- 2001 Neal Family Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain Estate – USA, California, Napa Valley, Howell Mountain (5/27/2009)
Tight with cedar and sour blackberries. A bit austere and angular right now but should improve with 2-3 more years in the cellar. By about hour 4 in the decanter, it edges had softened a bit and the wine displayed a smokier character. (88 pts.)
- 1998 Château Pavie – France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru (5/18/2009)
Absolutely wonderful. Creme de cassis, chocolate covered cherries, mint leaf, eucalyptus, and smooth, sweet oak. Drinking very youthful, but “ready.” Wine Searcher shows this wine around the country at $175 – $200. It would be worth it. (96 pts.)
- 2001 Gemstone – USA, California, Napa Valley, Yountville (5/2/2009)
I had forgotten that 18 months ago I had decided to hold this for 3+ years. That shows how tough it can be to make such predictions because this wine is rocking and rolling right now. It is wonderfully balanced, walking the tight rope between lush, extracted fruit while still supported by a smokey, secondary complexity. Kind of the best of both worlds: Mouth coating, but not heavy. Earthy, but not rustic. Extremely long finish with tannins fully integrated.
Gemstone is a list that I allowed myself to drop. When the wines were released, I found them cloying, but if this is how they can be at age 8, I need to rethink my decision to not buy. (95 pts.)
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