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The VINO-FINO TASTERS'
JOHN VIGNAU MEMORIAL TASTING
October 18, 2000


1984 & 1985 Napa CABERNETS

Shocked by the sudden passing of our long-time friend and wine-tasting associate John Vignau we put together a set of wines we were certain John would have enjoyed.

The tasting commenced with a bottle of 1959 Dom Perignon Champagne from the cellar of John's best buddy, John McGlothlin.  This was a fairly deep yellow hue, with a nutty, oxidized note on the nose.  The wine was still nicely fizzy and the flavor was superb!  Toasty, smoky, creamy and with a toasted hazelnut note on the long finish.  

We then got down to business, all lifting a glass to John's memory.

The Wines Gerald's Ranking Group Ranking Total Points 1sts/2nds/
Lasts
BEAULIEU VINEYARD
1985 Private Reserve
"Georges de Latour"
7 8 69 0/0/6
CAYMUS VINEYARDS
1984 Napa Valley
"Estate Bottled"
2 3 27 0/3/0
DUNN VINEYARDS
1984
"Howell Mountain"
4 2 27 2/2/0
DUNN VINEYARDS
1985
"Howell Mountain"
3 4 34 0/2/0
FROG’S LEAP WINERY
1984
Napa Valley
6 5 42 1/1/1
SILVERADO VINEYARDS
1985
Napa Valley
5 6 52 0/0/0
SILVER OAK WINE CELLARS
1985 Napa Valley
1 1 20 6/1/0
SPOTTSWOODE WINERY
1985
Napa Valley
8 7 53 0/0/2

8th Place:  BEAULIEU VINEYARD 1985 Napa Valley "Georges de Latour Private Reserve"
Here's a wine from an era when BV had lost its way!  They were making lackluster wines and resting on their laurels.  We've had bottles from BV's "golden age" in the late 1960s and early 1970s (-some may argue the era started well before in the 1950s!-) and these are still alive.  Pity the 1985 was so tired, showing the dried out fragrances and tar-like notes one finds in old-styled Barolo wines.   This wine still had a bit of tannin, too.  Too bad!

7th Place: SPOTTSWOODE 1985 Napa Valley
About a year-and-a-half ago we had a tasting of 1985s and the Spottswoode bottle fared poorly. Upon examining the cork, someone noted it had a flaw (not tainted and corky or papery, but a hole or "canal" all the way through it from top to bottom). The Novaks sent us another bottle and this was included in this tasting. The wine had a very bright fruit note: sweet and plummy very much like the 1994 or 1997 Vintage Portos! On the palate the wine shows similar notes of plums and Porto! The wine is almost too smooth at this stage....very ready to drink. This would have been a great match with venison or game in a Port reduction sauce.

6th Place: SILVERADO VINEYARDS 1985 Napa Valley
Showing hints of chocolate-like aromas, this wine starts out sort of warm and friendly on the nose, but it packs a punch on the palate. It is surprising, since Silverado gets little credit from wine "geeks" as being the source of anything terribly interesting. However, I noted on my score sheet that this is "seriously deep Cabernet." It may have another 5-10 years of life ahead of it! I gave it a star-and-a-half.

5th Place: FROG'S LEAP 1984 Napa Valley
I remember this as a more berry-scented red wine, so I was surprised to find the weedy, stemmy, vegetal notes present in this bottle. The same weedy notes show up on the palate, with some rough and tumble tannins still yet to be resolved. I expect this will wind up with the tar-like notes of the 1985 BV (above). It has another 5-10 years' worth of tannin, but its lack of charm were a disappointment to me. One soul ranked it first and another seconded that motion.

4th Place: DUNN 1985 Howell Mountain
This is an amazing bottle of wine! If you own any, I hope you have many years of life ahead, as this won't be "ready" for another couple of decades! The fragrance has a mildly cedary note and some vanillin. The wine is quite muscular and strong, being very tannic, tough and astringent. Yet, past all the tannins there's a pretty solid core of fruit. It's a "big time" young Cabernet! Two to three stars (but only if you are as young as this wine!).


