Ardente 1999 Cabernet Sauvignon

Atlas Peak, Napa Valley, CA; 13% ABV
$10 at the Berkeley, CA, store on 12 Dec

Ardente_1999_CabSThis is one of three (so far) older Ardente Cabs arriving of late, along with the 2002 and 2003. My understanding is that only a few “high-volume” stores in the San Francisco Bay Area will see them, so I apologize to readers outside that range.  Although this wine’s style and flavors were a little different from what I expect from Napa Cabernet, I quite liked it.

The long cork was in excellent condition, with black encrustations on the bottom.  I decanted it off a bit of sediment, but the sediment was almost entirely crystalline, and easily stayed at the bottom of the bottle.  So, for this wine, I completely endorse the Lim13 method of pop and pour.  🙂  Nonetheless, I thought the wine gained in complexity for its first hour in a decanter, and continued to darken in color and flavor nicely for another 1.5 hours or so.  It had full flavors of dark red raspberry, purplish cherry, hibiscus tea, blackcurrant, blackberry, cedar, and earth.  Although the fruit is ripe, it’s nicely balanced with tangy acid.  I guess I’d point to the raspberry, hibiscus, and tangy acid as unusual for a Napa Cabernet, or any Cabernet really.  The wine is fully mature but not yet showing any signs of being too old.  Darrell also liked this wine and agreed it was “worth $10.”

The next day, the saved single-glass screw-cap bottle was still delicious.

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41 thoughts on “Ardente 1999 Cabernet Sauvignon

  1. Darrell

    Extracted the cork with a pronged cork puller and used it to rebottle a half bottle. Quality of the cork isn’t as fine as first thought that was based on the amount of color penetrating the cork. When using a corkscrew on the remaining recorked half bottle, the lower part of the cork was quite frangible so it broke 2/3 the way down and the lower third just crumbled. This might be a consideration on the aging and when to drink up.

    Reply
      1. Darrell

        In this case it was about an 1/8″, but other bottles were closer to 1/16″ which lead me to believe the corks were primo. Now I’m not so sure.

        Reply
        1. seedboy

          That is not much saturation for a cork that old. The crumbling is more worrisome but it sounds like there was plenty of sound cork protecting this wine.

          Reply
  2. DavidLikesWine

    First time poster alert, I’m only about 2 years into wine appreciation, but I grabbed a couple bottles of the 2005 at the Palo Alto store today (looks like they just put it out, quite a bit of it). On a pop and pour, at least to me, it’s really good. Cool background notes of leather, cedar-ish something, and tobacco. Well balanced, medium bodied, what I would think of when I thought of a “mountain” cab. Lots of life left in it. I’m happy to have paid $10 for it and will be going back tomorrow to grab more. Cool site! Glad to have found it.

    Reply
    1. BargainWhine Post author

      Greetings David(LikesWine) and welcome. I’m glad you found this site and a wine you like! Thanks for your description, and I agree the 2005 is a good wine with plenty of life left in it.

      Reply
  3. delmartian1

    Oceanside got the 2000 Ardente this week and based on so many comments above I broke my “no domestic GO wines” rule and picked up a bottle to try. Wow. I will have to go back tomorrow and only hope that there are still some there so I can pick up a case to sock away. Winner winner chicken dinner!

    Reply
  4. Darrell

    Since there are several vintage of the Ardente CS available right now, I thought I would taste three vintages side by side so I could find which vintages I prefer. Tonight for dinner I tried the 1999, 2000 (from a sale in 11/11) and 2004. I had the 2002 earlier in the week and had to place this in here from memory. I had rejected the 2005 in favor of the 2000 when they were being sold at GO in late 2011 and can’t remember how much I liked or disliked it. Starting with the less liked, the ranking would be 2004, 2002 2000 and then 1999. The 2004 had less weight and body than the 2000 and 1999 and a touch VA, not obtrusively so though. The 2002 had a better nose and can’t compare the taste from memory. The 2000 and 1999 had more complex noses than the other two and the body and weight much higher than the 2004. Reading up on some tastings of the 2004, there might be some bottle variability so take my opinions with a grain of salt. I have had two bottles of 1999 lately and they were the same and much, much better than the 2000 though the 2000 is quite similar in character to the 1999. The 1999 just has more and with my constant swirling of the two, the 1999 keeps going on and on in the nose. The 1999 has the sweeter entry when I swallow and does seem weightier. I guess the SF GO had good reason to think the 1999 30% better than the other vintages. Good hunting on the 1999.

    Reply
    1. delmartian1

      Was back to get the rest of the 2000s and picked up one bottle of the 2002 to try….sorry I did…more acidic in nature and lacking the smoothness of the 2000. Ran into the GO wine buyer from Northern CA who was visiting the new store owners…he asked if I had tried the 1999 and I was sorry to say that it never got down this way to the best of my knowledge….bummer.

