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The wines of Diamond Creek Vineyards, Napa Valley, California 

1500 Diamond Mountain Road, Calistoga, CA 94515, USA
Tel: 001 707 942 6926
UK Merchant Lay & Wheeler (Tel 01206 764446)

This Napa Valley estate was purchased by Al Brounstein in 1968, but it wasn’t until 1972 that the first Diamond Creek wines were released. Since then these wines have become among the most highly sought after in California. Just 1500 cases or so are made annually, and even at a per-bottle price in the region of £100, these sell out fairly quickly. The three wines are made from Bordeaux varieties, predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon. They form one of the most celebrated non-European demonstrations of terroir: each wine is vinified similarly, the only difference lying in the soil type and exposure of the three vineyard plots. These ‘terroir’ differences are demonstrated in the wines, although if you want to try to spot them yourself at home, it could be a fairly expensive experiment.

It’s tough to assess wines like these, made in a rather unshowy, structured style and destined for ageing, when they are so early on in their development. It’s also tough to be objective when you know how much they cost. Having said this, it’s clear that they are high quality, Bordeaux-style reds with firm tannins and lots of potential. They’ll need to be cellared for some time to begin to show why they are so highly sought after.

1998 Volcanic Hills Cabernet Sauvignon
Rich blackcurrant fruit on the nose with some mineralic complexity. Firmly tannic, tight palate shows good concentration. A full flavoured style. Very good/excellent

1998 Red Rock Terrace Cabernet Sauvignon
This is the warmest of the three sites. Quite rich, perfumed nose with some sweet fruit. Beautifully balanced but still tannic palate, very much in a Bordeaux style. Firmly structured still. Very good/excellent

1998 Gravelly Meadow Cabernet Sauvignon
Complex, spicy, mineralic nose. Concentrated, chunky palate is quite firm with lots of tannin. Great potential here, even though it is currently lean and very youthful. Very good/excellent  

wines tasted November 2001

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