Deep, fresh dark red. The darkest vintage to this point in its fruit character, offering complex aromas of blackberry, cassis, boysenberry, smoke, minerals, licorice, tar and flowers. Juicy, spicy and densely packed, conveying a lovely suave, fine-grained texture to its vibrant dark berry and mineral flavors. A firmly tannic wine with terrific energy, and an outperformer for the vintage. (ST)
The last of the Pam Starr vintages, with production now dropping to just over 4,000 cases from the high of 5,800 in 1991, the 1996 is a blend of 95% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc. A hot year, again, with plenty of heat spikes, produced a more one-dimensional style of Spottswoode, but with a dense ruby/purple color. Notes of black and red currants, earth, menthol and cedar. The wine is medium to full-bodied, big, dense, slightly rustic, but ripe and chewy. I doubt it will develop much charm and finesse, as the great vintages do, but it is certainly solid, mouthfilling and savory. Drink it over the next decade. 90+ (RP)
At first there's a standoff between drying herb and currant flavors and firm, vibrant tannins. In the end, the flavors and structure compliment each other, making this a complex, satisfying wine that's aging nicely. The best of three bottles.--1996 California Cabernet retrospective. (JL, Web-2007)
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