3rd Place: CAYMUS 1984 Napa Valley
Caymus was still relatively small, so this was an "estate bottled" wine in those days. The fragrance was amazingly fine! There were woodsy notes at the beginning, showing sweet oak and a hint of a forest-floor/mushroom scent (not in a negative way). Medium-full-bodied, this still has a bit of tannin, though it is nicely developed with woodsy, tea-like flavors along with hints of cedar and oak. I'd peg it as having another 3-8+ years of life. Two stars, easily! Maybe more.

2nd Place: DUNN 1984 Howell Mountain
Starting out with a hint of an earthy note on its nose, there's a nice cedary bouquet which blossoms with aeration. Though it's no shrinking violet, it does not seem to have the mega-tannins of its 1985 sibling! I described this, too, as muscular, showing a fair bit of tannin to along with it's intense fruit. For me it's about a star-and-a-half to two stars.

1st Place: SILVER OAK 1985 Napa Valley
The run-away favorite of the group, here's a perfectly outstanding example of Silver Oak!  The wine was very nicely balanced for current drinking, yet it still has some vitality to last a few more years.  The fragrance is textbook Silver Oak:   hints of dill, lumber-yard notes from the American oak and sweet scents.  The herbal, dill notes come through on the palate with finesse and elegance.  This was delicious and a 3-star example of Silver Oak Cabernet! 

The evening concluded with two "bonne bouches".  The first, one of John Vignau's favorite tipples:  Single Malt Scotch whisky!  We had a small bottle of "MacVignau", a well-aged bottle of Springbank which was distilled in 1972!  This was dry, smoky and had a wonderfully long finish.

The second bottle was provided by Jack Sweitzer, a remarkably fine bottle of 1986 Chateau Rieussec Sauternes.  This was rich, honeyed and unctuous on the palate.

VINO FINO TASTING ARCHIVE

2007 RUSSIAN RIVER PINOT NOIRS  February 2010

A RANGE OF FRENCH CHABLIS WINES  January 2010

HOLIDAY DINNER & WINE MARATHON  December 2009

ROSÉ SPARKLING WINES  November 2009

ARGENTINEAN MALBECS  October 2009

WEST COAST CHARDONNAYS  September 2009

GREEK RED WINES  August 2009

2005 BUDGET BORDEAUX  July 2009

CAMPANIAN WHITE WINES  June 2009

MIXED BAG OF CALIFORNIA PINOT NOIRS  April 2009

RIOJA WINES, MOSTLY FROM THE 2004 VINTAGE  March 2009

NORTH COAST PETITE SIRAHS  February 2009

SYRAH & PETITE SIRAH COMPARISON  January 2009

A VINO FINO CHRISTMAS  December 2008

MOSTLY 2005s: NAPA CABERNETS  November 2008

SONOMA COUNTY PINOT NOIRS  October 2008

SANTA RITA HILLS -2006 VINTAGE- PINOT NOIRS  SEPTEMBER 2008

NEWLY RELEASED ZINFANDELS  August 2008

WHITE RHÔNE VALLEY WINES  JULY 2008

LOIRE VALLEY SAUVIGNONS  JUNE 2008

FRENCH CHABLIS 2005-2006  MAY 2008

NORTHERN RHÔNE SYRAHS  APRIL 2008

SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAINS PINOT NOIRS  January 2008

ANNUAL HOLIDAY CHRISTMAS DINNER  December 2007

WEST COAST CHARDONNAYS  November 2007

AUSTRALIAN SHIRAZ  October 2007

SPANISH TEMPRANILLO WINES  September 2007

SONOMA'S 2005 VINTAGE ZINFANDELS  August 2007

CURRENT RELEASE (2004-2005) ZINFANDELS  July 2007

ROS WINES FROM ALL OVER  June 2007

ITALIAN LAGREIN WINES  May 2007

ARGENTINEAN MALBECS  April 2007

SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE PINOT NOIRS  March 2007

MOSTLY 2004 CABERNETS   February 2007

CRU BEAUJOLAIS  January 2007

A VINO FINO CHRISTMAS  December 2006

CALIFORNIA ZINFANDELS  November 2006

PINOT NOIRS of VALUE-PRICING  October 2006

WORLD OF SYRAHS TASTING September 2006

AUSSIE CABERNET-SHIRAZ BLENDS  August 2006

ALEXANDER VALLEY (California)  and MARGARET RIVER (Australia) CABERNETS  July 2006 

