wines -- Santa Cruz Mountains.


                                          1. re: zin1953

                                            P.S. I'm also buying Cru de Beaujolais . . .

                                            1. re: zin1953

                                              < P.S. I'm also buying Cru de Beaujolais . . >

                                              A very good plan!
                                              The '09's are supposed to be marvelous.

                                            2. re: zin1953

                                              Thanks for the information and clarification.

                                              As far as the "marketing machine" comment, I was referring to the idea that many wineries are more driven to getting scores, being featured in the media, etc. Rather than staying true to the place, varietal, etc.

                                              My sense from reading many of the posts is that some feel that the art of winemaking has been lost or at the very least has changed stylistically to appease the taste of a handful of wine critics in order to garner scores.

                                              1. re: Scott M

                                                In the World of Winemaking, there have ALWAYS been (for lack of better terminology) the "traditional" and the "industrial" wineries. Think, historically, about wineries like Martin Ray, Hanzell, or Beaulieu compared to Ernest & Julio Gallo, Italian Swiss Colony, and Taylor of New York.

                                                The difference in what I will broadly term the "Parker Era" -- but in all honestly, it's not (all) his fault (see below*) -- is that you still have the "traditionalists," although now they are called "terroiristes" and may (or may not) be organic, bio-dynamic, or . . . whatever! You also still have the "industrialists," though this has spread/expanded from the jug wine segment of the marketplace into the highest reaches of the "vinosphere."

                                                Remember when DuPont used the advertising slogan, "Better Living . . . Through Chemistry"? Well, with the rise in power of people and publications like Robert Parker's "The Wine Advocate" and "Wine Spectator" -- am I the only one who preferred "The Wine Spectator" to today's version? -- wineries have gotten swept up in the "Race for Ratings."

                                                Now don't get me wrong: wines have ALWAYS been rated by wine writers, wine judges, wine competitions, and consumers. But there certainly is something about the 100-point scale that hit the consumer's "lust center" in ways that things like the European 7-point scale, the UC Davis 20-point scale, or Michael Broadbent's 5-star scale, and Connoisseur's Guide to California Wine "Michelin star system" never did, nor dreamed of! The result: 94 has become the new 90, and no one even looks at your wine if it got an 88 or an 89 . . .

                                                How stupid is that?

                                                OK, that's not the winemaker's fault per se, but many a winery can/would be in financial trouble if they get too many 88s and not enough 95s . . . so, what to do? Hire "magic" consultants (i.e.: don't trust your winemaker anymore), either by hiring "flying winemakers" to tell you what to do, or people like Leo McCloskey or Clark Smith to manipulate your wine so Parker will score it highly, and you can make $$$$ . . .

                                                Personally, I'd rather be in the Douro treading in the lagares.

                                                OK, I'm off my soap box.


                                                * Parker didn't necessarily run for God, but he didn't turn down the position either, and there is no doubting the power of his writing, the influence of his words.

                                                1. re: zin1953

                                                  "OK, that's not the winemaker's fault per se, but many a winery can/would be in financial trouble if they get too many 88s and not enough 95s"

                                                  Heck, the last few years I have found RP 88 or to be the sweet spot! Most everything over 94 is undrinkable. Parker has completely lost it and Miller never had it. Galloni and Scheldnickt (sp) were pretty reliable up until I finally canceled my sub two years ago.

                                                  1. re: jock

                                                    But you see, Jock, that's the problem . . . Parker's number -- regardless of whether it's an 88, a 92, or even a 100 -- is NO guarantee, in and of itself, that you or I or anyone else will like the wine . . .

                                                    When you say "88 to be the sweet spot," I have no idea what that means. First of all, it that true across the board? Cabernets, Zinfandels, Syrahs, Rieslings, Chenin Blancs, Champagnes, Pinots . . . for everything? Secondly, there are any number of reasons why a wine could score "88" as opposed to something different.* Perhaps it's lighter/heavier in body than the ideal; perhaps it's a little too high/too low in acidity than the ideal; perhaps it's a bit too intense, or not intense enough . . . only by reading the tasting note(s) can one tell, or at least get an idea, why the rating for a wine is "x" instead of "y." The number on its own is useless to me.

                                                    And yet, we all know of people -- and perhaps have been guilty of it ourselves -- who "buy by-the-number."


                                                    1. re: jock

                                                      "Most everything over (RP) 94 is undrinkable."

                                                      And your sample size is how large to make such a grandiose statement??

