1987 Napa Valley - The Wine Independent

1987 Napa Valley

1987 Vintage Ratings:


Red wine vintage rating: 94

1987 Top Three Napa Valley Wines Today:


Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon

Chappellet Cabernet Sauvignon Signature Reserve

Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon Sycamore Vineyards

1987 was a hot, dry vintage for Napa Valley. The sustained heat throughout the growing season set a small crop of tiny, concentrated, thick-skinned berries from the outset. Everything ripened at once in late September, just as a heatwave was approaching, forcing a mad dash to bring in all the fruit before it fried. Tannin levels were super-high, yet the flavors were intense thanks to the small berries and crops.


Throughout this period of the mid-1980s, a number of vineyards around the valley were succumbing to phylloxera (having recently been planted using the doomed AXR1 rootstock that was being recommended by UC Davis). However, the optimal growing season coupled with a smaller crop in 1987 meant that most vines could bring their fruit to ripeness. Therefore, some very impressive, age-worthy Napa ’87s were made. Bottles I’ve tasted recently from Spottswoode and Chappellet demonstrate rich, opulent Cabernets that have aged gracefully. Considering how disappointing this vintage was in Bordeaux if you’re looking for wines from this vintage that are still showing well, Napa Valley Cabs are well worth considering.