Mostly Cabs -
Results from a mostly Cab wine tasting - Saturday, July 29, 2000, at the Wine Exchange in Orange, CA. Twenty wines were poured for a tasting fee of $28.
The wines, in the order tasted:
1997 Estrella Cabernet Sauvignon - California.$3.99. Medium ruby color. Sweet aromas of light cassis with some stemmy and weedy qualities. Toasty mouthfeel, with light fruit flavors. Though a little cloying and light-medium in mouthfeel, this $4 wine actually comes off as more of a quaffer rather than a thin wine or just plonk. My score notwithstanding, if you were on 'Survivor' and a case of this stuff floated up, ...well suffice it to say, you'd be reeeal happy. Aroma score: B- Taste score: B- Overall score: B-
1997 Dickerson Ruby Cabernet - Napa Valley. $12.99. Ruby in color - what else? Nose of cassis, tomato, oak, cedar and a dried weed quality that wouldn't let go. Moderate body, somewhat fruity mouthfeel and aftertaste with some oak and steely acids through the finish. Better in the mouth than the nose. This variety was apparently developed by UC Davis as a heat-tolerant grape for use in the Central Valley. Makes me wonder what this wine would be like from a Fresno appellation. Aroma score: B- Taste score: B Overall score: B
1997 L'Ecosse Cabernet Franc - Napa Valley. $24.99. Medium ruby color. Nose leans to the green-side of Cab Franc, with mostly leafy and floral notes to the fruit. Medium-full mouthfeel, with toasty fruit that displays some bitterness to the light oak, cedar, and redwood flavors. Aroma score: B- Taste score: B Overall score: B
1997 McKenzie-Mueller Cabernet Franc - Napa Valley. $22.99.Medium ruby color. Floral and stemmy nose with additional aromas of cherry and bittersweet chocolate. Toasty and fruity across the palate, medium in weight, with a fairly long bittersweet chocolate-cherry finish. Aroma score: B Taste score: B Overall score: B
1998 Canoe Ridge Merlot - Washington. $18.99. Ruby garnet color. Nose of sweet black cherry and toast. Light-medium mouthfeel, with a toasty, slightly fruity finish. Aroma score: B Taste score: B Overall score: B
1997 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars Merlot - Napa Valley. $27.99.Medium-dark garnet ruby color. Somewhat restrained nose of off-sweet plummy fruit, oak and cheddar. Toasty and fruity mouthfeel, medium-full almost chewy body, nice balance and long finish. Aroma score: B Taste score: B Overall score: B
1997 Arrowood Merlot - Napa Valley. $32.99. Medium-dark ruby color. Nice substantial background aromas of toast and black cherry try to overcome what seems like underripe fruit in the foreground. Toasty off-sweet black cherry fruit, with bittersweet chocolate and cinnamon flavors. Surprisingly weak effort - especially in the nose. Aroma score: B- Taste score: B Overall score: B
1997 Chateau Margene Cabernet Sauvignon - San Luis Obispo.$26.99. Medium ruby color. Floral and stemmy nose that seems more vine than grape. Fleshy and stemmy mouthfeel, with sweet black cherry flavors, and medium finish. The taste is kind of interesting here, once you get by the nose. Aroma score: B- Taste score: B Overall score: B
1997 Simi Cabernet Sauvignon - Sonoma County. $17.99.Medium-dark ruby color. Nose of black cherry, vanilla, and a bit or orange zest. Slightly chewy mouthfeel, with moderate off-sweet fruit, nice balance and finish. Here's an example of a wine that seems "thick" in the mouth, yet the fruit leans toward a lighter style. Aroma score: B Taste score: B Overall score: B
1997 Carmenet Moon Mountain Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon-Sonoma Valley. $37.99. Very dark ruby violet color. Nose of cassis, oak, anise, orange zest, and shoe polish-like aromas. Full mouthfeel, toasty off-sweet cassis fruit, with additional flavors of anise and light oak. Long toasty finish and aftertaste. Seems very nicely made. Aroma score: B+ Taste score: B+ Overall score: B+
1997 Hanna Reserve Proprietor Grown Cabernet Sauvignon-Alexander Valley. $29.99. Medium-dark ruby garnet color. Toasty cassis nose, with a sweet smoked quality. Sweet smoky almost BBQ-flavored mouthfeel, with notes of toast, cassis, and anise, leading to long finish. Nice wine. Aroma score: B+ Taste score: B+ Overall score: B+
1996 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon - Alexander Valley.$49.99. Medium-dark ruby garnet color. Nose of off-sweet smokey fruit that seems a bit green or underripe, as well as aromas of oak and shoe polish. Toasted and fruity mouthfeel, smooth long off-sweet finish that also seems somewhat flabby. Aroma score: B Taste score: B Overall score: B
