Photo: Courtesy of Heitz Cellars
I was fortunate to have been invited to a vertical tasting Heitz Cellars "Martha's Vineyard" Cabernet Sauvignon.
The tasting encompassed wines from 1973 - 1984. Included in this tasting was the spectacular and impossible to find (for less that $1000.00/btl) 1974 vintage. The hosts for this event were Dick Stinson and Judy Erdman. Dick has a expansive cellar and he has collected wine for well over the past 30 years. All who attended this tasting owe a huge collective "Thank you" to Dick and Judy for being kind enough to share these wonderful wines.
These 12 wines were tasted in order, though I kept general notes I didn't rank these wines at the end of the night. To be honest, what struck me the most was how young, fresh and fruit forward nearly all of these wines were. The color on all but one wine was garnet and without a hint of brickishness. It was as though these wines had been stored in the the "Twilight Zone". I am sure that if we tasted these wines in another 10 years they would still not be on the downward side of their maturity.
Heitz Cellars-Martha's Vineyard-1973: Slightly sweetish, port-like, some leather notes that layer in nicely with silky tannins-perhaps some english walnut on the finish
Heitz Cellars-Martha's Vineyard-1974: Eucalyptus nose, well structured, perfumy and extremely well balanced. The wine was bright, fresh and not even a hint of brickishness in regard to color.
Heitz Cellars-Martha's Vineyard-1975: Slightly astringent, not well balanced, a hint of leather and again no discoloration with this wine.
Heitz Cellars-Martha's Vineyard-1976: Roasted meat on the nose giving way to currant fruit and gripping tannins. Long finish with some dark chocolate on the palate.
Heitz Cellars-Martha's Vineyard-1977: Tart fruit with a slightly thin mid-palate that gives away to gripping tannins and tobacco on the finish.
Heitz Cellars-Martha's Vineyard-1978: Dark fruit with Dark Chocolate, a hollow mid-palate that finishes with a big tannic structure. This wine had a touch of green bell pepper (underripe fruit?).
Heitz Cellars-Martha's Vineyard-1979: Port-like, dried/raisiny fruit. This wine was the only one of the line-up to show some age and my guess is that we just had an "off" bottle.
Heitz Cellars-Martha's Vineyard-1980: Fresh purple/currant fruit, amazing that a nearly 30 year old wine is this fresh! Layers of tobacco, mushroom with a well knit tannins. Very nice.
Heitz Cellars-Martha's Vineyard-1981: Fresh fruit, lively with nice structure. This wine could easily go another 10+ years.
Heitz Cellars-Martha's Vineyard-1982: Leathery nose with fresh lively purple/currant fruit, very nice effort.
Heitz Cellars-Martha's Vineyard-1983: "New world" fruit, this would be a wine that tastes 20 years ahead of its time. The wine is dominated by the fruit and has far less structure than the previous 10 wines tasted tonight.
Heitz Cellars-Martha's Vineyard-1984: Tobacco on the nose that leads to fresh fruit and very silky tannins. Nice balance and a long finish.