Possibly the most striking setting I’ve witnessed for a tasting, a few weeks back while in New York I had the opportunity to review a dazzling vertical tasting of one of the great Napa wines, Cardinale. One of the gorgeous properties in Napa Valley, Cardinale is located in the Napa floor, in Oakville not far from Robert Mondavi Winery. The Cardinale Red Wine is a Cabernet wine with smaller parts of Merlot blended in. At the helm is superstar winemaker, Chris Carpenter, is an MBA graduate who has previously worked for Domaine Carneros, Domaine Chandon California, as well as Tenute Antinori, Santa Cristina Estate, in Montefiridolfi, Italy, before coming to Cardinale. Chris is humble when talking about his wines. He is truly one of the great talents of Napa.
Listening to Chris give his presentation on the wines was a fantastic experience. His wealth of knowledge for the region and vintages was particularly impressive. Chris talked about these varying vintages, from the challenging 1998 vintage to the near perfect 2002 vintage to the latest vintage, the exceedingly hot and exciting 2014 vintage. Each wine had a wonderful sense of balance, as the older wines showed that while some fruit might drop out, the balance and poise remains in the wine. One of the shining wines I tried was the spectacular 1997 Cardinale Red Wine (WWB, 95) which is now more than 20 years old. This stunner still has an exceedingly long life in the cellar. Also showing marvelously was the 2002 Cardinale Red Wine (WWB, 97), which was impossible to put down, offering serious dark fruits and very pretty aromatics. I have not tried the 2009 Cardinale Red Wine (WWB, 97) for many years but it was showing even better than I had remembered — and I was reminded what a stunning warm vintage ’09 was. The new release by Cardinale, the 2014 Cardinale Red Wine (WWB, 96) is a bit of an untamed beast at the moment as this massive wine will need a bit more time to fully develop. Learn more about these stunning wines at http://www.cardinale.com/ Here are my reviews from the vertical tasting of Cardinale Red Wine at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel NYC.
1995 Cardinale Red Wine-A blend of 76% Cabernet Sauvignon and 24% Merlot, this wine is now more than 20 years old! Earthy aromatics dominate with leather, dusty earth and red cherry with red currant jelly. The texture is outrageously good as the wine shows red cherry, boysenberry jam, smoked meat and cherry tomato flavors that connect with nice tension. This fantastic showing is best enjoyed over the next decade. Drink 2018-2027- 94
1997 Cardinale Red Wine-The wine is a blend of 91% Cabernet Sauvignon with the remainder Merlot. The wine begins with aromas of black cherry, Turkish coffee and tar. The texture is highly compelling as the wine yields black cherry, black olive and Turkish coffee flavors. Rich and decadent this will cellar well for a decade or more. The wine is a show-stopper right now. Drink 2018-2030- 95
1998 Cardinale Red Wine-This wine a blend of 84% Cabernet Sauvignon with 16% Merlot. Aromas of red cherry tomato, red cherry preserves and blackberry pie. The polished and soft texture makes this wine shine. Black tea, anise and blackberry pie flavors show their appeal. This has less weight and intensity than the other vintages but will continue cellar well over the next decade. Drink 2018-2027- 93
2002 Cardinale Red Wine- The 2002 Cardinale Red Wine is a stunning blend of 88% Cabernet with the remainder Merlot. 26% of the fruit was sourced from the To Kalon Vineyard. This begins with exotic aromas of rose petals, red cherry and blackberry cobbler with coffee grounds. This has a marvelous combination of weight and tension. Blackberry pie, mocha, anise and creme de cassis flavors impress. Downright delicious, this has a long life for the cellar. Drink 2018-2033- 97
2005 Cardinale Red Wine- The 2005 Cardinale Red Wine is silky blend of 88% Cabernet with 12% Merlot. This warm vintage wine opens with a bouquet of black tea, graphite, mocha and creme de cassis. The texture is voluptuous as you can feel the heat of the vintage. Mocha, sandalwood, Chinese black tea and blackberry jam flavors impress. Mineral driven and rich, this is a stunner by Chris Carpenter. Drink 2018-2033- 96
2006 Cardinale Red Wine-This is a blend of 86% Cabernet Sauvignon and 14% Merlot. This begins with aromas of black tea, blackberry jam and mocha with crushed mint. Massive and hugely dense, this shows mocha, black tea, graphite and creme de cassis flavors that sit alongside some nice tension. The mid-palate weight is intoxicating. The finish is extremely lengthy and generous, as this is just a spectacular showing by Cardinale. Drink 2018-2033- 96
2007 Cardinale Red Wine-The 2007 Cardinale Red Wine is a blend of 86% Cabernet with the remainder Merlot. This opens with aromatics of creme de cassis, coffee grounds, eucalyptus and wild thyme. The rich texture is outstanding here. Black fruits masquerade with chocolate and coffee notes alongside solid structure. Drink 2018-2033- 96
2009 Cardinale Red Wine-Exotic, layered and stunning, the 2009 Cardinale Red Wine is an incredible blend of 91% Cabernet with the remainder Merlot. Having an extremely deep hue, this opens with hoisin sauce, mocha and blackberry cobbler aromas. The texture is outrageously good, as is the mouthwatering acidity. Black tea, mocha and creme de cassis flavors impress. The exceedingly long finish dazzles. Drink 2018-2035- 97
2012 Cardinale Red Wine-The 2012 Cardinale Red Wine is a blend of 84% Cabernet Sauvignon and 16% Merlot. This begins with aromas of anise, creme de cassis, black tea and mocha. Dense and layered there are ripe black tea, mocha, crushed mint and blackberry pie flavors. Massive and still young, this needs another year in the bottle to fully evolve. There is a wonderful sense of elegance in this wine. Drink 2019-2035- 95
2014 Cardinale Red Wine- The massive wine is a blend of 88% Cabernet Sauvignon and 12% Merlot. This wine opens with a bouquet of coffee grounds, creme de cassis and dried herbs with a touch of blueberry cordial. This has a marvelous tension and weight. Creme de cassis, anise, mocha, blueberry compote and sandalwood flavors show impressively. The combination of weight and tension is marvelous here. Try to resist this gorgeous wine for at least another year. Drink 2019-2035- 96