                                                      1. re: Eugene Park

                                                        Well, I'm not Jock, but a) I've had dozens and dozens (if not hundreds) of wines rated 94 or higher by "The Wine Advocate," and b) to generalize, one CAN'T generalize.

                                                        So let me generalize . . .

                                                        Robert Parker is amazingly, incredibly, overwhelmingly, phenomenally consistent. That is his strength. That said, I find that I agree with The Wine Advocate when it comes to, for example, Southern Rhônes and Champagnes, disagree somewhat with him on Northern Rhônes and Burgundies, and disagree much of the time on Cabernets and Bordeaux. So, I find that (to generalize) the higher rated a California Cabernet is, the less I find it personally to my liking.

                                                        Note: Keep in mind that a) I have *never* subscribed personally to the Wine Advocate, but have always had a "professional" subscription virtually everywhere I've worked; and b) I still relate to The Wine Advocate as if it was all written by Parker and Rovanni. (In other words, I forget who writes what today.)

                                                        So when it comes to California Cabernets, I, too, tend to "prefer" wines with scores in the high 80s rather than high 90s.


                                                        1. re: zin1953

                                                          Thanks for chiming in, Jason. Can I ask how often you've revisited highly rated California cabs after they've had more time to mature in the bottle, and if your disenchantment with them still persists?

                                                          I bring that up b/c I run into a lot of people who say things along the lines of "such & such highly rated, expensive juice is overrated, and a much cheaper producer of the same juice is better IMO". Then it comes out that they popped open the most recent vintage of such & such, and they've never had such & such that has been cellared long enough to have improved considerably (IMO).

                                                          1. re: Eugene Park

                                                            Yeah . . . they don't do it for me with age, either.

                                                            Having spent 35 years in the California wine business, I have a lot of friends who are winemakers who are either employed by, or own, many a famous name in Napa Valley, Sonoma, and throughout the state. Even more of my friends are "seriously into" wines, either as people involved in various facets of the wine trade -- like me -- or who, while "only" consumers, are people who've loved wine for a considerable time and have "cellars" (although perhaps not underground) ranging from 50-500 cases.

                                                            I know I've said this before, but let me just say, "you can't generalize . . . so let me generalize." In other words, EVERY generalization have loopholes big enough to drive the proverbial Mack truck through -- does anyone still remember what a Mack truck is? -- and so there are plenty of *specific* exceptions to the broad sweeping statements we all make.

                                                            Much of the time, I find that I actually prefer these highly rated Cabernets in their youth, when their abundant, dense ripe fruit holds the alcohol in check, and they stand as showpiece wines on their own -- and I'd much prefer to drink something else with food, something else period. As these Cabernets age, I find they get more and more out-of-balance, and are often "worse" with time (meaning I find more not to like about them with age than I did in their youth).

                                                            There have been some truly stunning exceptions to this, however. The 1993 Bryant Family Cabernet, for example, was a wine that blew me away at dinner a few years ago. But writing this at 7:30 on a Sunday morning, sipping my cappuccino, that's the only one that comes to mind at the moment -- although, I am sure, there have been a few others. None, apparently, quite so memorable, however.


                                                          2. re: zin1953

                                                            "And your sample size is how large to make such a grandiose statement??"

                                                            Pretty large actually. I subscribed to WA from 1984 until 2009 and tasted 2,000 to 3,000 wines a year during that time. Parker stated out as a fairly reliable taster for me and I agree with Jason that he is consistent even now. Our tastes have diverged dramatically in the past 15 or so years.

                                                            In the past I used Parker as a guide to what I might like. Lately I find him a better guide to what I might dislike. Why? He has a high tolerance for brett and seems to really like it - I, on the other hand, consider it a huge flaw. He, for some reason, has always refused to specifically id wines with brett but there are some "code" words. I figured them out long ago and still considered him a good guide for a while.

                                                            The big change starting in the early 1990s has been his tendency to give bigger and bigger scores to bigger and bigger wines. i.e. very ripe fruit, high extract and high alcohol. Please notice I did not use the prefix "over" with any of those because that is subjective. For me that prefix is very appropriate but I realize that for many it is not. If I see the "code" words "blockbuster" or "tour de force" the wine usually gets a very big number and I usually hate it.

