Results from a Cab tasting - Saturday, May 6, 2000, at the Wine Exchange in Orange, CA. Twenty wines were poured for a tasting fee of $29.
The wines, in the order tasted:
1996 Justin Cabernet Franc - Paso Robles. $23.99. Medium dark
ruby garnet color. Off-sweet nose of cranberry/blueberry. Vanilla, black
cherry and cranberry flavors. A bit coarse on the palate with a slightly
1997 Bookwalter Cabernet Sauvignon - Columbia Valley, WA. $18.99.
Dark ruby garnet color. Nose of cassis, oak, pepper, leaf and resin. Woody,
leafy taste, with decent fruit and good coverage. long oaky finish.
1997 Pietra Santa Cabernet Sauvignon - Cienega Valley. $16.99.
Dark garnet ruby color. Nose of vanilla, cassis, and toast. Oaky, and
slightly sinewy initial mouthfeel, but it starts to get plush at mid-palate
and smooths out to a medium-long finish, though fruit trails off a bit.
1997 Sequoia Grove Cabernet Sauvignon - Napa Valley. $19.99. Medium
dark ruby garnet color. Nose of vanilla and cassis, with barest hint of
under ripeness. A bit sparse in mouthfeel, with off-sweet fruit, vanilla
and toast. Slightly tart finish.
1997 Mount Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon - Napa Valley. $27.99. Medium
dark ruby garnet color. Herbaceous nose with additional aromas of vanilla,
cassis, and beet. Off-sweet cassis fruit that gets a bit tight, oaky and
green on after palate. Good structure and tannins carry through long finish.
1997 Groth Cabernet Sauvignon - Napa Valley. $32.99. Medium dark
garnet color. Slightly restrained nose, but definitely herbaceous with
cassis, oak, and vanilla notes. Off-sweet/tart mouthfeel initially, but
flavors sweeten up and fills out at mid-palate. Medium-long finish of
cassis, toast, and vanilla.
1997 Fife Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve - Napa Valley. $35.99.
Dark garnet ruby color. Herbaceous nose, with notes of leaf, shoe
polish, vanilla, and cassis. Sweet cassis and smooth tannins in mouthfeel,
with a toasty, chewy vanilla-laced finish. Very nice.
1997 Judd's Hill Cabernet Sauvignon - Napa Valley. $39.99. Medium
dark ruby garnet color. Nose of shoe polish, vanilla, cassis, and cranberry.
Slightly tart and tannic, though smooth mouthfeel. Lots of fruit; very
long finish. Seems like it's put together well, just a little too tart
for my tastes.
1997 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon SLD - Napa Valley. $37.99.
Dark garnet ruby color. Tart, leafy herbaceous nose of cassis, oak,
and vanilla. Semi-sweet mouthfeel, good cassis fruit, massively chalky
taste, with a toasty chalky finish.
1996 Flora Springs Cabernet Sauvignon Wild Boar Vnyd - Napa
Valley. $36.99. Dark garnet ruby color. Slightly restrained nose of
cassis and shoe polish, with additional notes of stemminess and candied
ginger. Big mouthfeel, with flavors of cassis, vanilla, and oak. Very
chocolatey/coffee taste, with smooth tannins, and long oak-driven finish.
The following wines were served single blind:
1996 Gallo Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Frei Ranch - Sonoma
Co. $22.99. Medium dark garnet ruby color. Sweet, toasty, smoky, and
leafy/beet nose. Off-sweet mouthfeel, big and chewy, with toasty tannins,
and long finish.
1997 Ehler's Grove Cabernet Sauvignon Mt. Veeder - Napa Valley.
$34.99. Dark ruby color. Very nice nose of sweet cassis, vanilla,
shoe polish, and floral notes. Sweet mouthfeel, chewy cassis fruit, with
flavors of vanilla and toast. Long tasty finish.
1997 Sena - Aconcagua Valley, Chile. $41.99. Very dark ruby color.
Nose of shoe polish, beet, anise, and a green or stemmy quality. Slightly
off-sweet cassis-flavored mouthfeel, with leafy and buttery flavors at
1995 Ferrari-Carano Tresor Reserve - Sonoma Co. $49.99.
Dark ruby color. Nose of cassis, toast, oak, cheddar, and chalk. Off-sweet
mouthfeel, good fruit, and long finish. Nice wine, just seemed a bit stemmy/tart.
1997 Majella Cabernet Sauvignon - Coonawara, SA. $24.99. Dark
ruby garnet color. Nose of cassis, toast, leaf and beet. Off-sweet chewy
mouthfeel, medium-long finish, with just a trace of tartness.
1998 Annvers Cabernet Sauvignon - Langhorne Creek, SA. $29.99.
Very dark purple ruby color. Huge nose of bakers chocolate, cassis, black
cherry, vitamins, and cola. Very toasty chocolate and cassis mouthfeel,
slightly tart medium-long finish.
1997 Melka Metisse - Napa Valley. $49.99. Dark ruby garnet color.
Sweet cassis, toast and vanilla nose. Toasty sweet mouthfeel, very smooth
tannins, very long finish.
1997 Lail Vnyds J. Daniel Cuvee - Napa Valley. $69.99.
Very dark ruby color. Slightly restrained nose of cassis, vanilla, and
oak. Lots of cassis in the mouthfeel, with a tasty, complex long finish
1997 Joseph Phelps Insignia - Napa Valley. $84.99. Very
dark ruby color. Dense lush nose of cassis, black cherry, toast, and vanilla.
Sweet black cherry, cassis, vanilla flavors, chewy body, smooth long seamless
1988 Dunn Howell Mtn - Napa Valley. $n/a. Dark garnet color.
Nose of cassis, shoe polish, cedar with touch of mint. Somewhat tart and
acidic mouthfeel, despite the feeling of sweet fruit. medium-long slightly
Overall impressions: well, it appears that all the hype over the Insignia is true ...it's fabulous! It's also $80-85 too! Gee, maybe the new 750 ml bottle with its squatty look and embossed front and rear marking helped boost the price ...NAW! Another winner was the Ehler's Grove . And, it's a bargain in company it's keeping. The Fife Reserve was very good, and is also a relative bargain. Speaking of bargain, the Majella from Australia was very tasty - and only $25.
Surprises here include the Sena and the Mondavi SLD and
the Groth. I expected a whole lot better - especially considering
the price point. The Judd's Hill has always tasted too tart to
me. And, what's up with the Ferrari-Carano Tresor? This really
isn't a $50 wine.
Here is my relative ranking, by tier and in order of preference, of the wines tasted.
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