TN: 1979 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon (USA, Washington)

  • 1979 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon - USA, Washington (7/30/2015)
    My first good wine from Washington, and a very good one indeed. Nearly opaque crimson. A bit of a chameleon. This started out tasting like a fine mature claret, with a powerful, bass-register nose of leather and cassis. After an hour of air it evolved dramatically: the fruit shifted to an almost Zinfandel-style blueberry character and then pushed towards redcurrant, while the wine picked up some sweet fig and coffee aromas, and a lively citric bite gave it some newfound tension. Medium-plus body, with some minty notes on the palate that aren’t really perceptible from the nose. Nice old-wine texture, and developed a quite persistent aftertaste after a bit of aeration. By the later stages of the evening this had become a dead ringer for an elite 1970’s Cali Cab–the two wines I’ve had that tasted most like this were a 1974 Diamond Creek Volcanic Hill and a 1978 Joseph Phelps Eisele.

With mostly resolved tannin and healthy acid, I’d consider this to be in late-peak form: if you can find a bottle (I believe just 1,800 were made in this inaugural vintage; I got mine from Winebid), there’s certainly no rush to drink it, but nor is there any reason to expect further improvement from here. I do wonder whether the winemaking here has changed significantly (as it has in so much of California) in recent decades, or whether the handful of pedigreed Washington reds I’ve had were all simply tried too young. (94 pts.)

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