California purists may argue that the emerging smells of old leather in this wine are more the stuff of Bordeaux than they are of the local product, but if it is good enough for the top wines from the Medoc, then it is good enough for us. Indeed, "good enough" is too small praise for this deep, rich, still fruity, solidly structured bottling. Ten years of staying power is easily within its reach, and those who would keep it longer than that will not be taking an inordinate gamble.
The 1994s might be ready to drink within 10-15 years. It is hard to believe these wines spend 30 months in oak casks before bottling as they are incredibly unevolved and backward when released. The 1994 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa reveals an opaque purple color, followed by a sweet, rich, black currant and creme de cassis-scented nose with no evidence of oak. This fruit bomb displays considerable breadth and expansiveness on the palate, in essence revealing only two dimensions - fruit and tannin. It is slightly softer and more precocious than the 1995 and 1996, so perhaps it will only need 10, rather than 15 years of cellaring. This immensely impressive Cabernet is a candidate for 20-30 years of cellaring. One of the issues about which Randy Dunn is sensitive is the fact that his wines are so remarkably consistent that it is often difficult to tell vintages apart. I think the vintage character will become more apparent when the wines are 15-20 years of age. Even the most professional palate will be inundated with a furious blast of tannin and concentrated cassis and blackberry fruit when these wines are young. With that in mind, the notes for the wines reviewed in this segment do sound similar, but I feel 1994 may turn out to be Dunn's finest of the three most recent vintages. (RP)
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