Sunday, February 2, 2020

Duo 1997 Vintage Napa Cabs

Duo of 1997 Vintage Napa Cabs - Pride and Heitz Highlight Bar-be-cue Dinner

Invited over to son Ryan's for Saturday night bar-be-cue he was opening a '97 Napa cab so I pulled one from the cellar for a horizontal tasting of the legendary vintage.

Ryan had open and was tasting this Heitz cab when we arrived.

Heitz Cellars Bella Oaks Vineyard Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1997

Ryan tasted and acquired this single vineyard designated vintage release from the Heitz library collection at the estate during a trip to Napa. 

This was garnet colored, medium balanced, nice floral notes with black berry fruits accent by notes of tea and anise, spice and hint of cedar on a slightly austere finish that WS James Laube desribed as a bit of heat on the finish.

RM 89

This was good and enjoyable, ....  and then we opened the Pride which took over in every respect!

Pride Mountain Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1997

We tasted and acquired this wine during our Napa Valley Wine Experience in 1999 when we visited the Pride estate high atop Spring Mountain. My Wine Journal records show this is the eighth bottle consumed from a case we would've acquired. We still hold a mixed case of a half dozen vintages of  this label from this era. The 1997 vintage was highly praised but it has been lackluster for many years. This was the best tasting bottle we have experienced from this vintage which makes me wonder if it has taken twenty years for this big, tightly wound, structured Napa Cab to finally start to open and reveal its native character and potential?!?

Reading the historic reviews of this release lead me to think many drank this wine too early. This was one of the Wine Spectator Top 100 for the year 2000.

This was rated 94 points by Wine Spectator, 93 points by Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar, 91-93 points by Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 92 points by Wine Enthusiast and 91 points by Connoisseurs Guide. 

The Connoisseurs Guide review in 2012 sums up our experience with with vintage when they wrote, "We confess to mixed feelings here for, while the wine leads with a lovely nose of deep, impressively concentrated fruit, it proves to be surprisingly tight and still bound up by toughening tannins once in the mouth. It demands further patience, and it needs a good many more years in the cellar, but its extracted fruit encourages hopes that polish will come some. The combination of its mountain-top fruit and an exceptional vintage have here produced a wine with the potential for unusual longevity." 

Wine Spectator (94 points ) said it was "dark and intense, with a solid, plush core of ripe, rich currant, black cherry, blackberry, .... jam-packed with flavors, an immense wine but beautifully balanced, big yet gentle."

This was as good as I remember from this label and from this vintage ... big, bold, forward, polished ... Bright garnet/dark purple colored, full bodied, rich concentrated, extracted but nicely balanced black fruits with notes of currants, mocha, oak, hints of anise on a long full tongue coating sweet smooth tannin laced finish.

RM 93 points.