CALIFORNIA PETITE SIRAHS  June 2006

2004 NORTH COAST PINOTS and a FRENCH INTRUDER  May 2006

AGLIANICO : BASILICATA & CAMPANIA'S MAJOR RED WINE  April 2006

NERO D'AVOLA - A TASTE OF SICILIA  March 2006

UNDER THE VINO FINO RADAR ZINFANDELS  January 2006

HOLIDAY WINE TASTING & DINNER  December 2005

BUBBLIES FROM AROUND THE WORLD  November 2005

NORTH COAST PINOT NOIRS  October 2005

STATE OF CONFUSION CABERNETS  September 2005

TIM ZAINER'S SIDEWAYS LOOK AT MERLOTS  August 2005

LOIRE VALLEY CABERNET FRANCS  June 2005 

CALIFORNIA SYRAHS  March 2005

2002 CALIFORNIA CABERNETS  February 2005

VINO FINO HOLIDAY WINE MARATHON  December 2004

CHARDONNAYS OF MODEST PRICE November 2004

SPANISH TEMPRANILLO  October 2004

2002 CENTRAL COAST PINOT NOIRS  September 2004

AUSSIE SHIRAZ-CABERNET BLENDS  August 2004

GEWRZTRAMINERS FROM ALSACE July 2004

2001 SOUTHERN RHNES (7 Chteauneufs & a Vacqueyras)  June 2004

AGLIANICO WINES FROM CAMPANIA & BASILICATA  May 2004

MONTEPULCIANO WINES FROM THE ABRUZZO & MARCHE REGIONS  April 2004

SONOMA ZINFANDELS  February 2004

1997 BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO  January 2004

VINO FINO HOLIDAY BACCHANALIA 2003

2001 CTES du RHNES  September 17, 2003

2000 OREGON PINOT NOIRS  August 20, 2003

WEST COAST SYRAHS  July 16, 2003

2000 Bordeaux  June 18, 2003

2000 CALIFORNIA CABERNETS May 21, 2003

OFF THE BEATEN PATH SYRAHS APRIL 16, 2003

2002 NEW ZEALAND SAUVIGNON BLANCS  March 19, 2003

1999 California CABERNETS  February 19, 2003

VINO FINO HOLIDAY BACCHANALIA December 4, 2002

AUSTRALIAN SHIRAZ  August 21, 2002

CHAMPAGNES & SPARKLERS July 17, 2002

Interesting Paired CHARDONNAYS
May 15, 2002

2001 Southern Hemisphere SAUVIGNON BLANCS   Feb. 20, 2002

1999 ZINFANDELS January 16, 2002

HOLIDAY SEASON BACCHANALIA
December 5, 2001

1999-2000 New PINOT NOIRS November 14, 2001

1999 CALIFORNIA ZINFANDELS October 17, 2001

1998 CALIFORNIA CABERNETS September 19, 2001

1999 LANGUEDOC REDS August 15, 2001

1997 SAUTERNES July 18, 2001

Mostly 1998 NEBBIOLO June 20, 2001

1999 PINOT NOIRS May 16, 2001

1996 SAINT-MILION Tasting April 18, 2001

CARNEROS CHARDONNAYS March 21, 2001

1984-1985 NAPA CABERNETS/John Vignau Memorial Tasting  October 20, 2000

1997 CALIFORNIA CABERNETS   September 20, 2000

1998 CALIFORNIA CHARDONNAYS   August 16, 2000

WINES FROM THE SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE: CLARETS  June 21, 2000

WINES FROM UNDER THE TUSCAN (and Umbrian) SUN   Aprile 19, 2000

1997 BORDEAUX: MEDOC May 17, 2000

 

 

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