A Lovely Red on Valentine’s Weekend

Inglenook Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Limited Cask 1978
Thomas Matthews
Posted: February 26, 2010

There’s something about Valentine’s Day that encourages people to bring the best out of their cellar. I wonder if Cupid and Bacchus are related …

Sara and I were invited to a dinner party over Valentine’s weekend by Bruce Schneider and his wife, Christiane Baker. They own Schneider Vineyards in Long Island, but Bruce largely avoided his own wines to pull an eclectic and intriguing series of bottles from his cellar.

The highlight for me came with the cheese course: Inglenook’s 1978 Limited Cask Cabernet. It was fully mature, yet still lively. The bouquet was filled with lovely spice cake, tobacco and fig; the texture was round and smooth, offering raisin, chocolate and light herbaceous notes and a warm, long finish. I rated it 93 points, non-blind.

The 1970s were not a high point in the long history of Inglenook, once one of California’s leading names, but great vineyards and an excellent vintage can trump even corporate neglect to produce a fine wine. It’s hard to say exactly what went into this cuvée, as labeling was less specific back then. Bruce found the wine in a Long Island wine shop in 1997, and paid $29 a bottle for half a case. This was the last bottle, and he said they all had shown the same fine character. We all told stories about 1978, and gave thanks that we all wound up around the same table 32 years later to enjoy the fruits of its harvest.

WineSpectator.com members: Read reviews for Inglenook wines.

• Plus, get scores and tasting notes for recently rated California Cabernet.

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