Skip to main content

I'm evaluating the maturity of my '97 Cali cabs. Haven't really tasted many since purchasing in volume in '99 & '00. No cork-taint, damage, or anything else obviously flawed about these wines. All purchased retail and stored in ideal conditions.

St Clement - I have read on this forum that this wine is at its peak and I agree. Despite having cellared these bottles in a refrigerated locker since purchase, this wine is at, and perhaps beyond, its peak. Unexpected because I don't remember it to be over-extracted or over-ripe like many '97s at the time I tasted and purchased. I don't believe that once a wine tastes raisiny, port-like or slightly madeirized that there's much to look forward to further down the road. Don't get me wrong. This is a 91+ point wine today, but very ripe. Lovely cherry and currant fruit. Mushroom, pencil lead and sweet cinnamon tannin on the moderately long finish. Complex - flavor profile evolves rapidly in the course of three hours. Medium body and losing integration. Although it was gone on day one, I had the impression that it would fall apart, rather than gain weight, on a second day.

Ristow Quinta de Pedras Vineyard – This wine rocks. Very smooth and well-integrated assortment of dark fruits – currant, blackberry and black cherry. Plump and supple, this wine pleases from start to the long mineral-tinged finish. This wine may improve, but why risk waiting? Nothing lacking – 95 points.

Whitehall Lane Reserve – Oak on the nose. Oak on the palate. The oak never subsides. Red fruit – acidic cranberry. Creamy vanilla and caramel. Tannic finish. 90 points now with unknown potential. I clearly opened too soon, but am perplexed by this wine. I purchased without tasting based on the strength of WS’s 97 point rating – and for $85 per, as I recall. I tasted the ’99 WHLR upon release and liked it a lot better. The ’99 is all about dark fruit and spice. I purchased 3 ‘99s for $64. To each his own, but unless I have tasted first or am highly familiar with a wine’s lineage, I am no longer buying $60+ wines based solely on anyone’s opinion.

Robert Craig Mt. Veeder – Splendid juice! Dark mountain fruit is my niche. Very plump and complex black cherry, cassis, blackberry and plum. Pure and powerful. Great structure – will continue to age. Long, long finish. A clone of the ’94, but not yet at its peak. 93+

St. Clement Oroppas – Flowers and spice on the nose. Very floral on the palate as well. Well integrated, though still young. Bright cherry fruit, good weight and long finish. This is the most interesting wine on the first day. 92 points? I will have more with dinner tonight and follow-up with additional detail. My impression is that it will continue to improve for 2-3 more years.

Only the St. Clement cab should be connsumed now. You’re safe for another year or two with the others and I have no idea when, or if, the WHLR will come around.

Let's roll...
Original Post

Replies sorted oldest to newest

NoCal: i agree with you on the 97 st. supery. it was a rather elegant wine that faded fast. however, i had a bottle of the 97 gallo barrelli creek in may 2004 and thought it still seemed fairly young with plenty of fruit and power. i know there has been some debate on this board over how this wine is ageing. personally, i think it's doing fine. i have one bottle left from my case purchase and am in no rush at all to drink it.
IMO because of the extremely high production of 1997 California wines that they would not last. Most of them were fruit bombs without the sturcture that makes up a wine of long aging capability. The fact is the best wines need paitience and the producers don't worry about about what it does upon release. They are made for the long run and judging them upon release to me seems a worthless endvor unless you're just sampling to see what you want in your cellar for the long term. Even in a good year being selective is just as important as selecting in a difficult year.

Esecially in new world wines such as what California is offering lately. At least with the old word French and German wines you know what you're at least looking for and where to find it.


Add Reply

Link copied to your clipboard.