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Inglenook, "Limited Cask Reserve", Napa Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon - 1981

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If Captain Niebaum was partially responsible for introducing Cabernet Sauvignon to Napa Valley, then John Daniel Jr. was responsible for carrying on his granduncle's tradition of excellence and finessing that varietal to revered status. In honor of Daniel's Cask Wines program that he began in 1949, our estate-bottled vintages from 1995 through 2008 of this grape variety were originally called Cask and bore oak veneer labels. Up until then the wine consisted of 100 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, aged in American oak barrels. The 2009 vintage, however, saw changes both in name as well as in the production and aging regimen, and now Inglenook's Cabernet Sauvignon is blended with Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Merlot, and Malbec–-depending on the desired profile–-all of which is aged in French oak.

"For most wine lovers, the Inglenook that thrived under the leadership of visionary owner John Daniel Jr. is a distant and fading memory, if it registers at all. The man who dedicated his life to uncommonly high winemaking standards died years ago, broken, bitter and disillusioned after financial hard times forced him to sell this Napa Valley treasure. But those who have had the opportunity to taste Daniel's Inglenook Cabernets know that they are among the greatest red wines ever made. The string of magnificent vintages made by Daniel and his stern and exacting winemaker, George Deuer, began in the 1930s with the repeal of Prohibition and ended in the 1960s with his sale of the winery. Despite efforts to revive the winery and restore its reputation after Daniel's death in 1970, none of the wines made after 1964 measure up to the Daniel-era classics. A last-ditch attempt in the 1980s to restore Inglenook's name and reputation resulted in superior quality wines... "

92 points Wine Spectator