Wines > Vintages 1982–1996

Christie Dufault

Christie Dufault, Bay Area sommelier and wine educator, decants the Estate Cabernet in the Spottswoode winery.

Notes from October 2008 Tasting (unless otherwise noted)

1982 Drink Showing its age. Port, light cherry, dried tangerine, salted nuts, sesame and soy, meat stew, cigar box, cloves. Spiced wine, cognac-like profile. Delicate, with dry, dusty tannins. Some lingering fullness on the palate. Has aged beautifully over many years but is a bit faded at this showing.

1983 Drink Resilient color. Complex and heady, yet soft. Cherry candy, sea salt, bouillon, dried rosemary, cheese puffs, stewed tomatoes, and wet stones. Retains a touch of the savory, but somewhat dried and angular. Pair with cheese.

1984 Drink Pretty cherry color. Subdued, with scents of leaves, wood smoke, cherry cola, hay, cheese rind, and sour cream. Light and lean, though well-integrated with nice, long texture. A complete wine and a fine example of an older Cabernet.

1985 Drink Sherry, soy, mushroom, meat and barbeque aromas. Savory and almost salty, and quite aged. However, some softness and prettiness remain, and we felt this vintage could be enjoyed with a softer cheese that would not overwhelm its earthier characters.

1986 Drink Pretty and fruity. Plummy, jammy aromas interlaced with mint, licorice, clove, cola, brush, and brambles. Vibrant, long texture, well-integrated and seamless. Complete from start to finish. Perfectly answers the question “Why age a Cabernet?”

1987 Drink Lively, youthful and rich. Baked spices, peppermint, nutmeg, marmalade, tomato paste, smoke, rose petal, tea, and a whisp of pineapple. The entry is supple, the wine is well-structured with a substantial fruit core. Dense, graceful, delicious.

1988 Drink Mature, robust and somewhat earthy. Dried bay and tea leaves, leather, menthol, smoke, forest floor, minerals, but also some cloves and spice, candied apple, and brown sugar. Rolling, dark flavors. Nice balance. Good follow-through to the warm, attractive palate. We decided this would be a great match with Peking duck.

1989 Drink Showing more age this year than last. Port, damp tobacco, tomato, orange, dried fig, cola, sage, sandalwood, bouillon. Nice entry; finishes with drier tannins. Deserves to be paired with a delicious cheese.

1990 Drink Sea salt, mineral powder, ash, teriyaki, stew, olive, cedar and cigar box offset by crushed currant and pomegranate, meringue, lemon cheesecake, chocolate dust, and cinnamon. On the earthy side, but nice, with decent structure and enveloping tannins. Even a hint of juiciness. Showed nicely.

1991 Drink A delicious medley of aromas and flavors. Asian spice, crushed raspberries, rose petals, and a wonderful peach note swirled with mocha, black pepper, ash, and cedar. Warm, with great balance and good structure. Slightly drying, yet attractive tannins. Has held up admirably.

1992 Drink Beautiful color. Savory, brawny, mouth filling. A ripe fruit core enhanced by scents of mocha, marshmallow, graham cracker, clove, pepper, soy, brine, tobacco, and forest floor. Firm tannins and structure, good concentration. Showed very well.

1993 Drink (Notes from November 2009 Tasting) Showing its age today. A sweet entry, with some dusty, evolved ripe fruit—pretty on the palate. Soy overtones, with a medley of earth, tobacco, beef bouillon, graphite, salt, five-spice, vanilla bean, cheese rind, and walnut underneath. Tannins are fully evolved. Jon Bonné commented, “This is where an old claret goes.” Made Beth think of “an old English manor library with leather furniture.” Perhaps best enjoyed in such a room, with a lovely cheese pairing.

1994 Drink (Notes from November 2010 Tasting) Pretty and soft, displaying appealing notes of old leather, dried spices, eucalyptus, sweet cedar, wet leaves, truffles, lanolin, bread pudding, and cinnamon. Not deep or power driven, with a lighter, more delicate texture, yet expressive on the palate—long and smooth. Tannins are mature and a bit dusty. “Pair with delicate fare, no heavier than duck,” suggests Andrea. Extremely attractive.

1995 Drink (Notes from November 2011 Tasting) Showing its age—subtle, somewhat delicate, and a bit reticent, but possesses warmth, dimension and attractive characters: dried rose, anise, cherry, tobacco, soy, a hint of tar and ash, Asian five-spice, cheese-rind, orange zest, sage, and sandalwood. Keith dubbed this wine an elegant, old knightly gentleman. Quintessential aged Spottswoode. There was some debate about whether to drink or hold this vintage—some of us felt the old gentleman was perhaps taking a nap and would be refreshed upon awakening, but overall we would recommend enjoying now.

1996 Drink (Notes from November 2012 Tasting) Dark ruby with a garnet rim. Lovely secondary characters, Bordeaux-like complexity and mystery. Aromas of wet leaves, cedar, cola, rum-raisin, licorice, earth, sweet tobacco, and pine overlay smoky plum and blueberry. Drier fruit and tannins on the palate, with a nice acid lift. The wine is at a perfect state of drinkability—Gillian thought it would be wonderful with roasted chicken with fresh herbs—something simple—to showcase its subtleties and elegance.

Vintages 1997-2010
Christie Dufault

Christie Dufault, Bay Area sommelier and wine educator, decants the Estate Cabernet in the Spottswoode winery.

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