      Reply
      1. seedboy

        Pleasant Hill has 15 more cases of the 2002, and Berkeley has the 2003 on the floor. Is the 2005 still available anywhere?

        Reply
        1. permiesworld

          2004 was another cool year for Napa (like 2011) that was totally panned by the critics and they were so wrong. That Napa area wine has been aging so well. I’d definitely want to try that one.

          Reply
          1. permiesworld

            Strike that, Parker gave it a 91. LOL Honestly, some of my books say “This vintage was terrible and some say it was great.” LOL I happen to like 2004. I have several cabs (just picked up another one from JWC from the Santa Cruz Mtn’s) from that vintage that I like very much.

            Reply
            1. Darrell

              When it comes to evaluating CA vintages, I tend to disregard them especially if the chart doesn’t break down California’s microclmates.

            2. seedboy

              My own thought about “vintage charts” is they tend to be made by folks who think that “big vintages” are necessarily better vintages. 1998 was universally panned, a year after 1997 was lauded, but the 1998s I’ve had recently were better wines than the 1997s, which generally have not aged well.

            3. permiesworld

              I definitely see that trend. I didn’t realize 1998 fell into that cool vintage category until I just looked it up (I don’t have anything from that early. I’m more familiar with everything 2001 and after). Personally, I think that the cooler vintages are much more age worthy. They aren’t as immediately accessible but lots of times those “perfect” vintages (i.e. 2007 was lauded as one of the best ever..I think they gave it a 97 or 98, by WS) and I don’t think its wines are aging as well as some of the lesser lauded years. I’m really enjoying some 2009 Stags Leap Cab that I got for $12 because it was not a highly rated vintage (88 or 89 WS) that is absolutely drinking beautifully right now.

              Some of the hotter years wine seems to bloom early and then fade, IMO. They might drink great right after they are released. I’m expecting 2012 to go that way (in general…maybe not the cooler peak regions) while I expect the well done 2011’s (again in general) to be drinkable for the next couple of decades.

            4. lim13

              I suspect this won’t come as a huge surprise (coming from me), but I haven’t looked at a vintage chart in 20 years…and don’t expect to anytime soon. I shoot from the hip. Bring on all the wines and I’ll let MY nose and MY palate figure it all out.

            5. Darrell

              The hotter vs cooler vintages don’t seem to apply Bordeaux vintages for some reason. Ever notice the great Bordeaux vintages are invariably hot years and early harvests.

            6. BargainWhine Post author

              Re: vintage charts and this wine in particular. I’ve tasted three vintages of these wines, so far: 1999, 2002, and 2005. I’ve been struck by how similar and consistent they’ve been, although obviously the older ones are more evolved. They’ve been so similar that I’ve really lost interest in trying other vintages of this wine.

        1. Darrell

          All of us can make a good vertical of these wines minus the 2001. Maybe the 1997 and 2006 will be coming. In SF, the 1999 is considered 30% better than the others.

          Reply
          1. Darrell

            SF, seems to be out of the 1999 and has 2000, 2002, 2004 and 2005 left on the shelf. I do like the 1999 better than 2000, 2002 and 2005. Haven’t tried the 2003 or 2004 yet.

            Reply
    1. BargainWhine Post author

      Hi Eric. Thanks for your note. I went by the Richmond store today and picked up a bottle of the 2005. I briefly tasted the 2002 and the 2005. I thought they were very similar and both quite good, but that the 2002 was more pleasant drinking now. I’ll review the 2002, but the 2005, although it’s fine to drink now, I’ll probably just lay down for a few more years. I also got a couple more 2002’s for holiday presents. 🙂

      Reply
  5. seedboy

    Oakland store is sold out of the 1999 already. He has 2003 but will not put it out on the shelf until after inventory is complete.

    Reply
    1. Seedboy

      I suspect that these Ardentes are better for the price. Folks, please be on the lookout for other vintages, there was a rumor of the 1997 appearing.

      Reply
  6. permiesworld

    Nice. Your description reminds me a lot of what I like about the Atlas Peak wines and I’m not at all surprised that you find it different than the valley wine. Napa is such a broad designation…the sub-appellations are SO different, IMO and if something is just labeled “Napa” it could be all over the map in taste. I’m completely won over by the peak designations.
    There’s even a difference between the mountains…this gives a good basic description of each of them: http://www.atlaspeak.com/making-mountain-cab

    Reply
    1. BargainWhine Post author

      Hi PW and thanks. That’s an interesting summary. This wine is very different from the La Jota (Howell Mountain) wines I have enjoyed over the years. In this case, I suspect that it’s as much winemaking style as terroir (flavors and tannin produced by where the grapes were grown).

      Reply

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