’86’ed on Cabs

I attended a tasting that consisted of eight ’86 California cabernets that were poured blind. Okay, there was one Bordeaux ringer in there and an ’86 Oregon Pinot. Tell ya’ what folks, based on this group, further ageability is a mixed bag.

Wine one had a somewhat light nose with berries, herbs, and a touch of cedar. The palate showed a mature red with moderate tannins that was very drinkable. It came in third on my card and turned out to be the ’86 Cain Five.

Wine two had some definite stuffing. Plenty of herbs and eaucalyptus on the nose along with a dose of berry fruit. Elegant fruit showed on the palate with a dash of mint. Over time, the fruit came even more to the forefront. This HAS to be the ’86 Phelps Eisele. Wrong, it was the ’86 Spottswoode. Great juice and I don’t even like Spottswoode. Second on my card.

Wine three seemed to have met with an early demise, most likely due to too much time in a dry sauna. Vanilla on the nose with a hint of decay. In the background there was a hopeless hint of fruit, crying out “I’m not dead yet!” Alas, it might as well have been. Austere, dry fruit on the palate. This miserable soul was the ’86 Flora Springs “Trilogy”. Interestingly enough, it came in fifth and not last on my sheet. That honor was left for the next wine.

Wine four had a washed out color, brown rim and an aroma and nose of old, rotting strawberries. Care to guess? Yes, it was the Pinot in the group, an ’86 Eyrie Vineyard from Oregon.

The fifth entrant in the flight had berries and cedar on the nose but also showed an odd rubbery, green edge. Good fruit on the palate in an elegant style with a herbaceous edge. The finish, however, was dry and tannic. Sixth place on my sheet, it was the ’86 Forman.

Wine the sixth was something altogether different. Aromas of fruit, roasted nuts, herbs, coffee, pencil lead, yata yata yata, came wafting from the glass. Round, ripe fruit on the palate with cigar box and a dash of brett sitting cheering on the sidelines. A big, classic wine. Gee, ya’ think maybe this was the bordeaux? Yup, and a damned good one at that, ’82 Mouton. Needless to say, I had it in first place and it easily won the tasting. Kind of unfair actually.

Wine seven tried to hang but it just wasn’t possible. Candied strawberries/cherries, vanilla and herbs comprised the nose. Light fruit in the mouth with a dry finish. This ended up being an ’86 Mondavi “Napa”. My number four wine.

The last wine in the group didn’t do too much to bolster the reputation of the vintage. Musty, mature fruit on the nose with noticeable alcohol and Worcestershire sauce. Some dried out fruit made a feeble effort to show up on the palate. This puppy was WAY over the hill. It turned out to be an ’86 ZD. Sixth place for me.

These wines had supposedly all been stored properly. If you’ve got ’86 California cabs, you might want to see how they’re doing.

JD (8/99)