What Was The Single Greatest 1970s CA Wine?

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What Was The Single Greatest 1970s CA Wine?

#1 Post by Barry Sunderland » May 14th, 2018, 12:32 pm

The 1974 Heitz 'Martha's'...
What say YOU?
Last edited by Barry Sunderland on May 15th, 2018, 4:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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#2 Post by Greg Harrington » May 14th, 2018, 1:43 pm

1976 Joseph Swan Pinot Noir

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#3 Post by Bill Tex Landreth » May 14th, 2018, 1:45 pm

1973 Stag’s Leap Cab

I have not personally had the wine, but it is what got Napa and California worldwide attention.
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#4 Post by S. Stevenson » May 14th, 2018, 1:50 pm

This one.

Image
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#5 Post by Mike S. » May 14th, 2018, 1:57 pm

Diamond Creek Lake and Volcanic Hill 1978
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#6 Post by Mike Maguire » May 14th, 2018, 2:11 pm

Easy one for me Phelps Eisele Vineyard 1974, drop the mike!

I stand corrected, it was indeed the 75. [swoon.gif]
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#7 Post by Barry Sunderland » May 14th, 2018, 2:12 pm

S. Stevenson wrote:This one.

Image
Hmmm...Cellartracker gave this an '89'. ;)

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#8 Post by PeterH » May 14th, 2018, 2:18 pm

Barry Sunderland wrote:The 1974 Heitz 'Martha's'...
What say YOU?
Great choice, but I never thought that the eucalyptus edge was an improvement in Cabs. I preferred the Mayacamas.
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#9 Post by Mark Golodetz » May 14th, 2018, 2:21 pm

1975 Eisele
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#10 Post by Greg Harrington » May 14th, 2018, 2:29 pm

PeterH wrote:
Barry Sunderland wrote:The 1974 Heitz 'Martha's'...
What say YOU?
Great choice, but I never thought that the eucalyptus edge was an improvement in Cabs. I preferred the Mayacamas.

I thought about the '75 Mayacamas as my top wine. I prefer it to the '74.

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#11 Post by Merrill Lindquist » May 14th, 2018, 3:10 pm

1971 Eiesele, Phelps or Ridge...take your pick, if you can find one.
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#12 Post by c fu » May 14th, 2018, 3:35 pm

74 mayacamas or 78 diamond creek volcanic hill. Both incredible wines
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#13 Post by Gregg Kitzis » May 14th, 2018, 3:51 pm

I believe the ‘74 Eisele was made by Conn Creek and the first Phelps was the 1975.

Both great.

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#14 Post by S. Stevenson » May 14th, 2018, 3:56 pm

Here's my post from another board from 5 years ago(includes pre '70 wines):
Note: These were all tasted between 1975 and 2008. Never tasted the BV PR '51.

1)BV PR 1958: Had several times over the years as it's my wife's birthday year and it was always amazing. Had every decade since the '70s.

2)Heitz MV 1969: Joe's favorite and mine as well. While the '68 and the '70 were bigger wines, this had impeccable balance and a terrific cross between Calif and French winemaking. Last tasted early '00s.

3)Yverdon Cask 88 - 1970: The best wine from a great year. A shame it's little noticed. Tasted 3 times last in the '90s.

4)Inglenook Cask F-6 - 1959: First year for the Cask Series (I believe) and rich and powerful. Tasted once in the early '80s.

5)Ridge Eisele - 1971: Great wine in a so-so year. Prefer it to the '70 MB. Tasted a number of times last mid-2005.

6) Hallcrest 1958: A stunning wine I had in the late '80s. Got it for free because the wine shop owner thought it was to old to drink. Wrong! Tasted once (thanks!) mid-80's.

Never cared a whole lot for the '74s. Had a bunch of early to mid '60s and most were drying out by the early '80s. The wines from the '50s have actually held up better.
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#15 Post by S. Stevenson » May 14th, 2018, 4:04 pm

Merrill Lindquist wrote:1971 Eiesele, Phelps or Ridge...take your pick, if you can find one.
A little info on the Ridge.
1971 Ridge Eisele Vineyard Cabernet

Image

By Ridge Vineyards on May 2, 2009 • ( 2 )

To borrow a phrase from Paul Draper, “We have had several requests for information on the 1971 Ridge Eisele Vineyard Cabernet.” Some strange zeitgeist afoot, to say the least! This has come up recently in e-mails, on the blog, and in the tasting room as well. Anyhow, as with many of these requests about rare back vintages, I like to go directly to the source for some “inside” insight, and again, Paul has very kindly offered some information:

“We have had several requests for information on the 1971 Ridge Eisele Vineyard Cabernet. This was the first commercial bottling of the Eisele, a vineyard now owned by the Araujo family and so named.

