Bottle Notes, Cabernet Sauvignon

Pick My Next Bottle: ’95 California Cabernet

1995 California Cabernet Sauvignon

The August installment of Pick My Next Bottle focuses on 1995 California Cabernet Sauvignon (see the July installment for background on this series). I plan on opening the winning bottle on August 25th, and publishing an in depth bottle note on August 27th.

1995 was the third vintage in a string of four exceptional vintages in Napa Valley. James Laube of the Wine Spectator gave the vintage a score of 97 while commenting “a surprisingly fine year, with wines marked by great flavors, balance and structure.”

The three August contenders are Dunn Vineyards Napa Valley, Chateau Montelena “Estate” Napa Valley and Dalla Valle Napa Valley. These wines are well known for their ability to age gracefully for upwards of fifteen years. Here are scores and commentary from the Wine Advocate:

  • Dunn Napa Valley – This saturated black/purple-colored 1995 Cabernet Sauvignon possesses a promising yet backward nose of minerals, lead pencil, and blackberries/cassis. This mammoth offering displays extraordinary concentration and purity as well as a thick, unctuous texture with high tannin levels. It will evolve for 30-50 years. When will it reach its plateau of maturity? My best guess is 10-15 years minimum. 94 points.
  • Chateau Montelena “Estate” Napa Valley – This is another winery where the 1995 may be as strong as the 1994. The color is opaque purple. The wine is full-bodied and powerful, with classic notes of cassis intermixed with loamy soil scents, underbrush, and spice. There is massive body and elevated, but sweet tannin that is well-integrated with the wine’s other components, a blockbuster mid-palate, and a finish that lasts for 30 seconds. 94 points.
  • Dalla Valle Napa Valley – The 1995 Cabernet Sauvignon exhibits an opaque blue/black/purple color, followed by sweet cassis aromas intermingled with scents of earth, spice, smoke, and grilled meats. This dense, powerful, muscular, concentrated wine provides enormous mouth feel. Wineries need more than luck to produce mufti-dimensional wines with this concentration, ripeness, sweetness of fruit, and overall intensity and complexity. 94 points.

Which '95 Cab should I open?

  • Chateau Montelena “Estate” Napa Valley (48%, 24 Votes)
  • Dalla Valle Napa Valley (34%, 17 Votes)
  • Dunn Napa Valley (18%, 9 Votes)

Total Voters: 50

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Thanks for voting! I’d love to hear why you picked one bottle over another.

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12 thoughts on “Pick My Next Bottle: ’95 California Cabernet

  1. I vote for the 1995 Château Montelena Estate. I opened this wine about 3 years ago and while I enjoyed the wine, it tasted as though it had passed its peak. It might have been in a dormant phase, but I don’t think so. I’d love to hear your opinion on this. Bottom line: I think it’s best to drink the 95 Montelena Estate sooner rather than later. I rated it 93 points and that was 3 years ago.

    1. I last had the wine in May of 2010. Similar scores although I don’t recall it being as advanced as you describe. Lots of potential variables after a dozen years in the cellar. Win or lose I need to revisit this one soon.

  2. I’m biased, Dalla Valle is one of my favorite cabs. The wine that got me hooked on collecting was 91 Dalla Valle Maya.

  3. I voted for the Chateau Montelena. Agree with others about giving the Dunn more time but seems 15+ years should be plenty for the Montelena. I don’t have any experience with Dalla Valle, but love Montelena so I’m more excited to hear how that one has aged.

  4. For grins, I had to check JL’s drinking windows on WS, according to him, these are all past their peak.

    Dunn- 2000-2008
    Montelena – 2000-2010
    Dalla Valle 2000-2008

    Save yourself the grief, and send them to me for proper disposal. :-)

  5. I think as a general rule, if you take the average of JL’s drinking windows and RP’s drinking windows, it’s probably just about right.

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