In a recent retrospective tasting of cabernets from the exalted 1997 California vintage, our 1997 Monte Bello received some nice praise from Stephen Tanzer of Vinous Media. Here is a snippet of the article and review:
“A huge crop of grapes, from a summer with enough sunshine to ripen nearly all of them” was my original description of this classic warm vintage for Napa Valley Cabernet. Most 1997s were opulent and seductive early on, with noteworthy balance, sweetness of fruit and plush tannins. Naturally, the anti-joy division immediately predicted that they couldn’t possibly last.
Admittedly, the wineries that provided samples for my group tasting of ‘97s this spring at Napa Valley Vintners in St. Helena were a group self-selected for quality. (Surely, many wineries declined to submit samples because their ‘97s are fading, but there were also others that simply had no remaining stocks.) And the wines I was able to taste came from what I assume was consistently careful storage, probably moved no more than once or twice—if at all—over the years. But with the exception of about a dozen wines that did not make my cut for 87 points, virtually all of the 50+ bottles I tasted were still full of life…”
1997 Monte Bello – 97 Points – Bright, dark red-ruby. Sexy, lifted aromas of cassis…Intensely flavored and surprisingly firm and energetic, with sweet plum, currant, tobacco and earth flavors lingering through a persistent finish. Tannins are firm and dusty but fine-grained…it’s still juicy and lively today.