Gems in My Glass . . . January 2014

Cabernet Sauvignon, Gems in MY Glass . . . No Comments

CABERNET SAUVIGNON from the Pacific Coast

Four of my fellow wine colleagues and I took part in an enlightening Cabernet Sauvignon tasting in Geyserville this month.  We blind tasted twelve Cabernet Sauvignons produced in three different wine regions along the Pacific Coast; Sonoma County and Napa Valley in California, and Horse Heaven Hills in Washington.  High marks were awarded to wines in all three wine regions, with price points ranging from $28 to $200 per 750ml bottle.  Here are my impressions of each wine tasted:

Alder Ridge Winery 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon; Horse Heaven Hills, WA:  Black fruit aromas temp you into the glass, where you’ll find a lush and full bodied wine made of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot and 5% Malbec. Dark berry and cassis fruit dusted with chocolate and spicy forest floor notes expand broadly in the mouth with a nice richness and a solid backbone of tannins. Well balanced and extremely palate pleasing.  Subtle oak from the 100% French oak aging (new and seasoned) lingers on the lovely finish.   SRP: $30  www.alderridge.com

DenHoed Wine Estates 2009 Andreas Cabernet Sauvignon; Wallula Vineyard, Horse Heaven Hills, WA:   Earth driven aromas lead to tart berry and black cherry flavors mingling with brown spice and wild mushrooms through the mid to back palate.  The essence of oak (100% Vicard French oak; 90% new) is pleasantly integrated in this 100% Cab Sauv. Tannins are firmly placed front and center, promising ageworthiness.  The wine displays leanness with a hint of minerality on the lingering finish.  SRP: $80  www.denhoedwines.com

Double Canyon Vineyard 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon; Horse Heaven Hills, WA:  Alluring aromas of concentrated black cherry and a subtle hint of roasted meat lead to a ripe and round entry with this Cabernet Sauvignon blended with 15% Syrah.  Bing cherry and black plum flavors are accented by freshly ground multi-colored peppercorns. Aged 20 months in French oak (35% new), it features a lightly toasted note that adds complexity. Seriously structured tannins and well placed acidity pulls the package together beautifully.  SRP:  $40 www.doublecanyon.com

Januik Winery 2010 Champoux Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon; Horse Heaven Hills, WA:  Inviting scents of tobacco and dark fruit rise from the glass.  Immensely flavorful upon entry with layers of dense blackberry, cassis and juicy black cherry fruit enhanced by minerality and a kick of fresh chopped herbs.  The finish is satisfying as it lingers with a whisper of chocolate and sweet oak notes.  Although approachable now, the firm backbone of tannins suggests this Cab is also cellar worthy.   $55 www.noveltyhilljanuik.com

Chateau Montelena Winery 2010 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon; Napa Valley, CA:  Enticing black fruit and spicy aromas shout out Cabernet Sauvignon.  The wine opens with rich, lush flavors of black cherry and black currant interlacing with savory herbs, tobacco and spiced oak notes in the background.  The texture is velvety smooth and the wine shows wonderful depth and complexity.  Approachable now yet still tightly wound with powerful tannins.  Decant for full enjoyment now, or wait if you can; as this Cab will cellar handsomely for many years.  SRP: $150 www.montelena.com

Antica Napa Valley 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon; Napa Valley, CA:  The dazzling mixed berry compote aromas that grab your attention are deliciously echoed through the engaging entry.  Roasted coffee bean and savory spice accents dance around wild blackberry, olallieberry and blueberry fruit at the core.  This Cabernet Sauvignon is sleek and brightly elevated on the palate with vibrant expression of fruit and acidity, and shows off chalky tannins and persistent length on the gratifying finish.  SRP:  $55  www.anticanapavalley.com

Corison Winery 2010 Kronos Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon; Napa Valley, CA:  Resounding black cherry and perfumed floral notes fully capture the nose with this complex, deeply structured, energetic Cabernet Sauvignon. Layer upon layer of blackberry, cassis, spiced plum, tobacco and a touch of earthy minerality converge and flow in harmony across the palate.  This gem engages the senses completely through the memorable finish.  Lively acidity keeps it vibrant, the oak is exquisitely integrated, and firm, assertive tannins promise longevity; unquestionably an ageworthy wine.   SRP:  $135 www.corison.com

Sbragia Family Vineyards 2010 Andolsen Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon; Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County, California:   Evocative eucalyptus, raspberry and sweet tobacco spice aromas rise from the glass and speak distinctly to Dry Creek Valley terroir. Enticing flavors of red currant, blackberry, licorice and a suggestion of spearmint fill the mouth luxuriously.  Precisely balanced and powerfully structured, this wine is thoroughly enjoyable now, and will continue to open up delightfully over the next several years.  SRP:  $40 www.sbragia.com

Stonestreet Winery 2010 Monument Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon; Sonoma County, CA:  Alluring earthy aromas with hints of capsicum captivate the senses.  Loganberry and black raspberry fruit adorned with freshly cracked peppercorns, a hint of eucalyptus and allspice coat the palate fully.  Tannins are firmly structured, and the wine boasts elegance and a velvety texture.  A kiss of bittersweet chocolate lends a tasty surprise to the memorable finish.  SRP: $45 www.stonestreetwines.com

Smith Madrone Winery 2010 Cook’s Flat Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon; Spring Mountain District, Napa Valley, CA:  This multi-layered Cab Sauv blended with Cabernet Franc is intense right from the focused berry and cherry aromas that waft from the glass.  The tight yet flavor packed palate offers up blueberry, black cherry, cassis, savory spice and hints of capsicum and a broad beam of tannins.  Aged for nineteen months in 100% new French oak, the oak is ever present but sits properly in the background.  The texture is silky and the spirited acidity keeps the wine in balance through the finish. This Cab, in its youth now, will continue to develop more fully with age.  SRP:  $200 www.smithmadrone.com

Kendall-Jackson Wines 2010 Grand Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon; Sonoma County, CA:   Aromas that ooze blackberries and spice are echoed on the palate with this plush wine. Crafted of 90.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5.4% Malbec, 3.5% Petit Verdot, .4% Cab Franc and .2% Merlot this wine is deeply fruited.  Mixed berry, juicy plum, black currant and olalliberry berry pie flavors swirl delectably amidst polished tannins while mineral and tobacco notes add further dimension.  The aging in French and American oak is nicely portrayed in the long lasting aftertaste with a pretty touch of vanilla and cinnamon-spiked cocoa. SRP: $28 www.kj.com

Jordan Vineyard & Winery 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon; Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, CA:   Scents and irresistible flavors of blackberry, wild berry and cassis are framed by restrained oak, sweet pipe tobacco and hints of earthy, forest floor notes; simply stunning.  This complex wine showcasing chalky tannins and bright acids is skillfully crafted with impressive purity. The depth, complexity and precise balance speak volumes about its promising cellarability.  SRP: $53 www.jordanwinery.com

The increase of Cabernet Sauvignon plantings in wine regions around North America over the past four decades is astounding.  Many believe this grape still reigns supreme. Our professional review this month included the above dozen well-crafted Cabs within a mid to higher price range ($28 to $200) from just three of the many highly touted wine regions across North America.  This lends credibility to the belief that there are terrific wines from different regions to be discovered for every wine aficionado’s palate across a wide range of pocketbooks.  There are thousands and thousands of wine choices out there and every vintage brings something new; no one has tasted them all.   Remember, it’s YOUR unique palate; taste and choose what suits YOU; no one can tell you that you’re doing it wrong!