1985 Spottswoode Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
...extraordinary effort. Still youthful, backward, and immensely promising, this rich, powerful, concentrated wine displays sensational extract, admirable purity, layers of ripe black-cherry and cassis fruit, fine integrated acidity for focus, and sweet, ripe, tannin in a lengthy finish. Unevolved and young, it is capable of 15 more years of cellaring. I have always felt this was one of the finest Cabernet Sauvignons Spottswoode ever made, and this tasting confirmed those thoughts. California's answer to Chateau Margaux? Drink it between 1998-2015. Wow!
The California wine community rejoiced with the picking and first tastings of the 1985s because it appeared that we had found a French-like year in which elegance and balance with lovely, refined fruit would give us some of the finest wines ever seen. Well, it has not turned out that way in the long run, but Spottswoode's '85 does come closer to Bordeaux in its tobacco-scented maturity than we normally see in these parts. It is to be drunk up now and will yield real pleasure in its atypical complexity. Two stars when first reviewed.
Particularly pale with lots of brick to orange on the rim. Classic mature claret nose. A real trip down memory lane for me of my early days in the wine world - like a 1960s red bordeaux. Again a slight marine/oyster shell note plus a little bit of menthol. Relatively lightweight but lovely balance in a delicate way. Transparent. It made it into the Wine Spectator top 100 wines and put Spottswoode on the map.
Ranked #8 on The Wine Spectator's "Top 100" wines of 1988.