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A friend gave me a mixed dozen for Chinese New Year, mostly from the mid- to late 1990s, and in recent days we tasted half of them to see how they were faring. It was an education.
We began with a 1997 Carneros Creek pinot noir. This estate was a pinot pioneer in California. The Carneros region is in the south of the Napa valley, about 90 minutes by car north of San Francisco, and in summer it receives cooling breezes from the Pacific Ocean and San Pablo Bay.
The cork was in perfect condition and the wine, while it had peaked some years ago and was declining, was still pleasant. It was dark cherry in color with an appealing bitumen aroma. The tannins had softened, and while the wine had almost no length, it was still drinkable.