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Senior editor James Laube, Wine Spectator's expert on the wines of California, joined the magazine in 1983.
James Laube

A Classic Napa Cabernet that Gained in the Cellar

Portfolio Limited Edition Napa Valley 1999

James Laube
Posted: September 16, 2009

You always hope your cellared wines will improve. Why else hold onto them? The Portfolio Limited Edition 1999, a Cabernet-based red that is a personal project of Robert Mondavi winemaker Geneviève Janssens, lived up to my hopes and expectations. I bought a few bottles when it was released in 2002 and have held them until the other night, when I decided it was time to give one a try.

Wow, what a treat! Dark in color, the California red's loamy earth, currant, black cherry and green olive flavors are rich and well-proportioned. The wine picked up body and depth and showed the kind of substance and concentration that promises it will age well for another decade.

The grapes came from the Hendry Vineyard in west Napa Valley; in subsequent years, Cabernet Franc from Weitz Vineyard in the Oakville subappellation has joined the cuvée. Hendry typically yields grapes of great intensity and structure, which showed in this wine. I gave it 95 points, non-blind.

WineSpectator.com members: Read the original blind-tasting review for Portfolio Limited Edition Napa Valley 1999 (93, $100).

• Plus, get scores and tasting notes for more recently rated Napa Cabernets, along with our quick list of Top Values in California Cabernet.

Marc Robillard
Montreal,Canada —  September 16, 2009 9:46am ET
James; always great to hear that great wines develop as hoped and to have patience rewarded.
Last week I had my first of 3 1999 Insignia's. I've been sitting on these for about five years now. The wine was absolutely gorgeous and to be honest, surpassed my expectations.
Now the question is whether I should hold off on the others for a few years or jump right in!

James Laube
Napa, CA —  September 16, 2009 12:40pm ET
Marc, you're in the driver's seat. I would try another in a year or two and then decide how long to hold onto the third. There are times when it's worth seeing how long and how well a wine will develop and if you're new to cellaring wines, this is the perfect exercise.
Frank Melis
San Francisco, CA —  September 16, 2009 1:05pm ET

I just tasted the following 1999 wines:

Del Dotto Cabernet(going down hill fast),
Dalla Valle Cabenet(stellar),
Dunn Howell Mtn. Cabernet (still plenty of time left),
Paloma Merlot (surprised, but this wine was still drinking very well),
Spottswoode Cabernet (drinking very well),
David Arthur Cabernet 1147 (not much left - very surprised),
Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet (did not show well - tired?),
Opus One (over the hill),
S. Anderson Chambers Cabernet (over the hill - tired), Clark-Claudon Cabernet (still drinking very well) & Kamen Cabernet (I believe this was his first release - oustanding!)

All the wines were properly stored and came from the same cellar, so it was a fair tasting.

Frank Melis
Golden Gate Wine Cellars
San Francisco, CA
James Laube
Napa, CA —  September 16, 2009 1:26pm ET
Thanks for your notes, Frank. My 1999 Cabernet retrospective notes will appear in the Nov. 15 Cabernet issue.
Frank Melis
San Francisco, CA —  July 22, 2011 11:48am ET
We just conducted a blind Cabernet (Proprietary Red) tasting with about 60 people. We asked the group to score first to last and to include what they believe to be the cost of the wine (to get an average price)
Here are the results:

1 tied. Malk 07- 69.99 (Average group price 82.50)
1 tied Inherit the Sheep 07 –54.99 (Avg price 72.00)
3. Redmon 2008 GGWC 64.99 (Average group price 79.50)
4. Dancing Hares ”Mad Hatter 08”– 56.99 (Avg Pr 65.50)
5. Passenger 08 – 74.99 (Average group price 79.00)
6 tied Azur 2007 - 54.99 (Average group price 65.50)
6 tied. Dominus 2007 135.00(Average price 58.50)
6 tied. Phelps Insignia 07 175.00(Avg price 52.50)
9. Caymus Special Select 07 125.00 (Avg price 48.50)
10. Barnett Rattlesnake Hill 07 100.00(Avg price 47.50)
11. Beringer Priv. Reserve 07 100.00 (Avg price 45.00)
12. Opus One 07 135.00 (Average group price 44.50)

Frank Melis
San Francisco, CA

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