There are 3,900 cases of the prodigious 1997 Cardinale, comprised primarily of Cabernet Sauvignon with a tiny dollop of Merlot. The wine has an opaque bluish black/purple color, a knockout nose of black cherry liqueur intermixed with cassis, lead pencil, mineral, and smoky oak. The glorious richness in the mouth is backed up by a full-bodied, opulently-textured, super-extracted wine that is neither heavy nor ponderous. Stunning purity, a fabulous multi-layered impression, and a finish that goes on for nearly a minute make this the most exciting Cardinale to date. For statisticians, this is a blend of 91% Cabernet Sauvignon and 9% Merlot, of which 79% of the grapes came from Napa and 21% from Sonoma. It spent 22 months in 100% new French oak before being bottled with neither fining nor filtration. It tips the scales at 14.2% alcohol. Anticipated maturity: 2004-2030. Robert Parker 95 points
Bright deep ruby. Aromatic nose of blackcurrant, blackberry, graphite, licorice, bitter chocolate and minerals. Big, sweet and generous; superb ripe acidity gives the dark berry flavors clarity and verve. Terrific intensity and depth of flavor without excess weight. Not a blockbuster but possesses the structure for longer-term aging. Very fine tannins spread out to coat the entire mouth. Very long and bright on the aftertaste. Classy cabernet sauvignon-based wine.
-- Stephen Tanzer 93