TN: Seven wines from 1978 (CA and WA), and a few others...

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Brandon R
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TN: Seven wines from 1978 (CA and WA), and a few others...

#1 Post by Brandon R » February 11th, 2020, 2:09 pm

SEVEN WINES FROM 1978 (CA AND WA), AND A FEW OTHERS... - (2/8/2020)

I fully intended to do birth year wines in the year of my 40th but, due to a combination of things, just didn't get around to it. So, instead, we had a bunch of family over for good food (homemade Beef Wellington, mushroom farro, a lot of veggies...) and enjoying each other. The key: kids were all together with two sitters at my cousin's house. Ahhh...ADULT conversation! The wines all showed spectacularly well, save the Zinfandel.

Warm-Up Wine A nice magnum with Dungeness crab as guests showed up...
  • 2004 Domaine Billaud-Simon Chablis 1er Cru Montée de Tonnerre - France, Burgundy, Chablis, Chablis 1er Cru
    Served from magnum. Definitely no premox here! This was so young still and hand't developed much in the way of aged complexity, amazingly. Lemon pith, minerals, some peach skin, all with great concentration, but on a light frame...delicious with dungeness crab. (92 pts.)
The 1978s
  • 1978 Chateau Ste. Michelle Merlot - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley
    Slight bricking at the edges. Not decanted. Great nose...surprised this doesn't smell dead. Quite the contrary: ripe cherry, coffee grounds, slight raspberry. I am amazed at how good this wine still is. Such vibrant fruit. (91 pts.)
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  • 1978 Chateau Ste. Michelle Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Cold Creek Vineyard - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley
    Pretty heavily bricked. Slightly subdued nose, but still showed textbook Cabernet character with dried currant, herb, and lots of earth (rosemary?). This started a tad bit prune-like, but that resolved quickly with air. Fun, tasty wine. (90 pts.)
    Image
  • 1978 Louis M. Martini Zinfandel Special Selection - USA, California
    Over the hill. Prune and stewed fruit with notes of caramel. I had low expectations, so no biggie. I tasted several times over 4+ hours.
    Image
  • 1978 Matanzas Creek Winery Cabernet Sauvignon - USA, California, Sonoma County
    WOTN. Saturated cork, but it came out in one piece. Surprisingly dark appearance. Soaring nose of dark cherry, tack room, humidor, spicy plum skin, currant. I was floored at how much great fruit and life this had. Delicious, contemplative, and a real head-turner. What a wine. (95 pts.)
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  • 1978 Grand Cru Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Collector's Series Garden Creek Ranch - USA, California, Sonoma County, Alexander Valley
    #2 WOTN. This was just great. Nearly fully saturated cork. Slight bricking. Great acidity underneath the ample pie cherry, wet leather and slight plum notes. Excellent wine. (93 pts.)
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  • 1978 Clos du Bois Cabernet Sauvignon Briarcrest - USA, California, Sonoma County, Alexander Valley
    Cork was nearly perfect. Not decanted. Appearance was quite watery toward the edges, but not very bricked. Perhaps it was my eyes influencing my taste buds, but I don't think so, as this was more dilute than the other wines at the tasting. Simple cherry fruit, slight earth and a moderate finish. Tasty, but it was overshadowed in the lineup. (85 pts.)
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  • 1978 Kenwood Cabernet Sauvignon - USA, California, Sonoma County
    Good cork. Thinning color at the edges. Red licorice, cherry, chickory(?) and damp earth. Starting its downhill slide. Drink up. Enjoyable, but not outstanding. (86 pts.)
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A Late Addition and a Sticky
  • 2007 Betz Family Cabernet Sauvignon Père de Famille - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley
    This is finally starting to enter its peak drinking window. Not decanted, served in Schott Zweisel Tritan stems. This came after a flight of 1978 Cabs, so it definitely stood out with its pronounced fruit. Black fruit, spice, licorice...still pretty youthful, but not so tightly clenched that one can't enjoy it. Drink or hold for 10+. (94 pts.)
  • 2006 Château Raymond-Lafon - France, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Sauternes
    Served from large Bordeaux-style stems. Lighter honey color. The nose didn't give up a whole lot. On the palate, though, this is sweet and tasty. Apricot, marzipan(?), pineapple, slight spice. Very nice. (89 pts.)
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This was a lot of fun and i was so pleased with how nicely all of the wines showed. I was particularly happy with the two wines from Washington. For those of us born in Central Washington, how funny to see, "Benton County" printed proudly on the front label of the Ste. Michelle Cab! I will also tout the Durand...it saved my bacon and worked SO well for all of these corks. Expensive? Yes. Worth it? Yes!
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Re: TN: Seven wines from 1978 (CA and WA), and a few others...

#2 Post by Doug Schulman » February 11th, 2020, 2:58 pm

Crazy about the ‘78 CSM Merlot! I haven’t had any WA wines that old, but plenty of CA wines from the ‘50s-80s that were not top dollar have aged remarkably well. This sounds like such an interesting lineup.

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Re: TN: Seven wines from 1978 (CA and WA), and a few others...

#3 Post by Kris Patten » February 11th, 2020, 3:41 pm

Cool, not surprised on WA Merlot built to age better than most Cabs, I had some mags of 82/83 Cold Creek Cab maybe 12 years ago, gave away a bunch as gifts then drank one and instantly regretted gifting them.

I'm really surprised how Matanzas Creek Cab showed, great notes Brandon.

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Re: TN: Seven wines from 1978 (CA and WA), and a few others...

#4 Post by Chris Johnson » February 11th, 2020, 5:11 pm

Not nearly as old, but we had a 1987 CSM Merlot that had the same notes. We paid 34 on a list somewhere in NC and thought we were stealing. Excellent stuff.

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Re: TN: Seven wines from 1978 (CA and WA), and a few others...

#5 Post by Jason T » February 11th, 2020, 8:12 pm

Brandon, nice wines. I never got around to doing any 78's in '18 either. You've inspired me - no reason I can't do it this year!
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Re: TN: Seven wines from 1978 (CA and WA), and a few others...

#6 Post by Brandon R » February 13th, 2020, 8:24 am

Thanks, All. It was a great night. Jason - do it! I held back three more because it would've been too much wine for the crowd size: BV GdL, Beringer PR, and Montelena Estate. Based on this tasting, I'll likely open them soon becuase they're just so good right now.
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Re: TN: Seven wines from 1978 (CA and WA), and a few others...

#7 Post by Ron Slye » February 13th, 2020, 12:47 pm

What a great set of tasting notes -- and sounds like it was a wonderful evening of good food, good wine, and good (adult) conversation. Happy belated 40th!

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Re: TN: Seven wines from 1978 (CA and WA), and a few others...

#8 Post by lleichtman » February 13th, 2020, 2:57 pm

You have inspired me as I have several 78's and my friends all have a few left. Have the Matanzas and 2 Freemark Abbeys and two Phelps.
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Re: TN: Seven wines from 1978 (CA and WA), and a few others...

#9 Post by Alex Frank » February 13th, 2020, 4:06 pm

Very cool and from one central Washingtonian to another, happy birthday!

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Re: TN: Seven wines from 1978 (CA and WA), and a few others...

#10 Post by Roy Piper » February 13th, 2020, 5:30 pm

Does Betz usually take 13 years to enter its "drinking window?"
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Re: TN: Seven wines from 1978 (CA and WA), and a few others...

#11 Post by GregT » February 13th, 2020, 8:30 pm

Pretty cool tasting Brandon. I once pulled out a 1987 Columbia Crest and it blew away our Bordeaux. Some of those old WA wines are surprisingly great.
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Re: TN: Seven wines from 1978 (CA and WA), and a few others...

#12 Post by PeterH » February 13th, 2020, 8:35 pm

Brandon,

If you do '78s again and want some Bordeaux in the mix, just ask me.
P Hickner

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Re: TN: Seven wines from 1978 (CA and WA), and a few others...

#13 Post by Brandon R » February 14th, 2020, 8:04 am

Roy Piper wrote:
February 13th, 2020, 5:30 pm
Does Betz usually take 13 years to enter its "drinking window?"
Yes. While I think the, "It's too young..." is often overdone by us wine geeks, I truly believe Betz is one of those labels that warrants that sentiment. Specifically, the Pere de Famille and even the Clos de Betz (to a lesser degree) in most years are really hard, dense, and unyielding for the first 7-10 years or so.
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Re: TN: Seven wines from 1978 (CA and WA), and a few others...

#14 Post by Brandon R » February 14th, 2020, 8:05 am

PeterH wrote:
February 13th, 2020, 8:35 pm
Brandon,

If you do '78s again and want some Bordeaux in the mix, just ask me.
Awesome. Funny you say that, Peter, because I'm planning on doing an offline and contributing the three I have left: Beringer PR, BV Georges de Latour, and Motenlena Estate. Having some Bordeaux in there would really be fun!
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Re: TN: Seven wines from 1978 (CA and WA), and a few others...

#15 Post by PeterH » February 14th, 2020, 8:31 am

Brandon R wrote:
February 14th, 2020, 8:05 am
PeterH wrote:
February 13th, 2020, 8:35 pm
Brandon,

If you do '78s again and want some Bordeaux in the mix, just ask me.
Awesome. Funny you say that, Peter, because I'm planning on doing an offline and contributing the three I have left: Beringer PR, BV Georges de Latour, and Motenlena Estate. Having some Bordeaux in there would really be fun!
I may have a California Cab or two also.
P Hickner

On s'en bat les couilles

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