1997 Clos du Val Cabernet Sauvignon - Napa Valley. $21.99.Medium-dark ruby garnet color. Nose of toasty cassis and anise, with a slightly green quality to the fruit. Initially big mouthfeel, but the fruit seems to get a bit chalky and grainy about mid-palate and through medium-long finish. Aroma score: B Taste score: B Overall score: B
1997 Cafaro Cabernet Sauvignon - Napa Valley. $31.99. Dark ruby violet color. Nose of cassis, black cherry, anise, and a hint of celery heart. Substantial mouthfeel of off-sweet cassis fruit and toast, very nice balance, and long finish. Aroma score: B+ Taste score: B+ Overall score: B+
1997 Wolf Family Vineyard - Napa Valley. $28.99. Dark garnet ruby color. Sweet and complex nose of cassis, anise, toast, oak, and ash. Very toasty mouthfeel, sweet cassis fruit, very good balance, and long smooth finish. Aroma score: B+ Taste score: B+ Overall score: B+
1997 McKenzie-Mueller Cabernet Sauvignon - Napa Valley.$28.99. Very dark ruby violet color. Dense and complex nose of cassis, floral aromas, and toasted grains. Nice chewy body, toasted smokey black cherry flavors, long smooth finish. Impressive. Aroma score: A- Taste score: B+ Overall score: B+
1997 Vine Cliff Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville Estate -Napa Valley. $42.99. Ruby black violet color. Major extraction here! Nose of cassis, mint, cedar, pepper and a hint of dill. Very ripe cassis fruit, with a toasty quality to the mouthfeel. Lots of oak and tannins lead to a long mocha-like finish. Probably too ripe for some, this wine seems to have an Aussie influence. Aroma score: A- Taste score: A- Overall score: A-
1997 Corison Cabernet Sauvignon - Napa Valley. $43.99. Dark ruby violet color. Very dense nose of cassis, anise, and toast, with floral and shoe polish notes. Big chewy mouthfeel of almost sweet and sour fruit. Smooth throughout the palate, leading to a massive long finish. Aroma score: A- Taste score: A- Overall score: A-
1996 Vinoce Mt. Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon - Napa Valley.$39.99. Dark garnet ruby color. Nose of buttered squaw-bread toast, cassis, and anise. Very ripe mouthfeel, with lots of toasted oak and anise flavors. Quite ripe, but otherwise very good balance, and long finish. Aroma score: A- Taste score: A- Overall score: A-
1996 Flora Springs Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon - Napa Valley. $69.99. Sweet/sour cassis fruit and cedar-infused nose. Other aromas of anise, tar, and toast. Slightly tart cassis fruit, lots of toast, tannins and acids to help with aging. A nice wine, but it's overpriced. Aroma score: A- Taste score: A- Overall score: A-
Overall impressions: this mostly '97 Cab flight offered up a few of the remaining '96s, with mixed results. Of those '96s, the Vinoce was impressive, and surprisingly ripe; the Flora Springs appeared about on par with previous vintages; the Silver Oak seemed more underripe than not, and was fairly ho-hum. There were some very nice '97s in the group, with the Corison being the standout. I liked this wine better than her '96, which was a softer wine. The riper style of the Vine Cliff was also appealing. Of the "haven't seen 'em before" wines, the McKenzie-Mueller Cab had a great nose, slightly less so mouth; and the Wolf Family has turned out a very tasty Cab. The Cafaro is another nice wine. But, in the crowded $30 price-point, I can find several others that are just as tasty. (While I liked the Carmenet slightly better than the Wolf, Hanna, or Cafaro, the difference was slight, and I'd frankly buy these others from price alone.)
Disappointments included the Merlots in general, and the Arrowood
in particular. It was okay -- but, just that! And, at $33, it's a definite
"pass" for me. The Stag's Leap was slightly better, but at $28 ...com'n
folks -- it's Merlot. And, there are lots of better Cabs out there
for the same money! Also, I was hoping to find a real nice Cab Franc.
The McKenzie-Mueller CF was nice, with some interesting chocolate
notes. But, the L'Ecosse was just way too green and stemmy. So,
I suppose I'll have to keep looking. Well, someone has to do it!
Here is my relative ranking, by tier and in order of preference, of the wines tasted.
1997 Corison Cabernet Sauvignon - Napa Valley. $43.99.
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