                                                            Those big wines do not suit my tastes and uses. I find they are very difficult to pair with food because they tend to overpower most dishes. They are usually "one dimensional" and lack complexity and balance. They often win the tasting simply because they are usually poured last. To quote Mickey Gilly “The girls all get prettier at closing time.” If you want a wine to win a tasting it will have a better chance if it comes at the end rather than the beginning. To paraphrase David Fish when two women walk into a room the one you notice first is the one with the cleavage. In the long run you may find the one with high cheekbones more interesting and attractive. (For me the latter applies to both wine and women.)

                                                            To try to answer Eugene's question above - IMO they do not age well at all. Drink ‘em young because when a wine starts out out of balance it just get more out of balance over time.

                                                            Cases in point -

                                                            Case 1. 1974 Diamond Creek cabs- huge tannins and big scores from the critics of the time. The advice was to "hold and the tannins will soften". Never happened! The tannins are still there but what little fruit they had disappeared long ago. I still have a couple of bottles to prove it.

                                                            Case 2. The BV reserves from the late 60s and early 70s when André was in his prime. (the Mondavi reserves too for that matter). If the corks haven't failed (don't even get me started on corks) and the wine has been properly stored the 1970 BV reserve is still glorious and I still have a couple of bottles to prove that also.

                                                            (If Jason, Sedimental and Ricardo happen to converge on Phoenix sometime this fall we can give it a shot.)

                                                            Jason – FWIW Parker and Rovani both sucked on Burg and Champagne. DS has done them recently and he was/is actually pretty good on both, especially on Champagne.

                                                            1. re: jock


                                                              Rovani and I (and to a lesser extent Parker himself) would regularly argue about Burgundies over on what is now the eBob website -- I disagreed with him/them about styles, quality, many a great producer . . . about quite a lot. Indeed, Rovani once called me on the phone to yell at me! ;^) There have been one or two producers, however, that I was turned onto by the WA, and thus my use of the term "somewhat" above.

                                                              OTOH, since I was importing Dominique Laurent at the time, from a strictly mercenary point-of-view, who could argue with their impeccable reviews? From a personal point-of-view, I will confess to actually enjoying some of Laurent's wines -- his straight a/c Bourgogne, and a couple of his Villages-level wines, but I never personally enjoyed the Premiers Crus and Grands Crus that got all the hype. I found them all overdone -- or, rather, I found them all to be a "tour de force," and not to my taste.

                                                              As for Champagnes, IIRC, Terry Theise's portfolio first came to my attention via Parker's publication, and so for that, I owe him a debt of gratitude.


                                                              The 1974 Diamond Creeks are a perfect example of wines that were out-of-balance (in one direction) when young, and that guarantees they will be out-of-balance when old. The wines were so tannic and astringent in their youth, they'd rip your cheeks apart with their ridiculously high tannin levels . . . and yet, THAT was when you *needed* to drink them -- while they had at lease *some* fruit! As they aged, there were just tannic, fruitless, and devoid of character. The fruit faded long before the tannins softened . . .

                                                              I find many of today's Cabernets are, to once again generalize, just as out-of-balance, yet in a different direction -- too much extract, too much alcohol, not enough acidity -- and the result is that these wines, too, do not age very well (IMHO).

                                                              Louis Martini used to describe aging wine like a man on a high wire. As long as that tightrope walker had his (or her) balance, they could make it across safely from one end to the other. But load up one side of that pole or the other with stuff, and that walker is in trouble -- out-of-balance, and well, hopefully, he has a safety net to break his fall. Problem is, wines don't have a safety net. If it's out-of-balance in its youth, it won't age well and will be out-of-balance when it's older. In other words, it will fall apart before reaching "the other side."

                                                              Jock, you and I agree on this . . .


                                                              1. re: zin1953

                                                                Some random comments --

                                                                Had the 93 Bryant very young and loved it. It was big but both complex and balanced. Haven't had it again but am not surprised by your notes. Haven't been impress at all since. Tops my least favorite list of current big guns.

                                                                IRRC Laurent was the 200% new oak guy on his GC Burgs and I too preferred his village Gevrey. John Lindsey turned me on to Laurent and a lot of others like ZH. Torbreck and Clarendon Hills in the mid 90s. Back then I was "just" a consumer. Back then I bought for myself and for the Phoenix Wind and Food Society. Around 2000 I got stupid and got into the wine biz. Now out.

                                                                Louis Martini made some wonderful stuff especially in the 60s. His 1968 Barbera enjoyed sometime in the late 1970s is still one of my "epiphany" wines. Used to take ice chest full of Moscato Amible back to AZ twice a year.

