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1999 California Cabernet Barrel Tasting Notes


Posted: June 27, 2000

1999 California Cabernet Barrel Tasting Notes
June 27, 2000

Below you'll find tasting notes from 48 1999 California Cabernet Sauvignon wines reviewed as barrel samples by James Laube.

Wines tasted as barrel samples are rated, like bottled wines, on Wine Spectator's 100-point scale, but unlike a bottled wine, which receives a single numerical score, a barrel sample is assigned a score range that reflects the taster's evaluation of the wine's potential for the future, after bottling.

Wine Spectator scores fall into quality categories as follows: 95-100, classic; 90-94, outstanding; 85-89, very good; 80-84, good; 70-79, average; 60-69, below average; 50-59, poor.

For this report, in order to give the most accurate indication possible of the wine's future potential, two new categories have been added: 85-87, very good; 88-90, very good to outstanding.

The tasting notes that follow are listed in order of descending score category. You may also view these wines sorted alphabetically by winery.

Back to James Laube's report


Classic Potential (95-100)

  •    David Arthur   Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Elevation 1147 1999 $NA
    Delicious, with a rich, complex, impeccably balanced core of fruit, with a seamless band of currant, berry, cedar and vanilla-scented oak. --(JL)

  •    Dalla Valle   Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 1999 $NA
    Rich, thick and plush, deeply concentrated, brimming with currant, black cherry, blackberry and plum and spicy, toasty oak notes. --(JL)

  •    Diamond Creek   Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Gravelly Meadow 1999 $NA
    Very rich and concentrated, with tiers of smoky currant, black cherry, blackberry and toasty oak, with a long, intricate aftertaste. --(JL)

  •    Diamond Creek   Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Red Rock Terrace 1999 $NA
    Big, ripe and robust, gushing spicy currant, black cherry and wild berry, finishing with equally big, ripe, rich tannins. --(JL)

  •    Etude   Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Eden Rock Vineyard 1999 $NA
    Absolutely gorgeous fruit and lavish oak; a wonderful match of juicy currant, black cherry and berry framed by mocha and coconut. --(JL)

  •    Harlan Estate   Napa Valley 1999 $NA
    Lavish in every respect, from the ripe, rich, polished currant, plum and black cherry to the supple, well-integrated tannins and the pretty chocolate- and vanilla-scented oak. Should be stunning. --(JL)

  •    Lewis   Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Reserve 1999 $NA
    Open-throttle Cabernet, absolutely ripe, rich and deeply concentrated, with currant, plum and wild berry, turning plush. --(JL)

  •    Shafer   Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap District Hillside Select 1999 $NA
    Ripe, rich, thick and concentrated, with plush currant, black cherry and wild berry, finishing with an Oriental spice edge. --(JL)

  •    Spottswoode   Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 1999 $NA
    Gorgeous flavors; brimming with ripe, intense currant, black cherry and cedar, topped off with seductive mocha- and vanilla-scented oak. --(JL)

  •    Viader   Napa Valley 1999 $NA
    Enormous, brimming with ripe and juicy plum, black cherry, wild berry and currant, with a supple, polished core of cedar and spice. --(JL)

  •    Whitehall Lane   Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Leonardini Vineyard Reserve 1999 $NA
    Dark and thick, oozing plush, superrich currant, cassis and black cherry, with pretty chocolate- and -vanilla-scented toasty oak. --(JL)


    Outstanding Potential (91-94)

  •    S. Anderson   Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap District Richard Chambers Vineyard 1999 $NA
    Deep, rich and complex, with concentrated currant, herb, coffee, toasty oak and tobacco. Lots to admire. --(JL)

  •    Araujo   Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Eisele Vineyard 1999 $NA
    Packs in loads of blackberry, black cherry and currant and then frames it with pretty, cedary, toasty oak. --(JL)

  •    Beaulieu Vineyard   Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Georges de Latour Private Reserve 1999 $NA
    Firm structure and plenty of stuffing here, with cedary currant, wild berry, currant and spice, and firm tannins. --(JL)

  •    Cain   Five Napa Valley 1999 $NA
    Big and rich if a big gangly, with layers of earthy currant, touches of herb and tobacco, a long and intricate finish. --(JL)

  •    Chateau Montelena   Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 1999 $NA
    Rich and elegant, with a focused core of earthy currant, herb and cedary flavors, turning complex. --(JL)

  •    Conn Creek   Anthology Napa Valley 1999 $NA
    Ripe and snappy, with tight floral, blackberry, currant, wild berry and spice. Long and rich. --(JL)

  •    Diamond Creek   Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Volcanic Hill 1999 $NA
    A genuine barrel sample, raw and unpolished. Rich, massive and earthy, very dark and complex, with cherry, currant and cedary notes. --(JL)

  •    Duckhorn   Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Estate Grown 1999 $NA
    Delicious and generous, with its ripe floral flavors, tiers of black cherry, currant, anise, cedar and chocolate. --(JL)

  •    Far Niente   Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 1999 $NA
    Intense and racy, a touch earthy and minerally. It's rich and concentrated, even dense and chewy, a packed wine built for age. --(JL)

  •    Ferrari-Carano   Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma County 1999 $NA
    Rich and intense, brimming with wild berry, mint, herb, spice and black cherry framed by pretty, toasty oak. --(JL)

  •    Flora Springs   Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Hillside Reserve 1999 $NA
    A fruit-driven sample, with lots of ripe cherry, blueberry, black cherry and currant flavors, finishing with mild tannins. --(JL)

