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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 Checkered Cabernet That Made a Brilliant Comeback

David Arthur Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Elevation 1147 1997

James Laube
Posted: June 12, 2009

The 1997 David Arthur Cabernet Elevation 1147 showed brilliantly early in its life, earning a 99-point rating in my blind tastings on its release in 2000. It was so good, I bought a case at the time. But since then, the wine has been a major disappointment to me. The past few times I've tried it, the wine had a terribly earthy, bretty character, making it undrinkable. I was confounded as to why. It was so bad that I wouldn't even give a bottle away!

Since I've been drinking down my cellar, I decided to give it one more try, and wow, it was back! The wine offered wonderful aromas and was trim, rich and focused, with complex currant, touches of herb and cedar, ending with a distinctive chalky, minerally edge. The tannins gave it nice traction on the finish. It drank beautifully; nothing like its bad moments. I scored it 97 points, non-blind.

I asked the winery's owner, David Long, about the vintage, but he said he had lost his last case when he moved to a new house and hadn't tried the wine in years. I can only guess that at some point the bottles that were off suffered from too much heat or improper cellar temperatures. Very confounding, but occasionally this happens with wine. It's only when you have enough bottles of a wine to taste it over time that irregularities might be discovered.

WineSpectator.com members: Read the original blind-tasting review for David Arthur Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Elevation 1147 1997 (99, $75 on release).

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

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