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Wine of the Day: 2008 JUSTIN Cabernet Sauvignon Paso Robles

After a brief hiatus due to a schedule that didn’t allow for careful, blind tasting of wine, we’re back with our daily wine reviews. First up is the 2008 JUSTIN Cabernet Sauvignon Paso Robles. I tasted this in a blind flight of six Cabernet Sauvignon wines from Northern California. Most of the wines were between $20 and $30. One was at $10 and the final wine, the review for which will appear tomorrow, will sell for well over $100 upon release. Of the reasonably priced wines, the JUSTIN was by far the best. It was also more accessible, with or without decanting, than the high-priced wine.

The Justin is medium ruby in color with generous aromas of candied cherry, chai spice, cinnamon, vanilla and oak. The palate is very well balanced with medium plus body, alcohol, tannins, intensity of flavor and finish. The flavors are focused on cherry and vanilla with oaky spice joining at mid-palate. The first thing you smell and taste is cherry. However, it is by no means a fruit bomb nor even fruit-forward in the sense that implies simplicity and sometimes excessive sweetness. On the other hand, it isn’t a wine that you need to spend a lot of time thinking about either.

The tannins are smooth and sufficient, but not prominent. This Justin Cabernet Sauvignon is a bit deceiving in that regard. During my initial tasting, I wrote “built for drinking now.” But, after letting the wine sit in the glass for four hours, it had improved slightly. After sitting in the bottle with a fill level below the shoulders for 18 hours, the wine was even the slightest bit better. The balance of the wine masks the strength of it’s structure. Nonetheless, I’m going to give it a somewhat short drinking window to be on the safe side.

The 2008 Justin Cabernet Sauvignon is a food-friendly wine, but does not require food to be enjoyed. It will be versatile for food pairings and fine with any meat or poultry dish that isn’t too spicy or drowning in an acidic tomato sauce. It will also work with grilled salmon and earthy vegetarian dishes. Drink now through 2014. Highly Recommended and a very good value.

2008-Justin-Cabernet-Sauvignon

2008 JUSTIN Cabernet Sauvignon Paso Robles
Rating: Highly Recommended
Drink: Now through 2014
Retail Price: $26.25

Alcohol: 14.5%
Aging: 100% barrel aged for roughly 18 months, 28% new American oak

Closure: Cork

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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 outour 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.

Wine of the Day: 2000 Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select Napa Valley

I was at The Jacksonville Inn on Saturday night thinking rib-eye and looking for an appropriate wine. The Jacksonville Inn is a restaurant, small hotel and wine shop in Jacksonville, Oregon. The proprietor, Jerry Evans, has maintainned excellent wine list for decades and currently offers more than 2,000 different wines. There are many excellent choices on the list at very accessible prices. But, if you have your heart set on a 1945 first-growth Bordeaux, you can find it there. The prices on those are reasonable for a restaurant as well. [The aforementioned Bordeaux will set you back $3,500+, not $15,000+.]

The steak, with a pepper sauce, was calling for something much less delicate than a 65-year old wine though. And my wallet was thinking the same thing. After a good amount of debate between California Cabernet Sauvignon and Australian Shiraz, I went California. I selected the 2000 Shafer Hillside Select for $220. That’s a splurge, but “justifiable” given that retail from the winery on the current release is $215. I’ve tasted Hillside Select on numerous occasions and have a few bottles in the cellar. However, I’d not tried the 2000 and was eager to give it a try.

Shafer Hillside Select is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. The grapes all come from the winery’s Hillside Estate Vineyard in the Stags Leap District of Napa Valley. Shafer holds their Cabernet Sauvignon for roughly four years before release. Typically, the wine spends about three of those years in 100% new French oak barrels.

Shafer HIllside Select is always a powerful wine. The grapes usually reach brix levels in the mid-twenties prior to harvest. This results in alcohol of around 15% and a nearly full-bodied wine. Tannins from the grapes and extended oak treatment balance the rich juice. Pre-release aging ensures that the tannins aren’t excessively grippy and all aspects of the wine are in synch by the time you can get a bottle in your hands. It is a wine that invites further aging in your cellar though.

