Search Articles

Please Share

FacebookTwitterDiggDeliciousStumbleuponGoogle BookmarksRedditTechnoratiLinkedin

Sponsors

Wine of the Day via RSS

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Wine of the Day

2007 Mount Veeder Winery Cabernet Sauvignon

Mount Veeder Winery, founded by Michael and Arlene Bernstein, released its first vintage in 1973. It specializes in Bordeaux-varietal wines from the Mount Veeder and Maycamas AVAs. They typically offer Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc varietal wines and a Cabernet Sauvignon reserve.

The winery is now owned by Icon Estates, a division of Constellation. Mount Veeder is a bit off the normal wine country tour route, so tasting for Mount Veeder Winery is at Franciscan in St. Helena. The two wineries also have the same winemaker, Janet Myers.

The 2007 Mount Veeder Winery Cabernet Sauvignon came out on top in a blind  tasting of four Cabernet Sauvignon wines I did recently. This wine has a dark ruby color and generous aromas of black currant, caramel, cocoa, dark spice and smoke. I got a little red rope too. The body is medium-plus with strong and grippy tannins that are chalky in texture and dry the mouth; pretty much what you’d expect from a Mount Veeder AVA Cabernet Sauvignon. That said, the wine’s fruit is juicy, so the finish is slightly mouth-watering rather than parched. Flavors include black cherry, black currant, leaves, dusty trail and dry cedar.

The 2007 Mount Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon is a very good wine. As a blend, it doesn’t really offer clear and specific terroir. However, it did bring to mind a mountain hike with periodic stops to eat wild berries. That works for me. You can drink it now with vigorous decanting and a juicy ribeye steak. I would prefer to let it accumulate three to five years of bottle age though. It will easily last through 2020. Highly Recommended.

2007-mount-veeder-winery-cabernet-sauvignon

2007 Mount Veeder Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
Rating: Highly Recommended
Drink: Now through 2020
Retail Price: $40.00
Blend: 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot, 2% Syrah, 1% Malbec
Origin: Napa Valley

Aging: 20 months in French oak barrels

Alcohol: 14.5%

Closure: Cork

The wine above was provided for review. It was tasted blind in a flight of four predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines from California. All wines were quickly double-decanted before tasting and then re-tasted four hours later.

If you enjoyed this article, please share it! Icons for popular sharing services are at the right above and also below.

Follow NorCalWine on Twitter for breaking wine news, information on events and more. Become a fan and join the NorCal Wine community on FacebookAlso check out our comprehensive Northern California winery listings. They are very useful for planning a tasting trip or just getting in touch with a winery.

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

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

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.

If you enjoyed this article, please share it! Icons for popular sharing services are at the right above and also below.

Follow NorCalWine on Twitter for breaking wine news, information on events and more. Become a fan and join the NorCal Wine community on FacebookAlso check out our comprehensive Northern California winery listings. They are very useful for planning a tasting trip or just getting in touch with a winery.

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

2007 Frog’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

There is a lot of chatter these days about California wineries exercising more restraint. Indeed, whether the varietal be red or white — Cabernet, Syrah, Chardonnay or Pinot — it does seem that many winemakers are looking for flavors beyond fruit and alcohol below 14%. It may be fashion. It may be a response to the demands of some critics or a backlash against others. And some winemakers are simply changing styles in response to their own developing palates. But all this talk about a return to elegance could lead people to forget that some wineries never abandoned elegance in the first place.

There are more than a few California wines or wineries for which finesse has always been the rule. Ridge Monte Bello, about which I wrote last week, has been elegant and age-worthy from it’s very first vintage. Others who have almost always made wines in this manner include Clos du Val, Chateau Montelena, Corison Winery and Dominus. There are many more and they are not restricted to Napa Valley.

Wine reflects terroir with more detail if flavors other than primary fruit and those derived from oak are allowed to show through. However, sense of place is far from the only reason for making “old school” wine. Appellation blends benefit no less from such treatment than do single-vineyard wines. They are better accompaniments for a meal and age better. Lower alcohol is better for the health of the drinker. They can also be easier to drink when young, assuming that the grape or growing region isn’t one that naturally produces extreme tannins.