By 1970, we had replanted all the vineyard parcels, abandoned during prohibition, on the Monte Bello land we owned at that time. As the vines we planted were not yet mature, the Monte Bello was made entirely from the vines on the land that had been replanted in the 1940’s and the quantities were limited.

We felt that our use of traditional methods (naturally occurring yeast, no processing, no chemical additions except minimal S02) had historically made the finest wines. We wanted to make a wine from the Napa Valley where more technical winemaking was typical in order to see what level of quality we could achieve with our traditional techniques. We looked around and in 1971 Milt Eisele offered us the grapes from his small parcel of vines near Calistoga. At 25° Brix the grapes were riper than anything we had yet harvested in our cool region. I fermented them in small, one ton fermentors with the cap held submerged by a grid. To make sure the wine would be full and intense, I did not press until the biblical “40 days and 40 nights” had passed and the caps had fallen to the bottom of the fermentors. The wine was very structured but with time it integrated fully and has shown beautifully over the years. We will open a bottle this next week to see how it is doing.

Paul”

And that’s the scoop on the 71! And by the way, regarding the conversations around whether there was a ’73 Eisele, I’m wondering if the confusion might have to do with bottling dates and tasting notes? Although the ’71 was the only vintage made, the wine was in fact bottled in 1973, and this is also when Paul wrote the first tasting notes, which are featured on the original label (see below).
https://blog.ridgewine.com/2009/05/02/1 ... -cabernet/
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#16 Post by Tom Lee » May 14th, 2018, 4:35 pm

Only based on Wines I’ve tried...74 Heitz Martha’s and 74 BV Private Reserve.

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#17 Post by Howard Cooper » May 14th, 2018, 4:43 pm

There are thousands of California wines made in the 1980s that I have not tasted, but of the ones I have tasted I will go with 1978 Diamond Creek Volcanic Hill and Gravelly Meadows. I will give honorable mention to 1974 Sterling Cabernet, 1978 Chateau Montelena Sonoma Cabernet and Chateau St. Jean 1978 Belltaire Riesling Individual Dried Bunch Selected Late Harvest (essentially TBA). The sweet wine did not age that well but it was spectacular when young.
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#18 Post by Eric Ifune » May 14th, 2018, 4:52 pm

Anyone try the 1978 Mt Veeder Reserve Bernstein Vineyard? I've heard wonderful things about it and have a bottle.
The Mayacamus was my favorite of the 1974's

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#19 Post by Howard Cooper » May 14th, 2018, 5:00 pm

Eric Ifune wrote:Anyone try the 1978 Mt Veeder Reserve Bernstein Vineyard? I've heard wonderful things about it and have a bottle.
The Mayacamus was my favorite of the 1974's
I have not had that Mt Veeder but I have had the regular 1978 Cabernet a couple of times. The first time I had it the wine was in the early 80s and it was truly horrible. Not just closed or anything but with flavors I perceived at my level of experience at the time as really off. Then, I had it about 10-15 years later (both times from the same friend who bought the wine) and it was really good. Would be interested as to whether the wine has survived over the years.
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#20 Post by dcornutt » May 14th, 2018, 5:04 pm

Barry Sunderland wrote:The 1974 Heitz 'Martha's'...
What say YOU?
This is one of the very best.
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#21 Post by Doug Ackerman » May 14th, 2018, 5:07 pm

Of the wines I've tried...

74 Montelena Sonoma. So frickin' good.
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#22 Post by Dan Kravitz » May 14th, 2018, 5:10 pm

I have never met, much less tasted with Mr. Fu. However, when pondering this question, three wines came to mind:
1974 Mayacamas
1978 Diamond Creek Volcanic Hill*
1970 Inglenook

*I had the pleasure of tasting 1978 Diamond Creek Volcanic Hill, Gravelly Meadow and Red Rock Terrace side by side blind in the early 2000s. Volcanic Hill was preferred, but it was not a slam dunk.

I have had the 1974 Heitz Martha's several times, most recently about five years ago. It is great wine, just not in my mind as great as those listed above. To me, it always paled next to the 1968, which had less eucalyptus character, and which I think I preferred to anything from California in the 1970s that I've tasted.