Wines like Shafer Hillside Select are best enjoyed after extended decanting. In a restaurant though, that’s usually not an option. Given the limited time we had, we opted for pouring the wine fairly aggressively into the decanter to get things started. Fortunately, there was virtually no sediment. In our glasses, the wine was bright ruby, dark but not opaque, and left pigmented legs. We swirled the wine like mad.

The aroma was of medium plus intensity and led by oak and dusty cocoa with a background of cherry. On the palate, the wine approached full body with prominent, powdery tannins, richness from the fruit and 14.8% alcohol. The flavors were pleasing and very similar to the nose: oak, chocolate and cherry.

Overall, the wine was smooth but the oak and tannins are still dominating. When paired with the steak, the tannins were moderated by proteins and the wine became silky and fully balanced. When finishing the wine, roughly 90 minutes after opening it and after the steak was gone, the tannins were once again prominent. The wine is enjoyable to drink on it’s own, but I would recommend either 4 hours of decanting and/or drinking it with red meat to experience it at its best.

It’s often difficult to gauge how wines will age and how tannins will resolve. In some wines, the tannins drop out to expose beautiful fruit. In others, the tannins either don’t resolve or the fruit never emerges. In this case, I’m fairly confident that that the wine will improve with two or three years of additional bottle age. I think that will allow both the oak flavors and tannins to recede a bit, making for better balance and allowing other flavors to shine more. Even now though, the 2000 Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select is a very good wine. Drink now through 2016. Highly Recommended.

2000-Shafer-Hillside-Select

2000 Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select Napa Valley
Rating: Highly Recommended
Drink: Now through 2016
Retail Price: $220 at the Jacksonville Inn wine shop
Blend: 100% Cabernet

Aging: ~ 36 months in 100% French oak, ~ 12 months in bottle

Alcohol: 14.8%

Closure: Cork

The Jacksonville Inn
175 E. California Street
Jacksonville, OR
1-800-321-9344

Disclosure: I worked in the kitchen at The Jacksonville Inn thirty years ago.

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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 outour 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.

Wine of the Day: 1996 Corison Cabernet Sauvignon Kronos Vineyard

When I’m at New Sammy’s Cowboy Bistro in Talent, Oregon, I like to take advantage of their extensive but extremely reasonably priced wine list by drinking great aged wines. The last time I was there, I drank their last bottle of 1982 Chateau Poyferre. I’ve enjoyed some Guigal Cote-Roties and Chave Hermitage from the 80’s there as well. Last Friday night, co-owner and sommelier Vernon Rollins suggested I have the 1996 Corison Cabernet Sauvignon Kronos Vineyard [$95 on his list].

Though Vernon didn’t actually know this when he suggested the wine, I’m very fond of the Cabernet Sauvignons from Corison Winery. [So is he. He told me he’d recently had exactly the same wine with his wife when they celebrated their wedding anniversary.] I’ve tasted many Corison wines at the winery and various industry events, finding them to be refined and well-structured with complex and very appealing flavors. The wines I’ve had in the 7 - 10 year-old range had developed very well. However, I’d never tried one as old as the ’96, nor had the opportunity to sit down and enjoy a bottle with dinner.

The wine was made entirely from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, picked from 25-year old vines in the Kronos Vineyard which lies on the benchland between Rutherford and St. Helena. Vernon decanted it for us to separate the sediment, but the wine was open and accessible from the start. The romantic restaurant lighting wasn’t ideal for checking the wine’s color, though it looked to be an opaque ruby leaning toward garnet. Aromas included braised plum and black currant, mineral and a touch of earthy spice. Flavors resembled the aroma with a touch of prune, reminiscent of Dr. Pepper, and very dark chocolate making an appearance too. There is still some oak in the flavor as well, but it is light and adds complexity rather than being a focal point.

The 1996 Corison Kronos Vineyard is firm, yet delicate, on the palate. There is great balance between the well-integrated tannins, acidity, alcohol (which is just 12.8%) and fruit. It’s silky mouthfeel and body, just short of medium plus, made it an ideal companion for our meals. [I had braised goat with spinach and very fluffy goat cheese gnocchi and my wife had lamb chops on risotto and chick peas with Moroccan spice, both were delicious.] It is not a wine that requires food to moderate the tannins however. It was very enjoyable after the food was gone, seemed to be getting even more interesting as the evening progressed, and we were very sorry when it was gone. It’s an outstanding wine. Drink now through 2015. Very Highly Recommended.

