February 10, 2008

1999 Snowden Cabernet Sauvignon

There are plenty of wines that I pass up for no particular reason other than the fact there are too many out there and it's impossible to try them all. I think if I was able to, I’d sure have a much bigger problem that choosing which ones to drink. When I walked into my local store with the plan of finding something actually fairly mature to drink with dinner I never thought I'd walk out with a bottle of Snowden. But, that's exactly what happened and I'm very happy it did. It's yet another reminder that I, like many people drink wines far too young and deny themselves the pleasures that come with time in the bottle.

Snowden Vineyards is a winery that has a rich history dating back to 1955. I've had a few on occasion, at a dinner party here and there, but never really took the initiative to collect the wines and try various vintages. After having this wine, I now feel a bit foolish and think I might have cheated myself of some great vinous experiences over the years by neglecting these wines. I suppose I can always play catch up, right? If the current vintages are drinking anywhere remotely similar to the 99, then I have plenty of time.

Located on the ridgeline where St. Helena and Rutherford come together, the vineyards are planted primarily with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. Wayne and Virginia Snowden purchased the property back in 1955 and sold the grapes to local wineries (Stag's Leap among one of them), never actually bottling wine under their own label until 1993 when John Gibson became winemaker, and the first vintage of Snowden wine was released. Over the years they've sold grapes to various people, including Silver Oak among others, but now reserve all the fruit to bottle under the Snowden name.

The current vintage of has received some great reviews, while maintaining an affordable price. In a place where $100 price tags are slapped on bottles seemingly without thinking twice, it’s refreshing to see a winery that’s been around for many years still offering great wine at a good price. Snowden Vineyards currently produces two estate grown claret style wines as well as a Sauvignon Blanc.

Tasting Notes:
This wine must have been a monster upon release. Inky black in the glass with a dark garnet rim. There's still tons of life left in this Cabernet. Aromas of dusty tobacco, espresso and milk chocolate mixed with pencil lead eventually relent to reveal layers of red currant mixed with herbs I can't quite pinpoint. In the mouth, tannins are still alive and kicking, but deftly balanced with acidity and fruit. Incredibly concentrated, black cherries, tobacco, hints of leather on the palate. Nice vanilla oak nuances that are apparent, but not obnoxious. A real pleasure to drink.

Price: Around $50

Score: 90-93

No comments: