I have been trying to pull some of these older wines out of the cellar and try them. I'm often surprised by how well they have held up and in some cases by how genuinely wonderful they can be. I did a couple of filet mignons on the grill last night to go with a tarragon-mustard sauce I put together and mashed potatoes. Pat made a capresi salad with tomatoes and basil from her garden to round out the meal. So Napa reds seemed a good choice. Alas, the first two older wines I pulled were a disappointment.

1997 Venge Family Reserve Merlot

Almost nothing on the nose. Faded red fruit, a bit funky. No tannins to mention, slight acidity, balance is OK. Finishes short. Well past prime. "C-"

1994 Heitz Cabernet Sauvignon Bella Oaks Vineyard

My last bottle was two years ago. I liked it and my note then said then that I should drink my remaining bottles over the next year or so. I should have taken my own advice. The nose has some light cedary notes. But the palate immediately tells you this is well past prime. Faded red fruit, soft tannins, negligible acidity, Finish is short and undistinguished. "C"

I had a backup bottle ready and the 2011 Zeitgeist Cab saved the day. I'll post a separate note on that wine.