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#23 Post by Karl K » May 14th, 2018, 5:36 pm

1970 Inglenook CS my WOTY so far FWIW.

Have had many nice CA wines from the 70’s and have many more in my collection
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#24 Post by Mel Knox » May 14th, 2018, 5:59 pm

Yverdon...what a story
The cask 88 was sensational in 1970
Best of the decade? It s in the running
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#25 Post by Anton D » May 14th, 2018, 6:10 pm

Mike S. wrote:Diamond Creek Lake and Volcanic Hill 1978
Yup.
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#26 Post by Glenn L e v i n e » May 14th, 2018, 6:21 pm

Mike S. wrote:Diamond Creek Lake and Volcanic Hill 1978
I have tasted that VH, it was fantastic wine.

Others I have had: 78 Cask 23 and 74 Caymus.
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#27 Post by M. Dildine » May 14th, 2018, 6:42 pm

My father-in-law loved ‘74 Martha’s and bought it by the case ($18 per bottle back then?). I drank a lot of it (my mother-in-law liked it over ice). A great wine.
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#28 Post by saul_cooperstein » May 14th, 2018, 6:47 pm

For me 77 Montelena Napa

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#29 Post by lleichtman » May 14th, 2018, 7:25 pm

78 Montelena Cabernet
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#30 Post by Mark C Johnson » May 14th, 2018, 7:50 pm

78 Spring Mountain?
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#31 Post by Peter Petersen » May 14th, 2018, 8:31 pm

No mention of
‘70 BVGdlT? Although their ‘58 and ‘68 were better
‘78 Ridge, Monte Bello? Unique, strange and haunting wine that is still memorable 20 years after tasting it.
That said I might still vote ‘74 Heitz, MV. At the time of first trying this in the early 80s I didn’t even understand why people walked around with shirts that said “Martha’s Vineyard”!

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#32 Post by Rick Allen » May 14th, 2018, 8:53 pm

1978 Diamond Creek Volcanic Hill though the 1970 BV GdlT is a worthy runner-up.

The biggest revelation was a 1975 Chateau St Jean Select Late Harvest Riesling.

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#33 Post by Mel Knox » May 14th, 2018, 9:25 pm

74 Lytton Springs?
Glad to see Sterling get a shout out
Mondavi reserve 74 and 78
Mayacamas 70...a real mind blower
Also Mayacamas 71,73, 75
Souverain 70 ..and 68
Shafer 78
Clos du val 75
The Zin was great too
Chappellet 75




This was an era when Bordeaux was the shining star and we tried to emulate it. In retrospect we did a great job
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#34 Post by Mel Knox » May 14th, 2018, 9:25 pm

74 Lytton Springs?
Glad to see Sterling get a shout out
Mondavi reserve 74 and 78
Mayacamas 70...a real mind blower
Also Mayacamas 71,73, 75
Souverain 70 ..and 68
Shafer 78
Clos du val 75
The Zin was great too
Chappellet 75




This was an era when Bordeaux was the shining star and we tried to emulate it. In retrospect we did a great job
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#35 Post by Paul H Galli » May 14th, 2018, 9:35 pm

1971 Ridge York Creek Petite Sirah.
And for me, it's not even close...

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#36 Post by Gerry Morrisey » May 14th, 2018, 10:54 pm

From what I've enjoyed, 73' Mayacamas, 73' and 74' Sterling Reserve.

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#37 Post by Jayson Cohen » May 14th, 2018, 10:58 pm

74, 75, or 77 Mayacamas. Never had 70 or 73.

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#38 Post by PeterH » May 14th, 2018, 11:10 pm

Greg Harrington wrote:
PeterH wrote:
Barry Sunderland wrote:The 1974 Heitz 'Martha's'...
What say YOU?
Great choice, but I never thought that the eucalyptus edge was an improvement in Cabs. I preferred the Mayacamas.

I thought about the '75 Mayacamas as my top wine. I prefer it to the '74.
If I were offered a choice for drinking today, I'd pick the '75, but it sure took a long time to come around.
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#39 Post by Karl K » May 15th, 2018, 4:02 am

Mel I agree the 68 Souverain is amazing - had two bottles in recent years including one with some Napa winemakers.

Me I am still tasting so don’t have a final answer yet
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#40 Post by Mark Golodetz » May 15th, 2018, 4:20 am

A few thoughts. In the last five years, I have been lucky enough to have attended two Ridge verticals, both with Paul Draper. On both occasions, we served the1971 Eisele, and both times it finished in the middle, a much riper, plummier expression of Ridge. The 1971 Monte Bello was I think was preferred by everybody, a very classic wine. As one would expect given the wines, there were plenty of great wines, my own preference going to the 1968, but the 1974 and 1978 ran it close

The original poster asked about Cabernets. Some of the most exciting wines there were not Cabernet, and were in the same quality band as the cabs notably a 1973 Geyserville Zinfandel and a 1974 Petit Syrah.
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#41 Post by Henry Kiichli » May 15th, 2018, 4:32 am