The 2007 Frog’s Leap Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is a great example. The winery, founded in 1982 by John Williams who remains at its helm, is well-known for both the “timeless” style of its wines and their commitment to sustainable and organic agriculture. In this particular wine, there is balance between fruit and alcohol that wasn’t achieved by dialing up the fruit but rather by keeping the alcohol moderate. There is also balance between fruit-driven and savory flavors. It is a satisfying wine, but neither thickly textured nor loudly expressive. It is not the life of the party. It is someone you could talk to all night.

It is also a wine that is not embarrassed by its parents. Cabernet Sauvignon is the offspring of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. Both of those varieties have distinctly herbal characteristics. It should be no surprise that Cabernet Sauvignon does as well. These notes do not indicate an under-ripe wine; green bell pepper and green tannins would be markers for that.

Deep ruby in color, yet not opaque, this Frog’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon offers aromas of black currant, black cherry, currant leaf, dry eucalyptus and spice. On the palate it has medium-plus body with ripe but drying tannins. The flavors reminded me of a walk through the woods on a Fall day: dry cedar, dry leaves, wild blackberries and a touch of peppery spice in the gentle breeze. You can enjoy the wine now, but will it be best with two or three more years of bottle age. It should develop nicely over the next ten years if well-cellared. Highly Recommended.

2007-frogs-leap-cabernet

2007 Frog’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
Rating: Highly Recommended
Drink: Best 2014 - 2021
Release Date: November, 2009 

Retail Price: $42.00

Blend: 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, 2% Merlot
Origin: Napa Valley
Alcohol: 13.6%

Closure: Cork

The wine above 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 hours later.

If you enjoyed this article, please share it! Icons for popular sharing services are at the right above and also below.

Follow NorCalWine on Twitter for breaking wine news, information on events and more. Become a fan and join the NorCal Wine community on FacebookAlso check out our comprehensive Northern California winery listings. They are very useful for planning a tasting trip or just getting in touch with a winery.

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

1992, 2008 and 2010 Ridge Monte Bello Cabernet Sauvignon Santa Cruz Mountains

Yesterday, I attended the annual Ridge Monte Bello Assemblage tasting held at their Monte Bello Estate winery high in the mountains above Cupertino. At the event, Monte Bello futures buyers taste what is close to the final blend for the wine that will be released two years hence. Ridge makes the day even more interesting though.They also offer tastes of some of the component wines, the Monte Bello being released to futures buyers on that day (in this case 2008), and of an older vintage as well.

Yesterday was overcast and drizzly at the winery, but attendees were quickly cheered with a starter glass of 2007 Monte Bello Chardonnay. Some folks might have preferred a cup of hot coffee at that moment, but the Chardonnay offered crisp flavors of apple and pear that made me think of warm summer days. And, since I had already downed a grande bone-dry cappuccino, the juicy white wine was just the thing to prepare my palate for the upcoming reds.

Tasting the 2010 Monte Bello Components
The 2010 Monte Bello assemblage was nearly complete yesterday, according to winemaker Eric Baugher. It may even turn out to be the final blend. However, it would be barely possible — and likely unwise — to let folks try every one of the components. Baugher creates Ridge Monte Bello from more than 20 different single-varietal, single-block wines. Tasting through all of those would confuse, rather than enlighten, most people. Instead, Ridge provided a taste of one component each from the Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot available. They were chosen to provide a snapshot of how each variety fared during the vintage and what they would contribute to the cuvée.

The first taste was Merlot from the Bowl Block. It was purple with deeply pigmented legs and aromas of dusty cherries, chocolate and hints of currant leaf. It had chalky tannins and medium-plus body with black fruit and currant leaf flavors.

Next up was a component that hadn’t actually make it into the blend yet, Cabernet Franc from the Rousten Ranch Cheval Block. When you think of Cabernet Franc, you probably look to juicy raspberry and/or black current leaf aromas and flavors. I did find some red fruit on the palate, but the dominant aromas and flavors were of mouth-watering smoky summer sausage. I’d have been happy to drink a glass or two of the Cabernet Franc with a meal, but I can see how it might have too much personality for the blend. Perhaps it will wind up in a single-varietal ATP wine.

