TN: 1973 Freemark Abbey

What can I say? Sometimes the wine gods smile on you. I asked the waiter for the vintage of the Bosche mentioned on the restaurant’s wine list, and after a short while he returned with a dusty 1973 estate cab (for all of $69). Though not Bosche, it was an easy choice to give it a shot. My eagerness rose when the cork eased out gracefully, and the decant proceeded smoothly. Slight bricking in the glass, and nothing cautionary in the appearance overall. From the first sniff, it was clear that fortune shined upon us. Beautiful notes of mocha and licorice emerged from the glass even in the first seconds after being poured. The wine was lush, smooth and elegant, with sweet tannins and a sustained finish. Only after two hours did the fruit begin to fade. Old School Napa for sure – what a treat!

The 1973 Bosche used to be on a wine list for $30 until the mid 90’s and I drank all of them. It was a really good wine along the lines of your steal of the estate cab.

Nice experience. I don’t have many '73 Cali cabs left, but I enjoyed the vintage very much. Thanks for sharing

I’ve had some bottles of 1997 Freemark Abbey (both the regular cab and the Bosche) and they’re great, quite a steal at auction pricing (as are almost all non “collector/geek” Napa cabs from the 90s on back).

Great point, Chris, and I completely concur. I think of 1997 as the last year before Napa cabs dramatically changed style (generalizing, of course, but much more true than not), and find the Bosche – 1996 as well as 1997 – to be stellar examples of that graceful, old school juice.

Interesting, I was just discussing last night how I, and others, feel the transformation was in full swing by the mid 90s. I think there is a marked shift between the 1990 and 1995 Bosche, for example.

I really like 1999, myself. I’ve found that to be better and more consistent (for my preferences at least) than 1997, I had just mentioned 1997 because that is the vintage from which I’d had the Freemark Abbey cabs.

I find some crazy bargains on 1998 and 2000, which are definitely not big and blowsy, but show a nice stern cool-vintage style at this point in their age. For me, I think 2001 forward showed a move towards a riper style, or at least that began a run of vintages that produced those styles, or some combination of the two.

Not meaning to be nitpicky – we’re probably saying mostly the same thing, but just a bit of rambling about vintages.

Interesting comments. Would suggest that the ripeness trend for Napa Valley Cabernet started in the early to mid 1990s, however was limited mostly to a few cult producers (Bryant, Harlan, Colgin, etc.) At that time, seem to recall they got a lot of press, and were really different tasting, and good. After 1997, the broad trend started to really take off.

Have tasted the 1997 Bosche recently and could not agree more, a fantastic wine, and a steal in the $30 to $50 range. Will keep an eye open for the 1973. Has anyone had a 1968 Freemark Abbey Cabernet? A single bottle in the cellar, am anxious to open, curious what to expect?