Tag Archives: Cabernet Sauvignon

A Perfect Wine – 100 Points!

PlumpJack Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, Blocks I and J, McWilliams Oakville Vineyard,PlumpJack Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 Napa Valley, 2013

Why is it that we don’t find many wines that we would rate perfect?  Because the journey from bud break to harvest and harvest to release is complicated with all kinds of decisions — some that must follow a scientific path and so many that are the judgments of an artist at work in both the vineyard and winery.  Let’s explore a wine that we would rate at 100 points.  If you get to taste one, you will be most fortunate. 

This PlumpJack Cabernet Sauvignon opened with an explosion of aromas presented in perfect harmony.  There was no indication that one element was out of balance with the other volatile elements.   This is seldom achieved.  At the same time, the harmony of flavors did not destroy an unmistakable example of Californian Cabernet Sauvignon — truly varietal. 

Inspection of the color, clarity, and brilliance of the wine revealed a deeply opaque core and a brilliant, ruby rim with no indications of any visible issues that would immediately downgrade it.  Of course, no Brett, VA, or other defects were detectable.  Very intense aromas of black currant, blackberry, and blueberry on a backdrop of vanilla, licorice and spice in a perfect marriage of flavors jumped to greet me.  It was truly impressive. 

The taste was where the wine began to distinguish itself and claim its right to an expression of perfection.  It’s attack on the palate was as soft as the feeling of falling into a feather pillow.  The wine’s full luxuriant body was dense, rich, and layered with fruit.  Each wine should announce its character and this one did as it coated the palate, refusing to fade, making the gustatory feeling one to remember.  Fixed and volatile elements were in good balance. And then on the finish, once again it clothed the back palate with a coating of sheer pleasure that was, oh, so fulfilling.  This rich character was also cleansing in its own way and smooth as silk. 

Could I find just one indiscretion, one hint of a fault or suggestion it could be better?  No, not really.  But the absence of a fault does not make a great wine.  It was what it was, what it offered; it was so much fuller and complete than your expectations could imagine.  That was its greatness.  At last, those tannins — unmistakeable, but fine and delicate in texture and already fully integrated — added their forecast of years ahead.  There was no way I could disagree with Robert Parker’s evaluation. 

Rating 100 points

Emotional rating:  Wine heaven

Available — Sold out. 

See Why Napa Can Be So Good!

Duckhorn 2008 Cab Sauv

Duckhorn 2008 Cabernet SauvignonWith grilled steak, this wine is heaven!  On its own, it is a perfect example of why Cabernet Sauvignon is King of the red grapes.  Napa Valley can claim this one with pride.  It is all Napa: rich, full, velvety, balanced, and complex.

With grilled steak, this wine is heaven!  On its own, it is a perfect example of why Cabernet Sauvignon is King of the red grapes.  Napa Valley can claim this one with pride.  It is all Napa: rich, full, velvety, balanced, and complex.

Black currant lives here, wafting from the glass, filling the mouth with its contrasting elements and resting long on the finish.   Some meatiness, leather, and layers of oak flavors fused with the rich fruit and the lively touches of anise make it memorable and distinct.  It’s not just another Cab.

This wine is worthy of a 94 or even 96!  It scores high on all the measures of quality and I find it hard to discover anything that would make me want to downgrade it from classic.  It is certainly a classic example of a Cabernet Sauvignon in its prime.  The wine can last much longer, but why wait when it offers such stellar rewards now.

There’s not much more to be said about this wine except, hurry up and enjoy it!

Rodney Strong’s Rich, Full Cabernet Sauvignon

Rodney Strong, Knight’s Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, 2013

Rodney Strong Cab Sauv 2013

Rodney Strong Cab Sauv 2013

A deep, fully extracted Cab that signals a rich, full wine.  Does it have life?  It does!  Immediately, the freshness of the acids are evident.  The depth of blackberry and the liveliness of blackcurrant’s green edge with loads of plum make for a great display of dark, fresh fruit.

The oak is clearly evident, as is typical of Cabernets from Rodney Strong.  Leather, licorice, smoke, and savory notes, overlaying hints of earth, make for a nice complexity.

This wine’s vibrant acids give the impression of an out-of-balance wine.  But it all depends on style and food with which it is paired.  This mature Cab will cut through fats and stand up to very rich foods.  Make your decision as to whether you like this fresh acid character on a full, mature base in your Cabernet.  The tannins and the acids promise development and longevity beyond what the price would indicate.

Rating: 90

Emotional rating:  With food, this is a great experience.  Design your full-flavored dish and your emotions will sing.

Availability:  Widely available.


Priest Ranch 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon

Priest Ranch 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon

Priest Ranch 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon

Somerston Estate, Napa Valley California

This wine is a perfect example of a wine that has not as yet flowered but is showing its depth of possibilities.  It is intriguing at this stage of its life.  Don’t you love how wines age and develop?  You know something has to be there and you can taste its complexity but everything is still struggling to be released.

Priest Ranch has a history dating back to 1869!  But its location tells the story of this wine emphatically.  As opposed to wines from the Napa Valley floor, this one shows the soils and altitude distinctive of the eastern mountains that fringe the valley floor.

Smoke and coffee, a blend of blackcurrant and blackberry, and deep, dark flavors that make for a heavier feel on the palate combine with a firm and strong backbone that is also muscular.  A tell-tale, gravelly feel and the taste of the minerals in the hills would make it hard to mistake as from the valley floor.  Make no mistake.  This is a wine with great potential development.  Lay this one down for at least 10 years and wait for its complexity and flavors to develop. It is still closed but promises to open.  Many Bordeaux reds will display the characteristics of this wine when in their youth.

Rating: 93+

Emotional rating:  High if you want a powerful muscular red but most of its pleasures lie ahead.

Availability:  Distributed by Classic Wines to stores and restaurants.

Colorado’s Garett Estate — Unusual Red Blend: “Pheasant Run Red, 2012”

Garett Estate Winery’s Pheasant Run Red, 2012.

Garrett - Pheasant Run Red 2012

Garrett – Pheasant Run Red 2012

A blend of Syrah and Merlot is not found in every winery.  There are indications that in the very early days of Bordeaux, wines from upriver and from the Rhone (Syrah) was blended with the Bordeaux varietals.  Hence this blend is not new.  Many Cabernet Sauvignons in the New World are blended today with Syrah and in most cases with other varieties as well.  Merlot does not feature as often with Syrah and certainly not as a common blend.  Therefore, this is a wine to experience since the flavors of the two grapes combine to produce a dark fruit and evident oak background in which the blend of flavors is the dominant effect.  The Merlot mellows the characteristics of the Syrah.

It is an everyday, quaffable wine and, for the price, a good buy — especially if you like a red that reminds you of the heavy rustic variety of wine.  This wine will stain your teeth!  Little acid shows up initially, but it comes through on the finish giving you a final cleansing effect that is so good when matching it with rich meats.  A background of dark fruit climaxes in a medium acid finish that is fresh and mouthwatering.  Warm tones, like chords in a closely knit harmony, reflect the warmth of the site on which the grapes are grown.  A commendable table wine.

Rating: 85

Emotional rating:  A warm winter wine that leaves a happy wallet.

Available:  Distributed in Colorado.