Sunday, July 17, 2016

Quilceda Creek Robert Craig Affinity Cabernet 1997

Quilceda Creek and Robert Craig Affinity Cabernet Sauvignon 1997

For a family gathering summer dinner on the deck I pulled two 1997 vintage Cabernets - Quilceda Creek and Robert Craig Affinity. We prepared grilled sockeye salmon and filets of beef.

Quilceda Creek Washington Cabernet Sauvignon 1997

I know our cellar is ideal for long term storage and aging when I pull a bottle like this that we've held for close to twenty years and the fill level and cork are perfect. The cork looked liked it was pulled from a brand new bottle to which son Ryan noted this premium label likely uses highest quality corks.

Dark garnet colored, medium bodied. full dark berry and floral bouquet, smooth silky texture, nicely balanced, black berry fruit accented by tones of oak, spice and tobacco leaf with a long smooth soft tannin polished finish.

RM 92 points.

 Robert Craig Affinity Cabernet Sauvignon 1997

We hold over twenty vintages of this wine dating back to the inaugural 1993 vintage. This is one of last bottles of a case of the 1997 vintage we acquired from the winery upon release. We have visited Robert Craig on several of our trips to Napa Valley and Robert has been featured at several of or wine producer dinners and other tasting events.

The brand has been recently taken over by new leadership and one of their moves has been to raise the price point of this legendary label. Robert was always proud of the QPR - Quality Price Ratio he maintained for this blend of fruit from what he called 'three mountains and a valley'. It is now selling for $65 per bottle and its previous price point of $50 has been taken over by a Napa Valley Cabernet. Of course these older vintage bottles were acquired back in the nineties for less than $40.

My last tasting note entry from last fall is below.

While it likely will not improve further with age, it seems to still stand at the apex of its drinking window and shows no sign of diminution whatsoever. This was slow to open and reveal its fruit and needed about of hour to unwind from its tight closed opening.

My previous tasting note back in 2012 cited 'this wine is more expressive than early in life showing lingering fruit and staying power'. According to those notes, this showed even better tonight with more balance and polish than that tasting. At this stage of life, that could be an indication of bottle variation but no so likely since the bottles share the same provenance.

Dark purple garnet colored, medium bodied, forward bright vibrant black berry and black raspberry fruits to tones of black tea and hints of cassis and smoke on a smooth moderate lingering tannin finish.

My previous tasting note from 2012 - Rich medium full bodied. A bit tight, fruit filled with black currant, black berry, raspberry, cassis with a slight bit of astringency, hints of black pepper and smoke with silky tannins on the finish. (82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc). This wine is more expressive than early in life showing lingering fruit and staying power.

RM 91 points.