                                                                I damn near got kicked off ERP for disagreeing with RP and PR about their ratings and for daring to suggest that RP would do his readers a service by identifying wines with brett so that those who did not care for it would know for certain. I guess he does not consider it a flaw - 99 pts for 89 Beaucastel??

                                                                PS: Terry Theise may be the only guy in the world more sensitive to TCA than I am. He may also be the most interesting wine "writer" living today even if it is self-serving to a degree.

                                                                1. re: jock

                                                                  I think I sold those bottles to John....

                                                              2. re: jock

                                                                My 80's wines from Diamond Creek (Gravely Meadow) have been drinking beautifully, I believe I may have none left. My BV reserves from the 80's are also fabulous (no cork problems for me). I have some CA wines from the 70's, but most are aging out and I made a concentrated effort to drink or sell them 10 years ago.

                                                                *Note: I don't mind a bit of Brett and do not consider it a flaw if there is otherwise balance in the wine. So, you might not agree with my definition of "drinking beautifully" as some do have some brett- although more FR have more brett than CA (in the same age range)in my opinion.

                                                                I am sorting my wine room again right now and found a bunch of wines from the 70's. Lot's of Phleps (Eisele) that I had forgotten in there. Some 1980's Phelps are very good and I have been drinking them and I didn't know I had any 70's left.

                                                                So, Jock, for you, I just stood up a 1978 Phelps Eisele Cab for tonight :) I will take one for the team and test it out. I will report back. It could be that (in general) most of the CA's from 1970's are now "done and gone"....right along with my hotpants and platform shoes ;)

                                                                1. re: sedimental

                                                                  "I will take one for the team"

                                                                  How good of you. Glad to know you think of us.

                                                                  BTW last year I opened the 1970 BV and a 1970 Mondavi side-by-side. the BV sang and the Mondavi was still alive and kicking but faded fast.

                                                                  The Phelps was a great wine - hope it has held up for you. It was still very much alive a few years ago.

                                                                  1. re: jock

                                                                    Okay, here is the replay....
                                                                    I have been sorting the wine room (and cleaning) and discovered a wood box of Grace Family 1983 (Green label) Cab. I dislodged a capsule from one- so thought I would do a side by side comparison with the Phelps as we had hours and hours of sunshine and outdoor cooking fun for the evening. I cooked a tapas (of sorts) outside with huge bold flavors (chili, cilantro, tomatillo, etc) and thought the wines would be a big and bold match. They were...and we sipped ice water too.

                                                                    1978 Phelps Eisele: When first decanted, almost hot alcohol on the nose, mellowing within the hour to warm alcohol and developing a woodsy scent, eventually to a more balanced alcohol with a very piney nose, almost resin -like. Good legs, ever so slight bricking, color was a deep garnet. Slight blackberry but not much fruit through the 3.5 hours. Tannins were slightly sharp, good acid- a bit too good, I enjoyed it, went well with all the big flavors early on in the dinner...cut right through the cilantro- not much fruit -so no clash at all. We drank it first so it might have been better in another hour. Not a wine for a mellow meal or on it's own, Phelps always has a strong structure and age doesn't seem to take the structure down much.

                                                                    1983 Grace Family Cab: Disclosure, I have always loved old school Grace and Caymus, I am used to the flavors of the aged grapes (it feels comforting) from both and I bought the wines when they were "all the same". I have many bottles signed by Charles Wagner. Anyway, this wine was jeweled, same slight bricking, nose was also fairly hot at first decant, took longer to mellow out...but man! Did it ever smoooooth out. Spicy cedar scent, almost incense like (sandalwood- or reliving my youth?), long legs, acid is a bit out of whack (almost salty the first hour) and I thought it was not going to make it. Not much fruit left but the cedar and the long woodsy finish was really nice to be the last drinking wine of the evening as the sun goes down. It has now been 4 hours and it is still mellowing out and changing. I am going to light a fire in the fire pit now- and wait :)

                                                                2. re: jock

                                                                  I'm impressed. That's quite a sample size! Kudos..... :)

                                                2. re: Ricardo Malocchio

                                                  come to phoenix this fall and maybe we can arrange it.

                                                  this was intended as a response to Ricardo's post above expressing a desire to taste some old CA stuff.

                                                  1. re: jock

                                                    That would be a treat! I can't quite think of a way to pull that off right now, but your kind invitation is much appreciated. And you never know... :)