The Joseph Phelps winery stayed the course for traditional wines far longer than some of their contemporaries, and I find that their wines are absolutely classic all the way through the decade of the 1980s. Somewhere in the 1990s they went all out for the modernization movement, with lots more new wood, overripe characteristics, residual sugar and a host of other “improvements” that took the bloom of the rose for me, but I have had nothing but superb wines throughout the decade of the 1980s. The 1985 Backus cabernet is excellent and is drinking beautifully at age twenty-four, as it offers up a classy nose of sweet cassis, fresh black raspberries, tobacco, a touch of black truffle and a lovely base of soil. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, complex and very vibrant, with modest tannins, lovely focus and great length and grip on the very classy finish. A delightful bottle with years and years to go. Drink between 2009-2030
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