Mature Napa Valley Wines

19 March 2013
저자: 지니 조 리

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Ten days in Napa gave me the opportunity to discover some wonderful wines that are truly age-worthy and unique. I never tasted Stony Hill Chardonnay until a friend very generously opened three different vintage – 1992, 1993 and 1994. This vineyard was planted in 1947, surely one of the earliest Chardonnay vineyards in Napa Valley when everyone else was planting ‘White Riesling’ or Pinot Blanc. But we should all be glad that Elenanor and Fred McCrea decided to plant Chardonnay on cool northeast facing slopes high on Spring Mountain because they got the formula right for making cellar-worthy whites from Napa Valley.


Reds from the 1980s and 1960s from Napa were some of my highlights of the trip. Silverado Stag’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon 1989 and the 1984 were both impressive with the ability to cellar for another decade. A wonderful surprise was the 1968 vintage from Napa. A horizontal of three top Cabernets proved that this vintage may be as good as the 1970. These mature wines are a reminder that the best Napa wines age gracefully in a dark cellar and our children will thank us for keeping a few bottles for them to enjoy.


Top Reds:
1. 1968 Ridge Vineyards Monte Bello, Santa Clara County, Santa Cruz Mountains, California, USA
This is an incredibly youthful red that is still vigourous and filled with black fruits. The tannins are firm and the acidity in the background still fresh and lively, lifting the ripe blackberry flavours to the fore. A beautifully aged 45 year old wine with a long finish! (93)


2. 1968 Inglenook Cabernet Sauvignon Cask H12, Rutherford, Napa Valley, California, USA
This bottle took about an hour to come around. At first, the flavours were closed with only hints of dried fruits and smokey notes. After over an hour, the wine started to open up in the glass offering an array of lovely bottled aged flavours – black truffle, autumn leaves, dried violets and leather. Impressive wine, not just because of its age, but because it improved rather than fell apart in the glass over 3 hours. (91)


3. 1989 Silverado Vineyards Stags Leap Cabernet Sauvignon (Magnum), Stags Leap District, Napa Valley, California, USA
This elegant 24-year old Cabernet is a gorgeous expression of both the Stag’ Leap district and the winery’s graceful style. The wine has a silky texture and flavours that combine subtlety and depth. A delicious red that is perfect to drink now. (91)


4. 1984 Silverado Vineyards Stags Leap Cabernet Sauvignon (Magnum), Stags Leap District, Napa Valley, California, USA
A beautifully aged Cabernet that is at its peak. This medium bodied red has supple, smooth tannins and flavours that are gentle and subtle. There are notes of dried fruits, leather and mixed dried herbs. Wonderfully drinkable. (90)


5. 1968 Beaulieu Vineyard Georges de Latour Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California, USA
Among the 1968 Napa Cabernets, this bottle was the only one that was disappointing. The wine was not corked but it was musty and the flavours mute. Dried mushrooms and dusty character on the mid palate and finish. (Not Rated)


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Top whites:
1. 1994 Stony Hill Vineyard Chardonnay, Napa Valley, California, USA
Among the three vintages of Stony Hill Chardonnay (1992, 1993, 1994), this vintage was the most exuberant and youthful. This intense Chardonnay has a silky texture with its acidity and flavours beautifully woven together. The palate explodes with toasted hazelnuts, roasted herbs and hint of red apples. Stony Hill’s hallmark acidity is present and the long finish has a beautiful minerally echo. (93)


2. 1993 Stony Hill Vineyard Chardonnay, Napa Valley, California, USA
This is a remarkably youthful Napa Valley Chardonnay with subtle, beautifully layered flavours. There are hints of ripe apricots, white peach blossom, biscuits and toasted white sesame seeds. A wonderful combination of intensity, generosity and depth without any sense of heaviness. This is not a big, ripe Californian Chardonnay – the shape and size are different – much lighter and more graceful. (92)


3. 1992 Stony Hill Vineyard Chardonnay, Napa Valley, California, USA
While most Californian Chardonnays start to show their age after about five years, this 21 year old beauty barely shows any bottle aged characters. The flavours are lean and savoury, similar to a great Hermitage Blanc. Compared to the other two vintages of Stony Hill, this vintage was the most angular and restrained. I would happily keep this for another 5+ years in my cellar. (90)