2002 Blind California Cabernet tasting-Liquid Assets

Got together with a group at Liquid Assets here in LA for a great tasting of top notch Napa Cabs. The Lineup:

Sloan Proprietary Red

Harlan Estate

Araujo Estate Eisele

Joseph Phelps Insignia

Paul Hobbs Beckstoffer To Kalon

Peter Michael Les Pavots

Caymus Special Select


Bond Melbury

Bryant Family

Hundred Acre Kayli Morgan

Shafer Hillside Select

A few others were thrown into the mix as well:


Verite La Joie

Cht. Montelena


And to end things, an amazing bottle of 1923 Chateau D’Yquem.

Not too many notes from my end-but I’m hoping others will chime in. All were tasted in a blind setting with a catered dinner…some were decanted early in the day while others opened about 1 hour before dinner…because of this, many were very tight upon first tasting them but they did open up quite a bit with some time.

A. Very tight upon tasting, with a tart finish. This had really improved after an hour or so.

B. Lots of cedar, a full bodied wine with high tannin levels and alcohol. Again, really improved with time.

C. I really did not like this as it had a very medicinal taste and really did not change with time.

D. A full bodied wine with oak prevalent, very drinkable and smoother than the others.

E. I liked this one-while tannic and tight at the beginning it really opened up-I enjoyed the eucalyptus scents in this one.

F. Not too many notes on this other than remember that it was also very tannic.

G. Very open and drinkable. A blend.

Wine of this flight: for me it was E. The wines turned out to be:


B-Harlan Estate


D-Caymus Special Select

E-Phelps Insignia

F-Paul Hobbs To Kalon

G-Dominus Estate

Next up:

H. Also like G, this was very open and enjoyable. I liked it.

I. Really liked this-the minerality and graphite notes were great.

J. Was put off a bit on this as the tannin level was very high.

K. Very concentrated, a blend. Really good. I thought this was Dominus.

L. Wonderfull. had strong tannic spine and was full of very concentrated fruit.

M. Another great wine, very full and enjoyable. Preferred the I and L over this.

N.Very concentrated, tannic yet smooth.

Wines of the flight: I, L, N

The wines:

H-Bryant Family

I-Araujo Estate Eisele

J-Cht. Montelena

K-Peter Michael Les Pavots

L-Bond Melbury

M-Hundred Acre

N-Shafer Hillside Select

Sorry to say I lost track on the bonus bottles of Larkmead & Verite as the tasting progressed. Others ca talk about those. A real treat was to taste the 1923 Cht. D’Yquem-a wonderful deep amber color with beautiful aromas of butterscotch and peaches…was a great experience.

So, for me overall I preferred:


  1. Araujo Estate Eisele

  2. Bond Melbury

  3. Shafer Hillside Select

  4. Phelps Insignia

  5. Bryant Family

  6. Peter Michael Les Pavots

7.Harlan Estate

An eye opener for me as I have not had many Bonds-but that was quite a wine. Araujo is always a favorite of mine and the Harlan was a bit disappointing but I’m sure if it had more time it would improve even more. Hope that Mr. Hubbard and others will fill in on many more notes…

Thanks Ki! I think Araujo impresses me year in year out. The 2001 was one of my favorite cali cabs of all time, it just has every component you want… I can imagine some of the more recent vintages being a little too “big” for some folks

Araujo and Shafer Hillside. The two wines that really started this whole mess for me.