One has to go back to 1984 to find as tiny a crop for Spottswoode as the 2004. The extreme heat and subsequent early harvest caused some problems that year, but the quality was extremely high, although there wasn’t much of it – only 1,532 cases were made. The wine, a blend of 97% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Cabernet Franc came in at 14.4% natural alcohol. The wine is spectacular and falls right into my observations when I did the 2004 Northern California retrospective several years ago. Only 30% of the crop was actually used in this extremely hot vintage. Loads of big, sweet, floral-infused blackberry and cassis fruit are present in this wine, which is multidimensional, has magnificent intensity, terrific unctuousness, in a very Château Margaux style, despite the conditions under which is was produced. There is an elegance and fragrance, yet power allied to full body that is striking. This wine, while on a relatively rapid evolutionary track, should hit its peak in another 3-5 years and last 20-25. (RP)
*Three stars* In an era where ever-increasing ripeness seems to be the order of the day, polish, proportion and balance are the watchwords of this keenly crafted Cabernet. There is, however, no dearth of richness and fruity depth to be found here, and the wine offers up loads of incisive curranty fruit backed by a broad sweep of creamy oak. From its aromas of root beer, cola and cassis to its long and unwaveringly fruity flavors, it shows a seamless fit of its many pieces, and, while sporting sufficient tannin to develop famously for a decade or more, it is remarkably seductive even in its youth.
Elegant and stylish, with pure, rich, vibrant and focused black cherry and blackberry fruit that's supple and polished. The aromas capture the ripe berry fruit, adding a pretty floral array, and the tannins are firm yet fine-grained. Long and persistent on the finish. One of the best from Spottswoode in recent memory. (JL)
Deep red-ruby. Very primary aromas of dark berries, cherry pit, dried flowers, tobacco, potpourri and mocha are accented by pepper and eucalyptus. Lovely peppery lift carries through onto the palate, which shows less baby fat than the 2002 but is still very rich, thick, concentrated and long, with very smooth tannins. Reveals some very rich chocolate and coffee notes but harmonious acidity gives the palate shape and verve. (ST)
The ’04 Spottswoode shows the enormous ripeness of the vintage, with lush currant, blackberry jam, chocolate-covered cherry candy and spice flavors, plus an earthier note of sweet green olive tapenade. For all that voluptuous flavor, the wine maintains great structure. Very good now, it will gradually evolve through at least 2012.
The Novak family celebrated the 25th anniversary of its first Cabernet vintage (1982), and the 125th anniversary of their St. Helena estate last year. This 2004 is the sort of supple, silken Cabernet that has made Spottswoode's reputation, with straight-on black currant flavor and a robust structure. It should be reaching its best drinking ten years from the vintage.
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