1996-Corison-Kronos

1996 Corison Cabernet Sauvignon Kronos Vineyard

Rating: Very Highly Recommended

Drink: Now through 2015
Retail Price: $200 at the Corison Winery online store

Blend: 100% Cabernet
Aging: 100% French oak, 50% new

Alcohol: 12.8%

Closure: Cork

New Sammy's Cowboy Bistro
2210 S. Pacific Hwy
Talent, OR 97540
(541) 535-2779

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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 outour 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.

2007 HALL Cabernet Sauvignon “Jack’s Masterpiece”

Hall Wines' vineyards are certified organic (CCOF) and their winery on Hwy. 29 in St. Helena was first in the state to be LEED Gold Certified. When you pull into their parking lot, the first parking spots you see are reserved for carpools and electric vehicles. Aside from being good citizens, Hall makes themselves popular by keeping their tasting room open until 5:30. That’s 30 to 90 minutes longer than most Napa Valley wineries. And, they have a nice picnic area that’s a short walk through the fields to Dean & Deluca’s take-out counter.

None of this would matter much if Hall didn’t also make good wine. Fortunately, a recent tasting there made it clear that there is much to like in their lineup. There were a lot of very good wines, but my favorite wine that afternoon was the 2007 HALL Cabernet Sauvignon Jack’s Masterpiece. The wine is not yet available for purchase but is due for a May release.

The wine’s very dark ruby color is matched by the darkness of it’s fruit. Black currant, blackberry and dark cherry aromas are embellished by spice, chocolate and maraschino cherry. The palate is rich but shows good balance of alcohol, fruit and tannins. Flavors of chocolate, black cherry liqueur and sweet black currant make this a sensuous wine that can stand on it’s own or pair with braised short ribs or lamb shank. Drink now through 2018. Very highly recommended.

hall-wines-entrance

2007 HALL Cabernet Sauvignon “Jack’s Masterpiece”
Rating: Very Highly Recommended
Drink: Now through 2018
Retail Price: ~$70 (due to be released in May, club members get first rights)
Blend: 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot, 1% Malbec, 1% Cabernet Franc
Vineyards: A blend of estate vineyards, mostly Bergfeld
Aging: 22 months in French oak, 65% new
Closure: Cork
Alcohol: 14.5%

This wine is not yet released and was tasted at the winery.

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

2005 St. Clement Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon “Oroppas” Napa Valley

Oroppas is a blend of what St. Clement believes to be the best Napa Valley Bordeaux-varietal fruit available to them. The wine has been produced since 1991 and has reviewed consistently well. The 2005 St. Clement Oroppas includes Cabernet Sauvignon from Diamond Mountain, Howell Mountain, Mount Veeder and valley floor vineyards in Rutherford and St. Helena. The Merlot came from Rutherford’s Star Vineyard.

Dark ruby in color, the wine’s initial aromas are of blackberry, black currant, coffee beans and smoke. Vanilla and caramel emerge after a few minutes in the glass. The body is very creamy with robust tannins that have a clay-powder mouthfeel. Dark fruit leads the flavors, complemented by milk chocolate, and both remain through the finish.

At 14.8% alcohol, this is a hefty wine, but it is well-balanced. The alcohol is perceived only in the rich body and is tempered by the tannic structure. The attractive flavors have good concentration and also show good balance between fruit and the other elements. Decanting for several hours did not change the wine significantly.

The Oroppas’ flavors and texture would match well with crispy 5-spice pork belly. If you prefer something a bit less unctuous, I drank the remainder of this bottle at Farmstead Restaurant in St. Helena and it went well with my lean pork chop and my friends’ short rib risotto. [Very good restaurant, but order carefully. The portion sizes are substantial.] Drink now through 2015. Highly recommended.

oroppas-2005

2005 St. Clement Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon “Oroppas” Napa Valley
Rating: Highly Recommended
Drink: Now through 2015
Retail Price: $65
Blend: 93% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot
Aging: 19 months in 50% new French oak barrels
Closure: Cork
Alcohol: 14.8%

This wine was purchased for review.

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