Casey McClellan
April 19, 2011 | Casey McClellan

Tasting Notes on Older Vintages

Every wonder how your Seven Hills wines are aging in your cellar, but preferred not to open a bottle just to find out? We can help! Here at the winery we taste older vintages from time to time, occasionally even dipping back into the early 1990s. I plan on posting tasting notes from our recent experiences with older bottlings, sharing how the wines are showing. I hope this helps our buyers of past vintages know how the wines are aging, and gives those who are holding more recent releases an idea of how our wines progress in the cellar. In general, the wines described here will always be from our winery library cellar, and have been held at our facility under good temperature control for their entire lives.

We’ll focus on our vineyard designated Cabernets and our high end red blends greater than five years old, for the most part. Once in a while you’ll see something on older Rieslings, Merlots, and our more exotic niche varietals such as Petit Verdot and Tempranillo.

We do offer a very limited selection of library releases for those looking to drink mature reds, or replace a favorite bottling from the past.

To begin, here are my notes on three wines tasted recently.

2003 Cabernet Sauvignon, Seven Hills Vineyard, Walla Walla Valley

Tasted February, 2011

Our warmest vintage in the last 20 years. Still shows strong red color, no significant “bricking”. Sweet red and black fruits on the nose, vanillin. Gentle, soft tannin on a sweet fruit palate, finishing with slightly drying tannins. Drinking well now. I would estimate another 3-5 years of life in the cellar.

2003 Pentad, Vintage Red Wine, Walla Walla Valley

Tasted April, 2011

We decanted this off of light sediment, and the wine kept opening up over the course of two hours. Clear, medium red color. Strong cedar note off the top of the nose, followed by red and black fruits, licorice and fennel. Warm, soft integrated palate with a complex persistent finish edging in to light tannins. I would say this wine is in it’s mid-life. Absolutely delightful wine!

1996 Cabernet Sauvignon, Klipsun Vineyard, Red Mountain

Tasted February, 2011

These older bottling date from the period when Red Mountain did not exist as an AVA. Thus, they are labeled with the “Columbia Valley” AVA designation. The wine showed a deep purple-red color, with a slight brick edge, and some sediment in the bottle. Initially their was a reductive, light leather note, which opened to sweet berry and fruit notes with time in the glass. Black, dusty blackberry fruit by mouth, lain over a still solid tannic core, balanced finish. At almost 15 years old, this Cab has aged beautifully. It’s in its sunset years, and will continue to become gentler. Having worked with this vineyard block of Cabernet since 1991, I expect that the wine will remain interesting and sound for up to five more years under proper storage conditions.


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