Sunday, June 21, 2020

Pahlmeyer Caldwell Vineyard Napa Valley Red Blend 1990

Pahlmeyer Caldwell Vineyard Napa Valley Proprietary Red 1990

For Fathers Day, after a golf outing with my three sons, we had a gala family dinner. Daughter Erin and her family were in Florida. With son Alec in from NYC we pulled from the cellar a birth-year vintage magnum of Pahlmeyer Proprietary Red for the occasion.

In a non-Covid world, we would've been drinking this bottle this week in celebration of Alec and Vivianna's wedding, but that event has been pushed back due to the travel and gathering restrictions in the NYC Tri-state area.

Linda prepared grilled striped sea bass, sea scallops, barbecue ribs with sweet corn, potato salad and wedge salad.

Pahlmeyer Proprietary Red is a classic Napa Valley Bordeaux Blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec, all sourced from the Estate Caldwell Vineyard.

Produced in limited quantities, each variety in the blend is harvested and held separately throughout fermentation and barrel aging. The lots are aged an average of 18 months in French oak Bordeaux barrels.

A successful trial attorney, Jayson partnered with John Caldwell, owner of a 55-acre site in south-east Napa Valley. Together, they began planting French clones of red Bordeaux varieties.

“All I wanted to do was to create my own ‘California Mouton’ – a rich, powerful Napa Valley Bordeaux blend, a wine that would drop wine lovers to their knees,” says Jayson Pahlmeyer.

After years of seeking assistance from viticultural professors at the University of Bordeaux who analyzed the soil samples, exposure, rainfall and temperature data, Jayson and his partner were able to acquire Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec vines and managed to smuggle their “suitcase clones” to the U.S. through Canada.

Planted in 1981, the French cuttings slowly adjusted. In 1986, with the help of Randy Dunn, one of California’s foremost winemakers, the Pahlmeyer Proprietary Red was made and launched.

Helen Turley took over winemaking in 1993 and further improved the quality and consistency of Pahlmeyer wines. Jayson’s daughter Cleo joined the team in 2008.

Today, the winemaker is Bibiana Gonzalez Rave. She received her oenology degree from the University of Bordeaux and has worked at estates in Bordeaux, the Rhone Valley, Santa Barbara County, Sonoma Valley and other locations in addition to Napa Valley. She was named Winemaker of the Year for 2015 by the San Francisco Chronicle.

Pahlmeyer Caldwell Vineyard Napa Valley Proprietary Red Blend 1990
From magnum, the cork and fill level were perfect after thirty years of age, another indicator of the conditions in our cellar for proper aging.

Deep ruby/purple color, medium-full bodied, moderately complex, well-balanced ripe currant and black cherry fruits, aromas of smoke, cassis, tobacco and spicy oak, followed by full tannins and acidity on a lingering finish. At thirty years, I sense the fruits were starting to fall off a slight bit to give way to non-fruit acidic notes of tobacco and smoke.

Repeating notes of a fellow Cellertracker, JIMN, "Probably time to drink up in the normal format, but the Mags should hold well for another few years."

Like Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, I give this 90 points.