Cabernet Sauvignon from the Fosters Block and Petit Verdot from the Olivos Block were the final components poured. Both are opaque ruby-purple in the glass with inky tears. The Cabernet Sauvignon offered rich black currant accented by eucalyptus and black currant leaf. The alcohol percentage was just 13.2%, fairly typical for Monte Bello. The Petit Verdot was also focused on black fruit but added dark cocoa powder on the nose and a soupcon of black licorice with caramel on the palate.

2010 Ridge Monte Bello Cabernet Sauvignon March 1 Assemblage
The three components poured showed a clear direction for the 2010 Monte Bello: juicy, perfectly ripe dark fruit topped with a scattering of eucalyptus and black currant leaves. The blend showed exactly that. As you would expect, it is a much more polished and complex wine, even now, than any of the individual components. There are layers of black and purple fruit, ranging from black currant and black cherry to huckleberry. They more than balance the herbaceous notes. The alcohol percentage is about 13.5% and the tannins are chalky but very reasonable for a wine that still has a year of barrel-time ahead of it.

Every Northern California winemaker I’ve spoken with has said 2010 was a difficult year. For some, sunburn caused substantial loss of fruit. For others rain and rot caused problems. I don’t know what the yields were for Ridge, nor how many bottles they’ll be able to produce. However, it looks like 2010 will be another classic vintage for Ridge Monte Bello. Since the blend isn’t necessarily final, it’s too early to formally rate the wine but it looks to be on track for at least Highly Recommended.

1992 Ridge Monte Bello Cabernet
To show the aging capability of Ridge Monte Bello reds, the winery pulled out a bunch of 375ml bottles of 1992. This is a wine that has been very popular with critics and consumers since it’s release. In early 1995, Robert Parker suggested it was “one of the greatest examples of Monte Bello Cabernet Sauvignon Ridge has produced” and suggested it would age 30 to 35 years. The wine is certainly following that trajectory.

The half-bottles, which age more rapidly than standard 750ml bottles, are drinking beautifully right now but can last for quite some time. I was told that Ridge thinks the full bottles have another 5 years to go before reaching their peak. I believe a long plateau of good drinking time will follow.

My glass of 1992 Monte Bello was mostly ruby in color but faded to garnet at the rim. The nose engaged me with a complex mix of primary, secondary and tertiary aromas. It started with the dusty, pencil lead and cedar aromas of an aged wine, but stewed cherry and red currant jam soon followed. Behind that were chocolate and fall leaves. All in all, the nose reminded me of eating a jelly sandwich at my grade school desk on a rainy Fall day. For me, that was a good thing.

In the mouth, the 1992 is still very juicy and the tannins remain somewhat chalky. Dark berry and black cherry flavors mingle with cedar. I bought four of the 375ml bottles based on the tasting and will drink them over the next 5+ years. Very Highly Recommended.

2008 Ridge Monte Bello
Fortified by the 1992, I walked out into the mist and down to the main tasting room to sample the 2008 Ridge Monte Bello. Nosing the dark ruby pool of wine in my glass, I found fresh blackberry and black cherry wrapped delicately in chocolate. Juicy dark fruit predominated on the palate too and led to an extremely long finish. The tannins are dusty but approachable. I was very happy to be taking some home. You can drink this wine now, even without decanting, or lay it down for 15+ years. Very Highly Recommended.

92-monte-bello

1992 Ridge Monte Bello Cabernet Sauvignon California
Rating: Very Highly Recommended

Drink: Now through 2020
Bottled: April, 1994

Retail Price: $200 - $275

Blend: 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot
Origin: Santa Cruz Mountains
Alcohol: 13.5%

Closure: Cork

2008 Ridge Monte Bello Santa Cruz Mountains
Rating: Very Highly Recommended

Drink: Now through 2025+
Bottled: June, 2010, not yet released to the public
Retail Price:~ $145.00

Blend: 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot
Origin: Santa Cruz Mountains
Alcohol: 13.3%

Closure: Cork

2010 Ridge Monte Bello Santa Cruz Mountains
Rating: Promising

Drink: TBD
Bottling: Spring, 2012
Retail Price: TBD
Blend: TBD
Origin: Santa Cruz Mountains
Alcohol: TBD
Closure: Cork, presumably

If you enjoyed this article, please share it! Icons for popular sharing services are at the right above and also below.