  •    Flora Springs   Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Wild Boar Vineyard 1999 $NA
    Wonderful fruit purity, with juicy blueberry, black cherry, currant and plum. Rich, complex aftertaste. --(JL)

  •    Hartwell   Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap District 1999 $NA
    Remarkably seductive, ripe, rich, polished, with tiers of currant, sage and other herbs, turning plush and revealing layers of complexity. --(JL)

  •    The Hess Collection   Cabernet Sauvignon Mount Veeder 1999 $NA
    Big, ripe and concentrated, with earthy currant, wild berry, cherry and cedary notes, filling out and turning thick and plush. --(JL)

  •    Kendall-Jackson   Cabernet Sauvignon California Grand Reserve 1999 $NA
    Firm, ripe and complex, big, potent and concentrated, with currant, berry, cedar and spice, firm tannins and depth. --(JL)

  •    Kenwood   Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma Valley 1999 $NA
    Firm and rich, with pretty beams of cherry, plum and wild berry, turning supple and elegant. --(JL)

  •    Livingston Moffett   Gemstone Vineyard Napa Valley 1999 $NA
    Lean and beefy, an earthier style, with bacon, smoke and currant notes, gaining traction on the finish. --(JL)

  •    Robert Mondavi   Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley To Kalon Vineyard 1999 $NA
    Racy, with an elegant core of spicy currant, herb, tea and tobacco, turning complex and cedary. --(JL)

  •    Nickel & Nickel   Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville Stelling Vineyard 1999 $NA
    Smooth, rich and polished, with plush layers of black cherry, wild berry, red cherry and chocolate; borders on decadent. --(JL)

  •    Joseph Phelps   Insignia Napa Valley 1999 $NA
    Elegant and polished, even at this early stage. Bright, rich, focused cherry, currant, anise, sage and cedary notes are well-proportioned. --(JL)

  •    Pride   Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 1999 $NA
    Lively and exotic presentation of ripe, juicy, complex fruit, with layers of cherry, chocolate, mocha, currant and spice and a long, toasty oak aftertaste. --(JL)

  •    A. Rafanelli   Cabernet Sauvignon Dry Creek Valley 1999 $NA
    Rich and complex, with spicy cherry and wild berry, turning elegant and polished. --(JL)

  •    Ridge   Cabernet Sauvignon Santa Cruz Mountains Monte Bello 1999 $NA
    Big, bold, ripe and intense, rich, with concentrated currant, mineral, cherry and berry flavors, then tobacco and mineral notes on the tightly tannic finish. --(JL)

  •    Rudd Estate   Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 1999 $NA
    Sharply focused, with rich, tight, concentrated flavors of jammy cherry, raspberry, plum and currant, finishing long and complex. --(JL)

  •    Sherwin Family   Cabernet Sauvignon Spring Mountain District 1999 $NA
    Tight, with a firm wall of tannins wrapped around pretty floral and currant flavors. --(JL)

  •    Snowden   Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 1999 $NA
    Ultrarich and massive, with tiers of currant, black cherry, herb, sage and mineral, finishing long and rich. --(JL)

  •    St. Clement   Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 1999 $NA
    Beautifully defined fruit flavors--pure and rich cherry, currant, wild berry and plum, with hints of spice and cedar. --(JL)

  •    St. Francis   Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma County 1999 $NA
    A bit rough-and-tumble, with gritty tannins, but also some pretty, chisled currant, coconut, herb and coffee. Finishes with tannins that hang on. --(JL)

  •    St. Francis   Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma County Kings Ridge 1999 $NA
    Lively, ripe, rich and toasty, with herb, cherry, coffee and currant flavors that are complex and concentrated. --(JL)

  •    Stag's Leap Wine Cellars   Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap District Cask 23 1999 $NA
    Beams in on a tight, supple, focused core of black cherry, currant, herb, tobacco, anise and sage, thick and concentrated. --(JL)

  •    Sterling   Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Reserve 1999 $NA
    Exotic and multidimensional, with ripe floral cherry, currant and berry flavors, pretty vanilla-scented oak notes and a long, rich and intricate aftertaste. --(JL)


    Very Good to Outstanding Potential (88-90)

  •    Cosentino   M. Coz Meritage Napa Valley 1999 $NA
    Grapey, with ripe, intense, generous currant, plum and wild berry; pure fruit without any attempt at showing off oak. --(JL)

  •    Flora Springs   Trilogy Napa Valley 1999 $NA
    Effusively fruity, with lots of cherry, cranberry and plum; seemingly lacks structure and tannin, though it's only a barrel sample. --(JL)

  •    Laurel Glen   Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma Mountain 1999 $NA
    Austere, with a firm, tight band of black cherry, mineral and currant, finishing with fine, focused tannins. --(JL)


    Very Good Potential (85-87)

  •    Anderson's Conn Valley   Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 1999 $NA
    Well-mannered if a bit on the simple side; elegant, with spicy berry, cedar and cherry. --(JL)

  •    Arrowood   Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma County 1999 $NA
    Elegant, with complex earth, beef, currant, plum, cedar and spicy notes, finishing with an herbal edge. --(JL)

  •    Stonestreet   Legacy Alexander Valley 1999 $NA
    Ripe and juicy, with pretty black cherry and plummy notes and supple tannins. --(JL)


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