We all gathered together for a gala family dinner before son Alec returns to NYC. Linda prepared a beef tenderloin wellington with a corn casserole, twice baked potatoes, broccoli and fresh roles. Ryan and I dug into the cellar for a 'big cab' and came up with a Whitehall Lane, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2003 to close out the year with this ten year old. Anyone that has visited Napa Valley probably has driven past the Whitehall Lane property on Hwy 29 south of St Helena. In all our Napa trips, we've somehow missed stopping there. We'll need to visit Whitehall Lane on an upcoming trip.
Somewhere along the way I acquired a mini-vertical of this wine from the 1999 to 2004 vintages. Normally we'd open the oldest, or the least age-worthy vintage (such as the 1998 vintage that was panned by pundits in the shadow of the blockbuster highly acclaimed '97, but in the end has been drinking very nicely the past few years - especially when compared to the highly touted '97 which seems to be still developing, awaiting the time to reveal its full potential), but we had a duplicate of the '03 so we popped that one.
Whitehall Lane Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2003
I am fighting off a winter cold with flu symptoms so my senses were diminished to adequately taste or fully appreciate this wine. Even in my state of dulled senses there was no mistaking the profile of this wine.
Ryan brought it upstairs and opened the bottle and was surprised to discover a glass stopper under the foil seal (see left). I have to admit in all my years of tasting literally thousands of wines, I don't recall coming across one of these.
At ten years old, this showed no sign of aging diminution and came across a bit forward and adolescent with well balanced bright vibrant fruits.
Dark Ruby Red colored, medium to full bodied, it exhibited aromas and full flavors of black berry and black currant with a layer of alcohol that almost gave it a sense of bourbon, accented by sweet tones of vanilla, hints of anise, sweet mocha and a bit of cherry on a lingering silky moderate tannin finish.
RM 90 points.