dyer vertical 1996 - 2010


A fifteen year vertical of Dyer Cabernet Sauvignon from Diamond Mountain

I think it likely that nowhere else in Napa Valley, if not the entire US could you

find a winery with more winemaking experience than Dyer Vineyards. Bill and

Dawnine Dyer (l) left Santa Cruz for Napa Valley in 1974 with Bill joining

Sterling Winery in 1976 where he made wines for twenty years. Dawnine began

at Robert Mondavi two years earlier before creating the sparkling wines at

Domaine Chandon for a quarter-century. They built a home on the lower

reaches of Diamond Mountain in 1991 and planted their 2.2 acre vineyard in

1993 to Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec and Petite Verdot.

The first crop in 1995 became house wine. In 1996, a mere three barrels was

produced and labeled, yet even then didn’t go commercial. I was fortunate to be

one of the first to offer the official 1997 debut during my time at Dean &

Deluca. A number of years passed since the last time tasting the wine and Bill

and I began exchanging emails a couple months ago exploring the idea of

arranging a vertical tasting covering fifteen vintages from the library to current

release. Realizing how important this event was, I suggested Dyer invite a couple

wine writers who I consider friends. We gathered with Bill and Dawnine in their

rammed earth home overlooking the vineyard on May 4 th and tasted the wines

in two flights; 1996 – 2003, and 2004 – 2010. I even brought along a copy of that

first tasting note for the winemakers. Because the source never changes, and

the varietal mix is essentially the same, Dyer has a unique signature to their

style of mocha, currant, floral violet, purple herbs and savory mushroom/olive

impressions. As distinctive and well made as the wines are upon release, I had

no idea how they would be at 5, 10, or 15 years. Answering that question was

delicious, the tasting notes begin on the next page. doug wilder | pdwr



1997 CABERNET SAUVIGNON 75CS|10CF|05MR|05PV|05MB NAPA VALLEY 14.00% 135 cs 92

1998 CABERNET SAUVIGNON 78CS|12CF|05MR|05PV NAPA VALLEY 13.35% 150 cs 90

1999 CABERNET SAUVIGNON 78CS|12CF|05MR|05PV NAPA VALLEY 13.22% 149 cs 89

2000 CABERNET SAUVIGNON 78CS|12CF|05MR|05PV NAPA VALLEY 13.70% 175 cs 90

2001 CABERNET SAUVIGNON 80CS|10CF|05MR|05PV NAPA VALLEY 14.30% 348 cs 92

2002 CABERNET SAUVIGNON 80CS|10CF|05MR|05PV NAPA VALLEY 13.70% 246 cs 92

2003 CABERNET SAUVIGNON 84CS|11CF|05PV NAPA VALLEY 13.60% 420 cs 93

2004 CABERNET SAUVIGNON 78CS|16CF|06PV NAPA VALLEY 14.60% 373 cs 93

2005 CABERNET SAUVIGNON 83CS|11CF|06PV NAPA VALLEY 14.60% 410 cs 92

2006 CABERNET SAUVIGNON 83CS|11CF|06PV NAPA VALLEY 14.20% 369 cs 93

2007 CABERNET SAUVIGNON 76CS|19CF|05PV NAPA VALLEY 14.20% 399 cs 88

2008 CABERNET SAUVIGNON 76CS|19CF|05PV NAPA VALLEY 13.90% 122 cs 90

2009 CABERNET SAUVIGNON 76CS|19CF|05PV NAPA VALLEY 13.90% 122 cs 92

2010 CABERNET SAUVIGNON 79CS|17CF|05PV NAPA VALLEY 14.20% 256 cs 93

Tasting new release wine allows a critic to imagine how a vintage may perform over a period of time providing the storage conditions are

stable and optimal. For the most part I play it conservative, generally keeping drink range within a seven – fifteen year window. It is only

when I can experience wines firmly in their second decade of life that the proof of extrapolated longevity can be both enlightening and

humbling. That came to pass when tasting a fifteen-year vertical of Bill and Dawnine Dyer’s eponymous jewel box of a vineyard on the

lower reach of Diamond Mountain. From the premiere 1997, and over subsequent vintages, I found there was a consistent aroma and

flavor profile unique to the vineyard. Clearly the early vintages possess the same underlying character as the current releases yet have

shown to age remarkably well. Originally planted to the five bordelaise, Malbec [1998], and Merlot [2003] were budded over to Cabernet

Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc, respectively. Doug Wilder May 4 th , 2013. FLIGHT ONE |1996 CABERNET SAUVIGNON

shows brilliant ruby color to the rim with no signs of age. It has a mature nose of cranberry, forest floor, camphor and brambly,

sticky blackberry followed by secondary aromas of savory olive tapenade with violet. The palate entry is beautifully elegant and

poised with well-integrated mint, blossom, earth and olive. Drink 2013 – 2020. 1997 CABERNET SAUVIGNON shows a

youthful, jammy character in the nose. The palate is dense and compact black fruit, with well-integrated acidity. No indication of

being past its prime. Drink 2013 – 2017. 1998 CABERNET SAUVIGNON was tasted from two bottles as there was feeling

that the first wine was corked. The second bottle shows a beautiful nose of dark fruit, earth, spice, savory olive and mushroom.

A widely expressive palate entry with polished loam and mushroom lead to a mid-palate of violet and carbon. The overall

impression is elegant and understated. This is yet another indication that a vintage widely panned when released shows well

even now at fifteen-years old. Drink 2013 – 2018. 1999 CABERNET SAUVIGNON has a nose of blackberry, cherry and

clove with secondary dusty essences. The palate is bright on entry yet flavors get a bit narrow in an otherwise solid structure

finishing with herb, mushroom and camphor. Drink 2013 – 2015. 2000 CABERNET SAUVIGNON is still remarkably

youthful with plump, sun-ripened boysenberry, dark cherry and mint. The palate is supple yet structured finishing with lighter

essences of warm berry and very approachable. Drink 2013 – 2018. 2001 CABERNET SAUVIGNON shows a nose of

carbon, blackberry, violet and savory mushroom. The palate is bright with an overall youthful structure offering depth to the

flavors of mocha, lavender and black currant. Drink 2013 – 2020. 2002 CABERNET SAUVIGNON has a stunning nose of

licorice, currant and mocha. The mouth is richly forward and seems like a much younger wine showing vitality to the savory

herb and olive punctuated by bright acidity. Drink 2014 – 2022. 2003 CABERNET SAUVIGNON offers up a pretty nose of

spice, verbena, lavender and blackberry with a gorgeous palate entry of licorice, currant and mocha. Excellent balance. Drink

2013 – 2019. FLIGHT TWO | 2004 CABERNET SAUVIGNON has a deep savory nose with olive, mocha/java. The

palate is well-focused with violet blossom, licorice and supple extracted fruit and a balanced, approachable acid profile. Drink

2013 – 2019. 2005 CABERNET SAUVIGNON offers deep berry and currant aromas with some plum and spice. The palate

shows ripe polished fruit yet has a firm spine of acidity. Secondary flavors of licorice and tar add a lot of interest. Drink 2013 –

2018. 2006 CABERNET SAUVIGNON delivers aromas of briary blackberry and cassis. The palate entry is delicate and

balanced with solid black fruits and textured oak tannins offering saturation and length. Still very young. Drink 2014 – 2022.

2007 CABERNET SAUVIGNON shows a bit of earth and savory dark berries. The palate seems way out of character from

the previous wines in its dense and undifferentiated dark fruits with grippy, youthful acidity. Drink 2014 – 2019. 2008

CABERNET SAUVIGNON likely delivers the best aromatics with precise cassis, blackberry and underlying bright red fruits

and lavender. The palate is more reticent, with leaner, brighter definition however there is a well-saturated feel to the fruit.

Drink 2013 – 2025. 2009 CABERNET SAUVIGNON has a beautifully open rich and supple nose leading to a palate of

mocha, blackberry and olive. The structure of firm tannins will serve this wine well for the long haul. Drink 2013 – 2030. 2010

CABERNET SAUVIGNON [UNRELEASED] offers a gorgeous black currant, bright boysenberry and herb aromatic

profile. The palate is beautiful, vibrant black fruits and herb. Has the structure for aging. Drink 2015 – 2030. A limited number

of library wines are available from Dyer. Also if you like your Cabernet Franc as a single, unblended varietal, I tasted from a

2012 barrel that the winery is considering as a separate bottling. Requests may be made through the website at



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