Twenty five years rolls around, and it is time to evaluate one of my very favourite Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon vintages – 1994. There are a few reasons why this vintage has long been a favourite of mine. First of all, the growing season was relatively textbook, adequate but not excessive water, plenty of sunshine but an absence of heatwaves, ripening evolution was slow, with a fairly late harvest of healthy, complex grapes was on offer. Second of all, style. The fashion for bigger-is-better had not quite begun in 1994 (I think the floodgates opened there with the 1997s), yet the long period favouring a more austere style typified in the 1980s had largely ended. So for me, 1994 provides a style sweet spot from a vintage also prepared to give it. Finally, from the few 1994s I have tasted in recent years, time has not been unkind to well-cellared examples – long cellaring has delivered something worth waiting for.
Tonight however, is not a random survey of 1994. It’s a carefully curated collection of classics and cults!
Wines to be served:
1994 Screaming Eagle
1994 Opus One
1994 Bryant Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
1994 Dalla Valle Vineyards 'Maya'
1994 Shafer Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon
1994 Joseph Phelps 'Insignia'
1994 Araujo Eisele Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
1994 Caymus Vineyards 'Special Selection' Cabernet Sauvignon
1994 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve