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2008 Justin Cabernet Sauvignon Paso Robles

There are different types of “very good” when it comes to wine. Some wines inspire conversation. Some tell you a long and interesting story, after years of bottle age. Others are coyly complex; they demand, but reward, keen focus. And then there are wines that you know are good because the glasses — and the bottle — empty so quickly.

Justin Winery’s 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon falls into the latter category. It’s easy to understand, easy to like and easy to drink. The wine doesn’t require elaborate decanting rituals, vigorous swirling or a just-so food pairing. And it doesn’t go through quiet periods in your glass over the course of an evening.

This Justin Cabernet Sauvignon is an American wine. I don’t mean that it’s made in America, though it clearly was. I mean that it reminds me of those (positive) stereotypes we hear about Americans. We’re friendly and open, ready to strike up a conversation with anyone. We’ll share details about ourselves that people from other countries might not divulge to anyone but their therapist. We’re cheerful, hedonistic and more physical than intellectual. Or so the theory goes... And all of those descriptors are apt for this wine.

I and a small band of tasters tried the 2008 Justin Cabernet Sauvignon blind in a flight of four Northern California Cabs. The wines were chosen randomly from the wines I had available to review. Price was not a factor in selecting the wines, nor in rating them. All of the wines turned out to be very good, but each was different in style from all of the others.

The Justin Cabernet was notable in several respects. Unlike the other wines, it showed mostly red fruit as opposed to black. It was the prettiest and most feminine of the wines. It was also the smoothest texturally and the most friendly. Hours after the tasting/evaluation was done and dinner was at hand, Justin’s was the wine I wanted to drink.

This Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon was also the hands-down winner in value. It was $100 less than the most expensive bottle and just over two-thirds the price of the other two. Yet, on a “points” basis, it was dead even with two of the wines and finished just 2.5 points below the best. The 2008 Justin Cabernet Sauvignon is an excellent value.

Now that I’ve described the wine, let me describe the wine. It’s bright ruby red — like Dorothy’s shoes in the Wizard of Oz. The nose is an outgoing blend of red cherry, red currant, mint, cinnamon, caramel and carob. The wine is dry on the palate, though its juicy fruit creates the illusion of sweetness while also making your mouth water. The body is medium-plus with creamy texture, but also drying tannins that provide balance and structure. The notable flavors include red cherry, raspberry candy and vanilla.

The 2008 Justin Cabernet Sauvignon Paso Robles is a very good, fruit-centric wine. It will benefit from one or two years of bottle age, but is drinking well now. Decanting isn’t required, nor did extended aeration change the wine very much. There are enough tannins, fruit and acidity to allow the wine to evolve for several years in bottle, but that really isn’t what this wine is about. I would drink it over the next five years while it’s young and yummy. Highly Recommended.


2008 Justin Cabernet Sauvignon Paso Robles
Rating: Highly Recommended
Drink: Now through 2018
Release Date: June 1, 2010

Retail Price: $26.25
Blend: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Origin: 100% Paso Robles
Aging: 17 months in American oak, 28% new
Alcohol: 14.5%

Closure: Cork

The wine above was purchased for review. It was tasted blind in a flight of four Cabernet Sauvignon wines from Napa Valley and Paso Robles. All wines were quickly double-decanted before tasting and then re-tasted four and twenty-four hours later.

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This article is original to Copyright 2011 NorCal Wine. All rights reserved.