1974 Monte Bello

Best wine I've ever had.
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#42 Post by Howard Cooper » May 15th, 2018, 6:41 am

Mel Knox wrote:74 Lytton Springs?
Glad to see Sterling get a shout out
Mondavi reserve 74 and 78
Mayacamas 70...a real mind blower
Also Mayacamas 71,73, 75
Souverain 70 ..and 68
Shafer 78
Clos du val 75
The Zin was great too
Chappellet 75




This was an era when Bordeaux was the shining star and we tried to emulate it. In retrospect we did a great job
Had the 75 Chappellet a couple of times in the early to mid 1980s. Loved the wine. Would have loved to have drunk the wine at maturity.

I don't think these wines emulated Bordeaux, but I will say whatever you were doing at the time, go back and do it again.
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#43 Post by Howard Cooper » May 15th, 2018, 6:43 am

Peter Petersen wrote:No mention of
‘70 BVGdlT? Although their ‘58 and ‘68 were better
‘78 Ridge, Monte Bello? Unique, strange and haunting wine that is still memorable 20 years after tasting it.
That said I might still vote ‘74 Heitz, MV. At the time of first trying this in the early 80s I didn’t even understand why people walked around with shirts that said “Martha’s Vineyard”!
The 1970 BV Gdlt was great and I liked the 1973, 1974, 1976 and 1978 as well.
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#44 Post by Anton D » May 15th, 2018, 7:16 am

Dang, I forgot a legendary near perfect wine, 1972 Sutter Home zin.

We killed a 6 liter bottle for a wedding party a few years ago and it was unspeakably great.

Off to Wine Searcher I go!
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#45 Post by Richard Albert » May 15th, 2018, 9:29 am

My favs have been mentioned multiple times:
1974 Martha's
1974 Mayacamas
1974 Conn Creek Eisele
1975 Phelps Eisele
1978 DCVH

Still have the empty Conn Creek due to the stun factor from a tasting 30+ years ago.

Anton, we had 72 Sutter Home Zin in inventory for years, at least through our 1990 catalog. It was not an easy sell as a Zin from 1972 which was a damp cool year--weakest vintage of the decade. Glad to know and am surprised it was a winner.
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#46 Post by Merrill Lindquist » May 15th, 2018, 9:38 am

Karl K wrote:Mel I agree the 68 Souverain is amazing - had two bottles in recent years includinge with some Napa winemakers.
Me I am still tasting so don’t have a final answer yet
I have a 1968 Souverain here in my Library. If anyone wants set a date to share, email me.
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#47 Post by Robert.A.Jr. » May 15th, 2018, 9:53 am

Last time I had a 68 BV PR, it was singing, even held its own with a Petrus, though admittedly the Petrus was another level. Both excellent.

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#48 Post by Greg Harter » May 15th, 2018, 10:11 am

1974 Montelena Napa
1978 Montelena Estate
Both still drinking really well today.

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#49 Post by Anton D » May 15th, 2018, 10:16 am

Richard Albert wrote:My favs have been mentioned multiple times:
1974 Martha's
1974 Mayacamas
1974 Conn Creek Eisele
1975 Phelps Eisele
1978 DCVH

Still have the empty Conn Creek due to the stun factor from a tasting 30+ years ago.

Anton, we had 72 Sutter Home Zin in inventory for years, at least through our 1990 catalog. It was not an easy sell as a Zin from 1972 which was a damp cool year--weakest vintage of the decade. Glad to know and am surprised it was a winner.
I am glad we've 'met' here, I need to learn more about your company! [cheers.gif]
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What's Was The Single Greatest 1970s CA Wine?

#50 Post by Mel Knox » May 15th, 2018, 11:05 am

The early Sutter Home Zinfandels from Amador county were quite a revelation as the area was basically unknown for winemaking. We can give D Corti some credit here. These wines had wonderful fruit early on. Many thought they would be like some wines from Rhone...great early, great late but with a boring middle period and that seems to be what happened.
Shout outs should also be given to Mt Eden Pinot Noir..72, 73 and 74 all wonderful in their own ways, along with Chalone, a winery that blew the doors off with some its chardonnays and pinots.
Ditto 76 Sanford and Benedict Pinot.

I think of Bob Travers often. He really packed a lot of fruit and tannin into his wines and they survived gloriously. How did an ex stockbroker do this?? How did he have the courage to make such tannic wines?? I remember asking him if I would live long enough to enjoy the 70 and he made a crack about diet and exercise.

Well, I went to the gym for many years, drank the 70 with some friends around 2005 and stopped going to the gym. Should have bought more.
ITB

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