Follow NorCalWine on Twitter for breaking wine news, information on events and more. Become a fan and join the NorCal Wine community on FacebookAlso check out our comprehensive Northern California winery listings. They are very useful for planning a tasting trip or just getting in touch with a winery.

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

2007 Ispiri Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley

Ispiri is a small-production label currently offering two wines made from grapes grown on Pine Mountain in Alexander Valley (northern Sonoma County). Both wines are made from Bordeaux-variety grapes. One is predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon and the other, Maylena, mostly Merlot. The first vintage for Ispiri was 2005. Both that and the 2006 bottlings received some critical acclaim, but my first opportunity to taste Ispiri is with the 2007s reviewed below.

The wines are made in Sonoma by winemaker Leslie Sisneros who is also a partner in the winery. She has been making wine from Sonoma fruit for more than 20 years. Ispiri is her chance to make wines that express her preferences. The winery doesn’t have a cellar door or tasting room, but its wines are available online, through a few retailers and at some restaurants. See their website for availability.

The 2007 Ispiri Cabernet is dark ruby with a nose of black currant and cherry, coffee, dry leaves and some caramel and vanilla from the oak. On the palate it offers medium plus body and tannins. The latter are drying, appropriate for such a young Cabernet Sauvignon, but smooth out with an hour or so in the glass. Flavors include black currant, currant leaf, spice and a touch of dry stem. The Ispiri Cabernet Sauvignon is very good now but should gain both smoothness and greater complexity with three to five years in bottle. Drink now through 2018. Highly Recommended.

2007-Ispiri-Cabernet-Sauvignon
(Please pardon the wine stains...)

2007 Ispiri Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley
Rating: Highly Recommended

Drink: Now through 2018
Retail Price: $49

Blend: 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot
Origin: Pine Mountain, Alexander Valley (Sonoma County)
Aging: 20 months in 100% French oak, 50% new

Alcohol: 14.8%

Closure: Cork

Production: 470 cases

The Ispiri Maylena is named after the winemaker’s daughters, Maya and Elena. The 2007 Maylena is 88% Merlot. In the glass, it looks identical to the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon but its aromas are of black currant, plum, kirsch-filled dark chocolate candy and dark spice. The flavors are tart black cherry, Dr. Pepper, a bit of red fruit and very mild dark spice. The wine is lighter bodied than the Cabernet Sauvignon, yet with stronger and slightly grittier tannins. The 2007 Ispiri Maylena is a balanced and elegant, yet fruit-focused, wine that will please fans of Merlot but not convert those who aren't. I would enjoy it with a meal of koobideh and lamb chops on zereshk pollo. Drink now through 2016. Recommended.

2007-Ispiri-Maylena

2007 Ispiri Maylena Alexander Valley
Rating: Recommended
Drink: Now through 2016
Retail Price: $49

Blend: 88% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Sauvignon
Origin: Pine Mountain, Alexander Valley (Sonoma County)

Aging: 20 months in 100% French oak, 50% new

Alcohol: 14.5%

Closure: Cork
Production: 250 cases

The wine above was provided for review by the winery. It was tasted blind in a flight of six Bordeaux-variety wines from Napa Valley and Sonoma County. All wines were quickly double-decanted before tasting and then re-tasted four and twenty-four hours later.

If you enjoyed this article, please share it! Icons for popular sharing services are at the right above and also below.

Follow NorCalWine on Twitter for breaking wine news, information on events and more. Become a fan and join the NorCal Wine community on FacebookAlso check out our comprehensive Northern California winery listings. They are very useful for planning a tasting trip or just getting in touch with a winery.

This article is original to NorCalWine.com. Copyright 2010 NorCal Wine. All rights reserved.