Noteworthy Older Wines for Gifts and Holiday Dining

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We repeat ourselves, again (and again), in waxing enthusiastic about older wine from California. When some Italian friends came to visit here for the first time last week, they LOVED the 1986 Phelps Insignia. An experienced customer was knocked-out by the 1985 Silver Oak Alexander, and another by the 1985 Stag's Leap. It's so much fun for us Eurocentrics to be happily surprised and fully gratified by an American wine, and these older vintages are drinking beautifully. JW

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Groth 1985 Napa Cabernet Sauvignon

It's a pleasure to check in on these non-superstar California Cabernets. One's expectations for Monte Bello, Montelena, Mayacamas, and Diamond Creek are justifiably high; there are loads of pleasant surprises in the second rank. Oakville's Groth counts among these. Founded by an Atari executive in 1982, Groth specialized in Cabernets which married richness and elegance.

The 1985 Groth Cabernet is remarkably fresh. There is moderate bricking on the meniscus with a ruby center. Aromatically, there are layers of berry, plum, cedar, and spices. The tannins are resolved and the wine is supple and rich, but focused with lively acidity. There is still plenty of fruit and the finish is quite long and complex. Really great energy here! Enjoy after a brief decant with grilled New York strip or lamb loin chops.

 

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