Pssst! Pass This Cab Across Your Lips -or- Aaaaah, the Eisele!

If you’ve been following along with this saga, the 1971 Ridge Eisele Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon has been the subject of some degree of scrutiny and speculation of late, and finally, courtesy of the good graces of one Mr. Paul Draper, I was able to taste this rare and mercurial offering. I did so in the company of Sara Teeter, Monte Bello Hospitality Representative, and Chris Seguin, Monte Bello Customer Service Representative, both of whom have extraordinary, and extraordinarily fine-tuned and individualized, palates.

In case you need a refresher on this history of this wine, my previous post can be found here:

We tasted the wine blind next to another offering of somewhat similar vintage and varietal, a 1968 offering from Bordeaux, which I won’t name for reasons soon to be made clear. Meaning, it was really easy to spot the Ridge, because it was both stylistically and aesthetically intact, as well as structurally (read: drinkable!), and the other was, well, not so much. Hopefully needless to say, all three of us successfully identified the Ridge with no trouble at all.

Anyhow, on to the Eisele:

Appearance: Plum and amber hues, exceedingly limpid translucence, a quite attractive sort of pale orange limn (with hints of salmon tones), and the fascinating and/or baffling  utter lack of legs; it’s all glaze! Very intense viscosity, to say the least …

Aromatics: Cedar, dried cranberry, a hint of prune, some brandy notes, a slight forestiness, and some faint traces of menthol … Surprisingly fresh aromas all the way around, very vibrant …

Front: Both acids and tannins are strong right out of the gate, with the acids holding on through to the roof of the mouth in mid-palate … Not a ton of fruit in the front …

Mid-Palate: Fruit begins to emerge here, with some classic old-world portions of plum, both fresh and baked, some raisin and prune, and some mincemeat … Strong dose of rusticity overall … There are also some brighter notes of cherry additionally on offer which, combined with the full-on presence of acidty, makes for a rather unexpectedly spirited and zesty layer to counterbalance all those earthy sylvan attributes …

Finish: Medium-length, showing off the remarkably intact structure; the herb and spice components definitely win the day over the presence of fruit, as do acid and tannin, but all are in balance, making for a complex and very chest-warming residual echo of all the above … none of which to say there isn’t still fruit present; there is, but the fruit hangs on a dominant architecture of herb, spice, and earth …

Summary: If you’re fortunate enough to have a bottle of this wine, drink now, and find out why Ridge’s particular methodologies as regards the production of Cabernet Sauvignon translate across other properties besides Monte Bello itself; 38 years later, this is still a very enjoyable bottle of wine.

What a treat to be able to taste this. ‘Twas a good day indeed…


And p.s., here’s an exerpt (posted with permission!) from Monte Bello winemaker Eric Baugher’s reaction to tasting this wine:

“The ’71 Eisle was awesome!  I had not tasted it since 2001.  It still has maintained a great deal of freshness and a delicious level of fruit.  I figure it could continue to go out another 15-20yrs.  The bottle we opened had a high shoulder fill and a fully saturated cork. When I pulled the cork, there was the wonderful sound of vacuum-meaning a great seal was protecting the wine. ” –EB

Categories: Bordeaux varietals, Cabernet Sauvignon, History, Tasting Notes, Varietals & Blends

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