1969 Heitz Cellar Cabernet Sauvignon Martha’s Vineyard- USA, California, Napa Valley, Oakville (12/9/2010)
An amazing wine. Cork came out intact, saturated about 2/3 of the way up. Wonderful color for a 40+ year old wine, still very dark ruby red with hardly any bricking. Incredible bouquet, first with the signature eucalyptus/mint, and then that faded into scents of wonderfully pure cassis fruit couched inside a lovely deep beef consomme, backed up by notes of cinnamon, rosemary, ginger, nutmeg, and just a touch of oaky vanilla. On the palate this had perfect poise, with the expressive sweet cassis balanced by the savory almost beefy umami, with plenty of acidity, and just a hint of remaining tannin. It finished with a pretty mingling of the savory and the tart, and the only knock on this wine I could find was that the finish could have been longer. Truly outstanding, a wonderful experience. (96 pts.)
1969 Heitz Cellar Cabernet Sauvignon Martha’s Vineyard- USA, California, Napa Valley, Oakville (12/10/2010)
From the same bottle as the tasting notes immediately below. This was improbably youthful; good fill, sound cork soaked 3/4ths of the way up which came out of the bottle with a satisfying “pop”. Purple color, not as opaque as the 89 Montrose poured alongside it but, remarkably, almost as purple with just the faintest hint of bricking at the rim. Popped and poured. This was a menthol bomb at first (wow, the old Martha’s really do smell like eucalyptus!), but with air it filled out with herbs, cassis, a faint citrus rind smell, and hints of, it seemed, American oak. In the mouth, more menthol, more cassis, and incredible glutamate savoriness. Not a lot of tannin left in this, and perhaps a little too much acidity which led to a slightly clipped finish. If I were guessing, I’d say that despite the absolutely impeccable condition this might have been juuuust past peak, when the fruit might have been a tad richer. That being said, it was still a remarkable, youthful wine and an absolute pleasure to drink. (96 pts.)
Also, reports of the death of Union Square Cafe are greatly exaggerated. We drank this wine there, and the food was quite excellent and wine friendly. Terrific thick venison chop perfectly cooked, probably the best venison I’d ever had.
Sadly, the 1989 Montrose we had alongside this was flawed and almost entirely odorless and tasteless. Corey picked up some TCA- I just got nothing. Bummer.
Lastly, there are still bottles on Winebid from the group that this came from. I can’t speak highly enough of the condition of this wine, so, take that as a recommendation to splurge yourselves. If I could afford another bottle of this, I’d be buying another.
Sounds wonderful - I’ve been trying to track down some old-school California benchmarks to see what’s changed. The offerings I’ve had from Cali have been mainly late nineties and up and while some of the wines I’ve had were delicious, they were never inspiring to the level that this note suggests.
Nice! I’d love to try this one, being a birth year for me, and have heard nothing but praise…giving the '74 a run for its money. I did score a bottle of the 1969 Heitz C-91 Cab…hope it comes close to what you guys experienced!
12/10/2010 rated 95 points: Tasted with coremill and dzop. Started out as what could only be described as a “mint bomb”–the wine almost smelled like gum, but in a good way. Then with a bit of time the fruit came out and it gained richness, depth, and length, with strong notes of cinnamon, ginger and herbs (I perceived rosemary), as well as an orangey/Grand Marnier undertone. Lightish but clearly red color that was remarkable for such an old wine. A joy to drink and completely unique–I have never tasted a wine in which these particular flavors and smells were so prominent.
Amazingly, I feel like I can still smell the wine more than 12 hours later, as if it’s stuck in my nose or something.
I agree with David that the wine was just slightly past peak, although if stored like this one was it should still be quite good for several more years. But there’s no reason to wait to drink it for anyone who gets their hands on this.
Thanks for the note. This really brings back memories for me, as the 68 & 69 Heitz Martha and 68 BV Pr Res, were the first wines that I collected. The 68 and 69 Marthas were spectacular in the hey day and looks like they are holding up well. MIne are long gone, but still have many of the older BV’s of the 60’s, many of which have faded.
Corey, Thanks for the great note. I am also a 69er and had this four years ago . Here’s my CT note. Brilliant stuff (the wine not the note)
1969 Heitz Cellar Cabernet Sauvignon Martha’s Vineyard
SOM’d for only 5-6 hours.
When poured, the wine was full of fruit. You could smell it almost as fast as you could see its surprisngly youthful color. A little clear at the edge, but well, so am I nowadays. The nose was an explosion of dark chocolate covered cherries, signature eucalyptus/ minty chocolate. Blackcurrants less so than cherries. Dark, full bodied and brooding. Full bodied and again a rich absolutely fruit driven blast of dark cherries, mint, chocolate, olives, some leather, like a wet saddle, not dried out leather, sweet and rich fruit. Great, great. At peak and time in hand. No reason I can think to wait though. I am proabably biased as it is a birhtyear wine, but freaking amazing by any standards. 98 pts
There is another thread here today, a “need help with BDX bid” thread that contains a link to the Bonham’s auction. I perused the catalog and see some early 90’s (maybe late '80’s too?) Mayacamas for decent prices.
Re. the Heitz. I believe I had a bottle of this in my possession once, but sold it at a time of need. Makes me a bit sad, but also happy to think that at least a buyer may have had a wonderful experience.