I’m not one to age California Cabernets a long time. I’ve learned over time that I like them best around the eight-year mark, while the fruit is still fresh but the edges have smoothed out. Sometimes they survive my cellar longer; I have a few birth-year wines set aside for my two children.
Earlier this month, my eldest treated my wife and I to a romantic dinner for two at the restaurant where she works, Stark’s Steakhouse in Santa Rosa, Calif. It was an evening of time passages. We were celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary, and our daughter had just turned 20. To complete the occasion, I pulled a 1999 (my son’s birth year) from the cellar, a Chimney Rock Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap District Reserve.
The wine was a knockout: complex and layered with rich black currant fruit, notes of smoke and cedar and polished tannins. It brought out the best in the big bone-in rib eye we ordered. I rated it 92 points, non-blind.
WineSpectator.com members: Read the original blind-tasting review, and the retrospective tasting note, for Chimney Rock Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap District Reserve 1999 (92, $90 on release).
• Plus, get scores and tasting notes for more recently rated California Cabernets.