Sunday, June 19, 2022

Dad's Day Father Son Tasting Birthyear Wines

Dad's Day Father Son Tasting Birth-year Wines 

On the eve of Father's Day, the whole family gathered for a family group photo and individual family photos so I pulled from the cellar birth-year wines for each of my three sons. 

For eldest son Ryan's 1982 birth-year, at forty years, there are very few bottles remaining as only the most ageworthy wines would last this long. The same, to a slightly less degree for son Sean's 1985 birth-year vintage wines. Youngest son Alec's 1990 birth-year vintage on the other hand was such a blockbuster, and, eight years less time elapsed, there remains numerous ageworthy selections with time left in their aging window (s). 

I talk in detail about the blockbuster 1990 vintage in this blogpost.

The 1982 vintage was also a highly rated vintage, considered the 'vintage of the century' for Bordeaux wines at the time, following a drought of notable vintages and a series of lackluster vintages dating back to the the 1970, sans the 1978. The best top producers' labels remain in their the safe drinking window, especially those in larger format bottles which provide for longer aging of the wines.  

I found this 1982 Bordeaux in a small bottle, hence it was time to drink, and likely past its drinking window, which it was. The 1985 Napa was surprisingly intact and still in its drinking window. We did not get to the 1990 and will save it for another day. 

Château Duhart-Milon-Rothschild Pauillac Bordeaux 1982

This is another label we collect and hold many vintages of dating back to this release. We've written often in these pages about tasting vintage releases of this label

From a half bottle that I had put into the wine cooler near the kitchen and forgotten about, otherwise we would've tried this bottle a long time ago. The fill level was high shoulder, the cork was fully saturated and soft. Ryan was able to extract the cork 80% until the final portion separated. He was able to extract that remaining portion intact with the ahso two pronged cork puller. 

Note the price tag from original purchase showing $12.95, reduced from $14.95, from back in the mid-eighties. Current sale price for this label in standard format is $219 (K&L).

The color was dark garnet colored, just beginning to take on a rust hue, medium bodied with a slight amount of the backbone structure remaining, the fruit was gone leaving only a hint of what it might have been, with damp earth, cedar, pencil shavings and a bit of funky wet wood remaining. 

This was barely, but only slightly drinkable except for the adventure of trying an aged vintage wine, take that into account for this small format bottle and its provenance, perhaps. 

A standard size bottle and a large format would still be holding on, reaching the end of the drinking window as noted by two fellow CT'ers recently wrote about this vintage release wine:

"Another very nice bottle of this wine; certainly fully mature, but holding up well. The nose offered some dried plum and blackberry, mint, bell pepper, tobacco, damp earth. The palate has resolved tannins, still a bit of acidity, good balance and is overall tasty. I don't really see any upside here, but it should hold for a while yet,' ( wrote on 5/31/2022).

"Beautiful, luxurious and mature bouquet with earth, autumn forest and mushroom impressions. On the palate earth and autumn forest as well, beautiful acidity and a great length. Complex and luxurious wine,' (o I follow), wrote on 5/8/2022).

Robert Parker's Wine Advocate gave this 94 points back in 2009 and said it was "close to full maturity at that time - a blockbuster was a sleeper of the vintage long before the Rothschilds invested so heavily in modernizing this estate as well as began making a stricter selection". Stephen Tanzer gave it 90 points, while Jancis Robinson gave it 15.5 of 20. K&L notes Neal Martin's Wine Journal gave it 91 points.

Freemark Abbey Bosché Vineyard Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1985

For son Sean's birth-year, we pulled this 1985 Napa Cabernet. We know this label well having had more than a dozen vintages over the years. 

Ever since the principles of Freemark Abbey entered into a handshake deal with vineyard owner John Bosché, a San Francisco attorney, back in 1970, Freemark Abbey have been crafting a few hundred cases of Cabernet Sauvignon from this legendary vineyard. 

Located in the heart of the Rutherford Bench, the 21-acre vineyard Bosché Vineyard has been cited as one of the top ten vineyards in America. WineBid writes, This predominantly dry-farmed Cabernet Bosché continues year after year to produce one of the most distinctive wines in Rutherford, and remains one of our most sought-after releases. 

Freemark Abbey Bosché Vineyard Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon was one of Napa Valley's first vineyard-designated wines.

We've collected this bottle dating back to this release and hold nearly a dozen vintage releases up to near recent years. The current release price for this label is now $180 per bottle for the 2018 at Binny's, Chicagoland Beverage Depot superstore.   

Wine buddy, Bill and Beth, and Linda and I have visited the Freemark Abbey Napa Valley winery together on numerous visits, and acquired bottles from the library collection there for special occasions. 
In 2009 we toured the winery estate library and acquired 1974 and 1978 anniversary vintage labels for a special anniversary celebration dinner that night across the road at the CIA (Culinary Institute of America), Greystoke Mansion.  

We then opened a bottle of this label almost exactly a year ago on 6/14/2021. Tonight's tasting and rating of this wine was consistent with that last opening when I wrote: "While initially musty and funky, this quickly opened to reveal its true native character and tasting profile. Dark garnet colored, medium full bodied, complex but nicely integrated black berry and black cherry fruits were highlighted with notes of spicy cinnamon and clove with tones of cedar, cigar box, and dark mocha turning to long supple tannin laced tongue coating finish."

RM 90 points.

Again as before, tonight, the label, foil and importantly, the cork and fill level were all ideal, best to be expected in a 37 year old wine, the fill level was bottom of the neck, as shown. 

Still holding on, the immediate indication of its stability and drinkability was the dark blackish garnet color, medium full bodied, firm and tight, complex, the remaining black berry fruits were accented by predominant cigar notes with some cedar, spice and earth notes on the focused finish. 

RM 90 points. 

This release was awarded 90 points by Wine Spectator who wrote a consistent review in-line with our experience tonight, "Lean, tight and concentrated with firm black cherry, plum, currant, earth and cedar flavors that are intense and lively with a narrow, focused finish. Plenty of flavor on the aftertaste."

Earlier, four years ago, I opened a bottle of this label, I wrote, "Incredible, amazing life left in this 33 year old, showing little sign of diminution, even at this age! Dark purplish garnet colored, medium full bodied, rich concentrated complex black berry and black cherry fruits with a subdued layer of soft cedar/camphor with cigar box and moderate acidity on the moderate tannin lingering finish."

Showing some modicum of restraint, we did not open the LaJota 1990 Howell Mountain Napa Cabernet Sauvignon. It likely has several years of life left and we'll look forward to opening it and sharing our experience at some time in the future.