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A classically mature 1985 Silver Oak, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley

Silver Oak Cellars was founded in 1972 by Raymond Duncan and Justin Meyer, a former winemaker at Christian Brothers.  The pair focused in on pure Cabernet Sauvignon wines aged in American oak.  The goal was to have wine that was drinkable upon release but also capable of further aging.  Thus their 1972 Alexander Valley wine was not released until 1977.  Two years later in 1979, they released their first of two Napa Valley wines.

I came across a pair of Silver Oak wines last week in the dump bin at MacArthur Beverages.  The bottle from the 1985 vintage had a ratty label whereas the bottle from 1986 looked great.  As both bottles had similar fill and color, I felt reasonably confident in grabbing the better 1985 vintage.  My brother-in-law came to town so I opened up the 1985 Silver Oak Cellars, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley last night. After double-decanting the wine, the cork smelled attractively of tobacco and the nose of the wine was moderate in intensity with a good combination of earth and wood box.  I then knew I had a solid bottle so I took a quick taste.  The wine was better on the palate!  It had both a taut personality and weight to the fruit.  This wine will appeal to lovers of old-school wines of the type that are flavorful, mouthfilling, yet lower in alcohol.  Well stored bottles will drink well for several years to come.


1985 Silver Oak Cellars, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon.  Alcohol 13.1%.  The nose is pleasant with earthy and wood box scents. The wine begins with a taut start of fruit that is still fresh.  It is clearly mature with some sweaty ripe flavors that mix with wood box flavors but the acidity keeps the wine fresh and the red fruit still has good weight.  There is a fine vein of maturity that runs from the start to the finish where the flavors lighten up a bit and more structure is evident.  Drinking well but will last.  ***(*) Now – 2021.


  1. Jamie Garard
    June 6, 2016 at 9:36 am

    Good to hear about the Silver Iak Napa as I have both magnum and a 6L ready to drink.

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