1974 Clos du Val Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

SKU #900265 90 points John Gilman

 The fruit for this bottling came from vineyards in the Stag’s Leap district and was first released by the winery in October of 1976 for $7.50 per bottle. This was only the third vintage for Bernard Portet at Clos du Val, as the inaugural vintage here was the 1972, so this was still very early days in the history of this estate. At our tasting, the 1974 Clos du Val was not as suave and refined in profile as the superb 1978 bottlings I wrote about a few months back, with a slight coarseness to the tannins on the backend that have reportedly been part of the profile of this wine since it was released, and which remain to this day. The winemaking is just not as fine-tuned here in ’74 as would be the case a few years later, and one has to assume Monsieur Portet was still feeling his way with fruit from the Stag’s Leap district, after having been born and raised in Bordeaux. That said, this is still a pretty good wine with decades of life ahead of it. The bouquet of the 1974 Clos du Val is still quite fine, offering up scents of cassis, cigar ash, dark soil tones, tobacco leaf, hints of chipotles and a smoky topnote. On the palate the wine is deep, full and nicely suave on the attack, with a good core and complexity, but the aforementioned grittiness of the tannin on the backend detracting a bit from what is a pretty tasty wine. This is good in a slightly rustic style, but it is pretty clear that Clos du Val was still a work in progress in 1974. (Drink between 2017-2040)  (11/2017)

Jancis Robinson

 Fresh and lively. Sweet, round, more transparent than the 1978 Reserve but still long and rich even if it doesn't have that much more to give. But it's still a long term wine to judge from the suggested drinking window! 17.5/20  (11/2013)

K&L Notes

After a two-year mission by American businessman John Goelet to find a new site with potential for making world-class wines, French winemaker Bernard Portet chose what would eventually be called the Stags Leap District of Napa Valley for its cool evenings and ideal terrain. The 150-acre parcel that Goelet purchased became Clos du Val, a "small estate of a small valley." Producing classically styled wines of balance, elegance and complexity has been the winery's goal ever since. From a legendary vintage for California Cabernet, this Clos du Val is rare and very special.

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Price: $149.99
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Varietal:

Cabernet Sauvignon and Blends

- Cabernet Sauvignon has come a long way from its role as a blending varietal, however dominant, in the wines of Bordeaux. Today it is the most planted red varietal in the world. Identified as a descendent of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc, the late-ripening Cabernet Sauvignon needs to be planted in warmer climates to fully ripen. Its small berries can easily be identified for their distinctive blue color, thick skins and high tannins. And while the varietal has its own definitive characteristics: green pepper-like aromas and black currant flavors among them, it is perhaps most prized for its ability to convey terroir, vintage and winemaking. A relatively new varietal, Cabernet Sauvignon started making inroads into the wines of the Médoc and Graves in the late-18th century. Today it is also dominant in the up-and-coming Entre-Deux-Mers region of Bordeaux and can also be found in Southwest France. It is the companion varietal to Sangiovese in Italy's Super Tuscans and is planted all over Europe, stretching to lesser-known winegrowing regions like Russia and Lebanon. In the Americas Cabernet Sauvignon has found champions in every nook and cranny of California and among winemakers in Washington, where it complements plantings of Merlot. In South America, Cab thrives in Chile, but can also be found in smaller amounts in Argentina and even in Mexico.
Country:

United States

- When people consider domestic wine, they normally think about the state of California. The fine viticultural Region within California, including the Napa Valley, Sonoma, Santa Cruz Mountains, Mendocino and Santa Barbara, are capable of growing grapes of world-class quality. But there's plenty of fabulous wine coming from other states, too. Oregon, Washington and New York are also causing eyebrows (and glassware) to be raised around the world.
Sub-Region:

California

- With the explosive growth that California's wine industry has seen the past several years, it's easy to view winemaking and grape growing in the Golden State as a recent phenomenon. And while it's true that California's viticultural history is brief compared to several European countries, this state's roots date back well over 200 years. Due to the enormous response to California wine within the United States and worldwide, there are thousands of excellent and diverse wines being produced within the state each year.
Specific Appellation:

Napa Valley

- America's most famous wine region, which encompasses a varied geographical territory running about 20 miles long from the San Francisco Bay northward to the foot of Mount St. Helena. Napa's great diversity, both in terms of climate and terroir, has led to the creation of a number of smaller AVAs like Stags Leap District, Rutherford, Howell Mountain, Oakville and Mount Veeder, among others. Cabernet and chardonnay still reign supreme, but just about everything under the sun is grown in Napa Valley, in quality levels ranging from $2 jug wine to $500 a bottle California cab.