The fruit for this bottling came from vineyards in the Stag’s Leap district and was first released by the winery in October of 1976 for $7.50 per bottle. This was only the third vintage for Bernard Portet at Clos du Val, as the inaugural vintage here was the 1972, so this was still very early days in the history of this estate. At our tasting, the 1974 Clos du Val was not as suave and refined in profile as the superb 1978 bottlings I wrote about a few months back, with a slight coarseness to the tannins on the backend that have reportedly been part of the profile of this wine since it was released, and which remain to this day. The winemaking is just not as fine-tuned here in ’74 as would be the case a few years later, and one has to assume Monsieur Portet was still feeling his way with fruit from the Stag’s Leap district, after having been born and raised in Bordeaux. That said, this is still a pretty good wine with decades of life ahead of it. The bouquet of the 1974 Clos du Val is still quite fine, offering up scents of cassis, cigar ash, dark soil tones, tobacco leaf, hints of chipotles and a smoky topnote. On the palate the wine is deep, full and nicely suave on the attack, with a good core and complexity, but the aforementioned grittiness of the tannin on the backend detracting a bit from what is a pretty tasty wine. This is good in a slightly rustic style, but it is pretty clear that Clos du Val was still a work in progress in 1974. (Drink between 2017-2040)
Fresh and lively. Sweet, round, more transparent than the 1978 Reserve but still long and rich even if it doesn't have that much more to give. But it's still a long term wine to judge from the suggested drinking window! 17.5/20 points.
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