Thursday, June 07, 2007

A classic Napa Cabernet: the 1999 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon from Clos du Val

I remember the first time I tasted a Cabernet Sauvignon from Clos du Val. It was in the early 90s, our first trip to the Napa Valley, although I don't remember why we stopped at the winery. Maybe we had heard that it was a good place to visit, maybe we just liked the French sounding name. Anyway, we really liked the wines, which pleased the tasting room staff. They proudly told us that the Cabernet Sauvignon was made in a true Bordeaux style as the winemaker and winery co-founder was French. Obviously, Bernard Portet's winemaking style must have pleased more than a couple of European palate: his 1972 vintage (and first vintage) was selected for the 1976 Paris Tasting, won first place during the 1986 rematch, and fifth place in 2006, beating the four Bordeaux wines.

According to the winery's cellar notes, the 1999 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is a blend of 92% Cabernet Sauvignon and 8% Cabernet Franc. The alcohol level is a reasonable 13.5% (compared with 14.1% for the 2002 vintage) maybe thanks to a long and cool growing season. The wine drinks very well now but it could be kept in the cellar for several more years. Showing a dense purple color, it displays layered aromas of cassis, blackberry, and mocha. The palate has fine-grained tannins nicely balanced by a lively acidity. The finish is long and slightly bitter. I told you: a truly classic Napa Cabernet.

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