by Fred McMillin
for June 15, 1999


Age Inexpensive Reds?


"Price can be a rough indicator of ageability, although it isn't always reliable. A very cheap wine...is probably not intended for aging. The best California wine for aging is Cabernet Sauvignon."

...Larry Walker, San Francisco Chronicle, 1993

The Rest of the Story

How would two years in the cellar affect a 1993, $11 Rutherford Ranch (California) Cabernet Sauvignon?

The Comparison of Two Bottles of the 1993

Number of
Scott's Tasters
Tasting Date Rating
Seven 12/14/96 Highly recommended in its price range
Seven 02/07/99 ???

Ernie and Virginia Van Asperen The 1996 Tasting
The ninth WineDay column we ever published was devoted to this tasting. It read in part, "has sweet-oak backdrop for pleasing cherry flavors."

The 1999 Tasting
The wine finished 6th against 19 rivals. The five that beat it were all much more expensive, AVERAGING $28 a bottle. Clearly, the additional age had not degraded this Cab. The cherry flavors were milder; the oak was more pronounced. Overall, the panel rated the more mellow wine with its new aromas a bit higher than they did two years earlier. It is definitely HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

The Wine

1993 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Rutherford Ranch, St. Helena, CA
Phone—(707) 963-5251, FX (707) 963-0834
Contact—Virginia Van Asperen
Price—$11 when released about three years ago
Founders—Ernie and Virginia Van Asperen (pictured)


Wine historian Charles Sullivan tells of a California Cab, a 1974, that "developed an almost legendary reputation in the 1980s among collectors." Who produced it? Ernie Van Asperen.

Note: The first tasting was described in the Jan. 23,1997 WineDay article, "A Second Label to Remember".

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


WineDay Annex

More articles by
Fred McMillin


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