Results from a Cabernet tasting - Saturday, September 18, 1999, at the Wine Exchange in Orange, CA. Nineteen wines were poured for a tasting fee of $25.
The wines, in the order tasted:
'97 Quintana - North Coast. (by Laurel Glen) $11.99. Ruby
garnet color. Nice dark extraction. Nose of cassis, must, sawdust,
and cedar. Big mouth-coating fruit, anise and black cherry flavors.
'97 Pellegrini Cloverdale Ranch - Alexander Valley. $13.99.
Ruby garnet color. Lt-med extract. Nose of cassis, anise, chocolate,
cocoa, and chalk. Soft and silky on the palate, sweet cassis fruit,
'96 Sebastani Unfiltered - Sonoma Valley. $15.99. Garnet
ruby color. Nose of cassis, chocolate, anise, cedar, and toast. Off-sweet
fruit, slightly bitter back palate, very long finish.
'96 Gary Farrell Hillside Selection - Sonoma Co. $19.99.
Medium dark garnet color. Nose of cassis, must, oak, black cherry,
and blueberry. Off-sweet fruit (almost green or sour), some semi-tartness
on brief finish.
'95 Gallo Sonoma Frei Ranch - Dry Creek Valley. $18.99.
Brown garnet color. Beefy and pasty (like pasta) nose, with aromas
of cassis, anise, and a hint of vinyl. Big, slightly tannic entry,
excellent mouthfeel, lots of fruit, very long finish.
'96 Kenwood Jack London Vnyd - Sonoma Valley. $24.99.
Medium dark garnet ruby color. Nose of cassis, anise, wood spice,
and ...hot dog! Sweet fruit, with a tannic mid and after palate. Dry
'96 Arrowood - Sonoma Co. $32.99. Effusive nose of cassis,
anise, hard woods, and graphite. Quite complex, very "together" and
focussed. Big and sweet mouthfeel, excellent coverage on palate, gobs
of fruit, smooth tannins, massive finish. Just fabulous!
'95 Fisher Wedding Vnyd - Sonoma Co. $51.99.Very dark
ruby garnet color. Somewhat herbaceous nose of anise, cassis, sawdust,
and sweet flowers. Double wow! Incredibly seductive. Tannic and dry
yet smooth mouthfeel, sweet-sour fruit, really coats the palate, very
very long, if slightly tart finish.
'97 Lewis Merlot - Sonoma Co. $32.99. Dark ruby garnet color.
Fleshy, herbaceous nose of black cherry, anise, mint, eucalyptus,
and shoe polish. Sweet fruit, slightly coarse tannins, massive mouthfeel.
Fruit-filled and big.
'97 Matthews Cellars - Yakima Valley, WA. $31.99. Medium-dark
garnet ruby color. Nose of sweet black cherry, cassis, floral aromas
and oak. The Merlot and Cab Franc really come through in the nose
(18% Merlot, 11% CF). Sweet toasty taste, good concentration and mouthfeel,
medium-long finish, smooth and seamless, with obvious tannins.
'94 Godspeed - Mt. Veeder. $14.99. Dark ruby garnet color.
Nose of sweet cassis, cinnamon, anise, and sawdust. Slightly tart
fruit, good coverage on palate, lots of drying tannins, smooth tart
'97 Rocking Horse Garvey Family Vnyd - Rutherford. $22.99.
Purple ruby color; deep and dark looking. Nose is very toasty, with
buttery abd creamy cassisaromas. Sweet mouthfeel, toasty smooth fruit,
polished tannins, elegant feel and finish, with a long toasty aftertaste.
'97 Viader - Napa Valley. $39.99. Medium-dark ruby garnet
color. Nose has a sweet herbacious quality and even a touch of leafiness.
Aromas of cassis, shoe polish, toast, and anise. Dry semi-sweet mouthfeel,
moderate coverage on palate, smooth taste, and long finish.
'95 York Creek Meritage - Spring Mtn. $35.99. Medium-brown
garnet color. Nose of cassis, chocolate, anise, anise, and more anise,
with a hint of mint. The 25-30% Merlot seems integrated quite well.
Sweet fruit, dry mouthfeel, with a slightly tart anise-filled finish.
'95 Bell Wine Cellars Baritelle Vnyd - Rutherford. $37.99.
Medium-brown garnet color. Big beefy and BBQ nose, with additional
aromas of cassis, anise, toast, shoe polish, and blueberry. Semi-sweet
mouthfeel, big on fruit, excellent palate coverage, smooth tannins
that seem to get more pronounced at finish. Never heard of this producer
or vnyd before, but I'm impresssed.
'96 Emilio's Terrace - Napa Valley. $35.99. Dark ruby garnet
color. Nose of cassis, shoe polish, and anise. Complex and georgeous.
Big and sweet mouthfeel, smooth tannins, excellent fruit, and very
long finish. Produced by Oak Knoll Winery.
'96 Whitehall Lane Reserve - Napa Valley. $39.99. Very
dark ruby garnet color. Massive nose of cassis, anise, mint, toast,
and chocolate. Sweet fruit and mouthfeel. Smooth texture, deliciously
smooth and long finish.
'96 Caymus - Napa Valley. $69.99. Dark ruby garnet color.
Nose of toast, anise, and cassis. Absolutely textbook! Medium mouthfeel,
lots of fruit and toast, with just a touch of tartness. Hey, it's
a real nice $35-40 wine!
'95 Shafer Hillside Select - Stags Leap. approx.$110.99.
Extremely dark purple garnet color. Nose of shoe polish, anise, cassis,
and blackberry. Sweet fruit, somewhat dryingon the palate. The fruit's
appearance seems slightly brief, rather that ever-present, but th
ewine has quite a chew. Some bitterness and aspirin-like quality to
the extended finish.
Overall impressions: an interesting selection of wines, with several new "faces." There was also quite a range in price, with the "...if we had it - this is what it'd cost" Shafer topping out at $110. It was a nice enough wine, but several others at 1/3 the cost showed better -- at least today. It's the same old thing for Arrowood, they just keep pumping out fabulous juice. The really tasty Whitehall Lane Reserve was a nice surprise. Both the Caymus and the Fisher efforts scored highest for aromas, but the taste/mouthfeel of each wine didn't quite measure up to the fantastic noses.
In the under $25 category, both the Rocking Horse and the
Gallo Frei are very good wines at very affordable prices. And
at $12, the Quintana makes a better-than-quaffer wine for a
Here is my relative ranking, by tier and in order of preference, of the wines tasted.
'96 Arrowood - Sonoma Co. $32.99.
Copyright © 1993 - 2004, Eric Anderson - All rights reserved
No original material may be reproduced without written consent
Mail & Comments - Eric Anderson