Tasting of various Cabs - June 14, 1999. Results from a "Cabernets of the World" tasting at the Mondavi Food & Wine Center in Costa Mesa, CA. This was part of the MF&WC wine appreciation seminar series. Led by Mondavi's Dyson De Mara, we went through eight Cabs (6 of which were tasted double-blind) with an emphasis on geographical location's effects on the wine. The fee for this particular seminar was $40, which included a light pasta supper beforehand.
The wines, in the order tasted:
'96 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon - Stag's Leap District, Napa
Valley. $45. Ruby garnet color. Nose of black cherry, cinnamon, vanilla
and anise Gets a bit metallic with time. Dry and somewhat astringent mouthfeel,
semi-sweet fruit, light-medium body, with a trace of heat at finish. 100%
'96 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon - Oakville District, Napa Valley.
$45. Ruby garnet color. Nose of casis, chalk, butter, leaf, and olive.
Nice semi-sweet fruit, big mouthfeel, very long tannic finish. Quite tasty.
'95 Guado Al Tasso, Bolgheri - Tuscany, Italy. $55. Nose of cassis,
cedar, anise, and buttery vanilla. Very sweet berry smell. Light mouthfeel
and medium flavors, with a long, crisp and clean finish. 60% Cab
'95 Delheim Grand Reserve Cabernet, South Africa. $18. Leafy and
floral nose, with cassis and wet redwood.. Somewhat lean and hot. Decent
fruit flavors, but leaves a slightly sour taste. 77% Cab and 10% Cab from
'95 Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon - Napa Valley. $100.
Slightly shy nose of cassis, shoe polish, cedar, and stems. Flavors of
cassis and mocha; very good balance. Warm fruity mouthfeel, slightly bitter
fruit, very long and tannic finish.
'96 Ch. Lafite Rothschild - Pauillac. $300. Initially, very herbaceous
and feral in the nose, with some rosewood and vitamin E aromas as well.
Though it did open up to a normal cassis nose after some sitting around,
I wasn't wowed with the wine. Huge mouthful of chewy fruit; earthy flavors,
with burnished cherry and prune and a slightly sour taste at the finish.
Undoubtedly, I was a little put off by the nose. In fact, I pegged it
as a Bates Ranch cab, rather than somthing with the pedigree it had. As
a sidebar, I usually like to remove the labels from bottles of wine, then
scan and post them on this site. In this case, I was able to secure several
of the empties from the night's seminar, among them the Lafite. Unfortunately,
Lafite appears to now be using one of those nasty self-stick jobs, and
a crummy one at that. The usual 20 minutes of soaking produce a mealy,
gummy mess that wasn't worth the water to soak it! Imagine - they make
a $300 wine and then wrap it up in a 10¢ label. Cheap-ass so-and-so's.
'96 Wynn's John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon - Australia. $55
Nose of shoe polish, ink, cassis, dill, and floral components. Slightly
sour fruit, very mouth-coating, with big tannins. Very long finish.
'96 Seña - Chile. $55.Slightly vegetal nose, with blueberry,
juniper, and floral notes. Big mouthfeel, good balance, very long finish.
Semi-sweet blackberry and blueberry fruit, obvious acids and tannins.
Overall impressions: Dyson lectured on the various geographical regions that Cab is grown, as well as discussing well, we did cover a lot of territory with the selected wines (frankly, I'd have preferred to blanket a few areas at the expense of others). The biggest surprise was without a doubt, the Lafite. Smelling much more Californian to me, I was shocked to hear it was from France. So much for empirical knowledge. The Guado was wound a little tight (as in acids), which should have been expected, and the Mondavi Reserve tasted like its usual self. The Seña provided a nice contrast. I liked the semi-strong tomato vine nose probably more than most tasters, and thought the fruit quite nice. On the surface, it may seem a little pricey for a Chilean Cab, but it would be interesting to taste this and the Wynn's after 5 yrs of age. The Delheim illustrates to me that the South Africans have a ways to go with their red program.
Here is my relative ranking, by tier and in order of preference, of the wines tasted.
'96 Wynn's John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon - Coonawara, Australia. $55
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