The 1969 Chappellet Cabernet Sauvignon is poured and all conversation stops. I can smell the intoxicating bouquet right out of the bottle, but it is the wine’s color and overall intensity that are beyond belief. Graphite, lavender, smoke, herbs and host of intense dark fruits saturate the palate as this stunning Cabernet Sauvignon shows why it is regarded as one the greatest wines ever made in Napa Valley. At times, the textural richness and viscosity are reminiscent of legendary Médocs such as Latour, while the intense savory/smoky notes recall great vintages of La Mission Haut-Brion, but the essence is pure Napa Valley. I have had the 1969 a number of times and it has always been nothing short of remarkable, as it is once again on this night. I am too young to have tasted the 1969 when it was a young wine, but it must have really been something. Readers lucky enough to own bottles can look forward to another 25+ years of exceptional drinking. Philip Togni was just a young man when he made the 1969. He could have retired immediately and still left behind an incredible legacy. Togni has of course gone on to have a brilliant career, but the 1969 Chappellet remains arguably his single greatest achievement. Simply put, Chappellet’s 1969 Cabernet Sauvignon is a testament to the heights that can be reached in Napa Valley and, even more specifically, on Pritchard Hill, where the Chappellets were true pioneers long before the area gained the prestige it enjoys today. (AG)
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