The Oeno File: 1990 Far Niente Cabernet Sauvignon

October 29th, 2011

By Chris Gill

One common and often-repeated misconception is the belief that California wines don’t have the aging potential of many French wines. While I personally haven’t done a scientific study, my recent experiences with two 1990 wines from France and California (a Lynch Bages Bordeaux and Far Niente Cabernet Sauvignon) confirms that this is a myth. Both wines are still incredibly youthful and vibrant after 21 years, but I personally felt that the Far Niente would likely outlast the Lynch Bages when it comes to providing the enhanced pleasure that time in a bottle rewards patient wine drinkers.

Admittedly, many California Cabernet Sauvignon wines from this period can be one-dimensional and overly assertive with bold fruitiness, but this particular vintage of Far Niente offers a wonderful contrast of lively, initial red and black fruit flavors balanced by fascinating layers of earthy, masculine traits such as cigar tobacco, mushroom, leather, cedar, and spice that emerge with each sip. The tannins have softened significantly with age (aided partially by four hours in a decanter) but the fruit is so fresh that it almost seems like a two-year-old wine instead of a two-decades-old bottle (but without the sour tang of many young Cali Cabs). A properly stored and preserved bottle of 1990 Far Niente could probably last another 20 years, but since it’s drinking so well now it’s not a crime to enjoy it today.

For more information visit Farniente

  • Dirk Hampson

    Thanks. That was a great vintage with length and elegance. It was the wine I enjoyed for the New Year of the millenium and it’s still going strong.