1990s Napa Valley - An Influential Decade

Graham Tucker | March 3, 2021

Beringer - Colgin - Mondavi - Montelena - Spottswoode

The 1990s is arguably Napa’s most influential decade. After the boom of the 1980s, in which the number of wineries soared, the 1990s witnessed the birth and rise of some of Napa’s most iconic cult wines: Screaming Eagle, Harlan, Colgin, Araujo to name a few). Further, and in large part thanks to the emerging influence of the modern wine critic, the wines started to showcase what makes them so sought-after today: ripeness of fruit, opulence, fine tannins, polish and deep perfume - remarkably age worthy, yet distinct for their uncanny charm and approachability. 

From the best producers and among those highlighted, the wines are stunning today and will be over for the next several years, perhaps more. One of my favorites for value is the more traditional Cabernet Reserve from Mondavi - they have purity and grace, marked by superb balance and structure. Particularly the 1995 - mineral, smokey and deliciously-savory - easily mistaken for mature-claret. 

And, we are especially excited about 1997 - a near-perfect vintage in Northern California. The wines are among the most vivacious of the decade. You won’t find a better example than Spottswoode - it still has surprising weight and youthfulness. I would recommend purchasing several as it continues to evolve and improve.