I had not tasted a bottle of the 1977 Bella Oaks since early 2013 and the wine has blossomed nicely since that last bottle and is far better than I initially imagined. Four and a half years ago, I wondered if the wine would ever fully blossom from behind its remaining tannins, or if the wine was always going to be a bit bound up in its structure from the second straight drought vintage in Napa. Clearly, the wine just needed time and this most recent bottle was really wide open and showing beautifully, offering up a superb nose of cherries, blood orange, a touch of sealing wax, cigar smoke, red curry, a touch of new oak and a beautiful base of soil tones. On the palate the wine is pure, full-bodied and tangy, with impressive depth at the core and lovely complexity. There is still just a touch of backend tannin on the very long, well-balanced and classy finish. Fine juice that I clearly underrated previously. (Drink between 2017-2040)
Quite right to serve this first as it may have looked a little spindly after the 1995. A wonderful testament to California Cabernet, the late Joe Heitz and the Rhodes's who owned Bella Oaks vineyard. The most gorgeously sweet, fully evolved yet really quite delicate nose - almost burgundian. Minty, fresh with wonderful balance and subtlety, although the acidity started to show through after 30 minutes or so in the glass. Marvellous. Less than 13% alcohol if I remember correctly. 19/20 points.
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