Results from a Cabernet tasting - Saturday, October 30, 1999, at the Wine Exchange in Orange, CA. Twenty-one wines (7 tasted double-blind) were poured for a tasting fee of $39.
The wines, in the order tasted:
'97 Jayson - Napa Valley. $31.99. Dark ruby-garnet color. Nose
of raspberry, shoe polish, cassis, with touches of bread dough and mint.
Mouthfilling sweet fruit; initial grip on palate softens to long smooth
and fleshy finish.
'97 B. R. Cohn Olive Hill - Sonoma Valley. $27.99. Dark
ruby-garnet color. Restrained nose of vanilla and anise, with hints of
geeen olive. Sweet fruit, cassis and licorace flavors, excellent balance,
slightly coarse mouthfeel that does seem to smooth out.
'97 Ravenswood Pickberry - Sonoma Mountain. $26.99. Dark
ruby-garnet color. Minty ripe cassis, toast, anise, and tomato. A touch
porty with obvious alcohol aroma. Sweet fruit, with definite acid backbone,
soft tannins; anise, cassis, and oak flavors. Very good balance, very
long oak-charged finish.
'97 Lewis Cellars Reserve - Napa Valley. $54.99. Dark ruby-garnet
color. Wow, what an aroma! Dense and deep nose of cassis, shoe polish,
black cherry, pepper, and tar. Sweet fruit, tannic mouthfeel, excellent
balance, very long finish. Some real teeth-clinging stuff.
'96 Elyse Morisoli Vnyd - Napa Valley. $35.99. Dark ruby-garnet
color with violet edges. Nose of cassis, bread dough, shoe polish, anise,
toast, with hints of mint, vanilla, and Danish cookie. Scrumptious! Sweet,
slightly soft fruit, obvious tannins, very good balance, smooth mouthfeel,
tannins soften through long finish.
'96 Frog's Leap Rutherford - Napa Valley. $42.99. Dark
ruby-garnet color, with a cherry-cola edge. Very complex nose of cassis,
mint, eucalyptus, toast, celery, and shoe polish. Semi-sweet fruit - even
a bit sweet/sour - flavors of cassis and black cherry, very good balance,
long, slightly sour finish.
'96 Salvestrin - Napa Valley. $34.99. Medium-dark ruby-garnet
color. Nose of cassis, toast, and sweet sawdust. Semi-sweet fruit on the
palate, with good acids and balance, but turns slightly sour on finish.
'96 Altamura - Napa Valley. $47.99. Dark garnet-ruby color. Slightly
herbaceous nose of cassis, celery, blue cheese, toast, with a bit of black
olive and tomato. Sweet-edged fruit, slightly tart and herbaceous fruit,
excellent balance, very long toasty finish. As they say in Minnesota,
"...a fella could do worse."
'96 Pahlmeyer - Napa Valley. $69.99. Dark ruby-garnet color. Nose
of sweet cassis, hints of herbs, shoe polish, anise and blue cheese. Big
mouthfull of semi-sweet fruit, toast, and smooth tannins. Very long finish.
Incredibly smooth and clinging mouthfeel.
'96 B.V. Georges de Latour Reserve - Napa Valley. $55.99.
Dark ruby-garnet color. Sweet and dense nose of toast, cassis, chocolate,
anise, with hint of dill. Sweet fruit, smooth mouthfeel, excellent balance.
The long finish picks up a little tartness at the end.
'96 Oakford - Oakville, Napa Valley. $59.99. Dark ruby-garnet
color. Fascinating nose of cassis, toast, smoke, ash, and gunpowder, with
the vaguest hint of dill. Sweet mouthfeel, smooth, but with nice mid-palate
bite. Very long, smooth and seamless finish. Absolutely delicious!
'95 Kenwood Artist Series - Sonoma Valley. $49.99. Dark
garnet-ruby color. A vaguely tart nose of cassis, anise, toast, and orange
zest. Semi-sweet fruit, chunky mouthfeel. Long finish that seems to get
a bit tart or sour as it goes on.
'95 Lokoya Mt. Veeder - Napa Valley. $89.99. Very dark
garnet-ruby color. Nose of smoky casis, sweet toast, and bacon fat. Fleshy
and tannic mouthfeel, this wine's a bruiser - yet, I cannot look away.
'95 Constant Diamond Mtn Vnyd - Napa Valley. $N/A. Dark
garnet-ruby color. Nose of cassis, shoe polish, sweet licorace, and toast.
Somewhat tart fruit, big tannic mouthfeel, toasty sweet edges.
The following seven wines were tasted double blind:
'96 Moss Wood - Margaret River, Western Australia. $45.99. Dark
garnet-ruby color. Sweet nose of cassis, toast and pepper. Sweet fruit
and mouthfeel. Very good balance and nice toasty finish.
'96 Dalla Valle - Napa Valley. $59.99. Dark garnet-ruby color.
Sweet-smelling nose of cassis, shoe polish, toast, and spices. Sweet ripe
fruit, toast, and spice from entry through latter palate. Fruit-filled
mouthfeel, long balalnced finish, toasty aftertaste. Just gorgeous.
'96 Opus One - Napa Valley. $N/A. Dark ruby-garnet color. Nose
of sweet smoky cassis. Sweet mouthfeel, medium weight, obvious acids,
very long finish with just a hint of coarseness.
'96 Penley Estate - Coonawara, South Australia. $34.99. Very dark
garnet-ruby color. Nose of cassis, dill, tomato, and smoked cheese. Tart
cassis fruit with sharp and angular mouthfeel, smooth long finish.
'96 Araujo Eisele Vnyd - Napa Valley. $N/A. Dark ruby-garnet
color. Nose of smoky sweet cassis, toast, and anise. Semi-sweet fruit,
good mouthfeel, soft acids, smooth long finish.
'97 Justin - Paso Robles. $14.99. Dark ruby-garnet color. Slightly
sharp nose of smoky cassis, lettuce, and herbs. Sweet tannic mouthfeel,
good balance, sweet toasty finish.
'96 Montes Alpha - Chile. $49.99. Dark garnet-ruby color.
Nose of sweet toasty cassis, and smoke. Smells fabulous. Tannic, beet-edged
fruit in the mouth, with obvious acidic backbone. Overall, a nice wine.
Jusat a little too tart on the palate for my liking.
Overall impressions: well, now here's a flight of wines that delivers some disturbing news. My first five favorites were all over $55!! Granted they were all pricey wines anyway. But, craving stuff like this will really put a dent in the old wallet. On an affordable note, the Elyse is a real sleeper, especially in this company. It was just beautiful, and at $36 (it kills me to say this), it's a relative bargain. But I suppose the Justin is the real bargain - a Paso Robles Cab that fit into the tasting quite well. At $15 it's a real nice drink.
Disappointment or surprises? It seemed to me that tart or sour fruit
kept many wines from reaching their full potential. For instance, I certainly
expected more out of the Penley Estate. Usually this wine can be
counted upon for ripe sweet fruit. Ditto the Frog's Leap Rutherford,
which promised a lot with its terrific and ripe nose, but didn't deliver
in the mouth.
Here is my relative ranking, by tier and in order of preference, of the wines tasted.
'96 Dalla Valle - Napa Valley. $59.99.
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