Changing Tastes in a TN: 2014 Quivet Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley (USA, California, Napa Valley)

I hesitated to post this, and wanted to make sure I lay out the nuance. I’m fan and a supporter of Mike’s wines. I have a lot of them in my cellar.

2014 Quivet Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley - USA, California, Napa Valley (2/20/2017)
So, my tastes are changing. This is excellent, obviously extremely well-made wine. We’ve tasted with Mike Smith, the winemaker. I have a lot of his wine in the cellar. I appreciate his work and his rather prolific accomplishments.

That said, this was sweet before my tastes started changing. And now, it basically tastes chocolate sweet to me. Mike’s wines are the sweetest non-desert wines in my cellar. My wife loves his style and I generally still enjoy it, but it’s less for me than it used to be.

Big, rich, voluptuous, decadent. Mike described it as pillowy. It’s soft not muscular. But there are layers and structure, it is just soft. And SWEET.

When I asked Mike why he makes wines with this approach, he answered, simply “because I think that’s what people want.” I get that completely.

I’m not going to score this, because it’s not his (or the wine’s) fault I’ve taken great interest in Pinot and white wines, and have started to enjoy grace and elegance and understatement. They are not mutually exclusive of course, but this particular wine has become a bit too much for me.

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Now, a couple days before this wine, we drank Mike’s 2014 Becklyn Sauv Blanc. We found it lower in alcohol, edgier, and NOT a fruit bomb like we may have expected. I find that I particularly enjoy Mike’s white wines. I will also continue buying his reds, because, well, happy wife, happy life!

Alex, totally agree with you on the flavor profile of this wine. Never had a Quivet or Myraid before popping open the '14 Quivet Napa. This is more fruit forward than what I would normally drink. It’s not purple drank or chocolate maple syrup. The quality is there and a lot of people would drink this stuff up. Absolutely nothing wrong with this wine. I think it’s something I’d drink every once and awhile and will continue to purchase as my budget allows.

Can you or others compare this to his other wines- Myriad, Scarlett, Becklyn and their SV’s? I have a few of these, not much drinking experience with them in particular, have heard similar comments, and worry about it.

It’s true too, think about it. 2010 was railed as a bad Napa Cab vintage because the fruit wasn’t ripe enough. Everybody talks about how they avoided buying in 2010. The majority of wine drinkers enjoy flavor and they speak loudest with their wallets.

Brian Tuite wrote:
It’s true too, think about it. 2010 was railed as a bad Napa Cab vintage because the fruit wasn’t ripe enough. Everybody talks about how they avoided buying in 2010. The majority of wine drinkers enjoy flavor and they speak loudest with their wallets.

Did you mean 2011 rather than 2010?


I don’t know, did I?

It’s absolutely true. Crowd-pleasers sell. Nuance and finesse is an acquired taste while bold, rich fruit is immediately pleasing to even beginner palates. It’s smart business, especially if you sell direct to your own list.

My recollection was that 2010 Napa Cabs were more well-received than the 2011’s by the critics. I think there were good wines in both vintages, FWIW.


+1 on this. How would you compare it to some of the Myriad wines?

I wouldn’t say there is anything to worry about unless you are used to drinking Corison or Dunn. Mike’s style is similar to that of Thomas Brown. Big but balanced. He says anyone can make a balanced wine out of fruit picked at 22brix. The challenge is picking at 28 or 30 and making a balanced wine.

Well, I am not so sure about that. I just opened a 2014 Quivet Napa, my only one. Although I have a couple SVs. I understand the sweetness comment from the OP. I don’t recall this with TRB wines that I have had (Outpost, RM, Riverain come to mind), There are similarities: big, viscous, ripe fruit, but this sweetness is different, and off putting. Are the SVs like this also? Maybe if I did not have to work tomorrow I would check one…

My experience is limited, but I feel like the blend (Napa) tend to be a little more fruit forward than the single vineyards (i.e. Three Twins). I did get a lot more fruit profile from the Quivet Napa vs Myriad Napa though.

Alex, thanks for the honest notes. I bought various 2011s, 2012s, 2013s, but no 2014s. Drank through the 2011s which were good, but haven’t opened '12 or '13 yet.

I’m in a “Bordeaux phase” these days, so am stepping away from Napa cabs until I get bored and am ready to return. Maybe step away from these for awhile? The right food pairing can help offset some of the sweetness as well. Worst case, I’m sure there are plenty of folks who would take them off your hands.

Why did you buy them? Don’t you buy wines that you’ve tried and liked, and if you like them, what’s to worry about?

I haven’t had many of them but I’ve had a few and they’re of a type that I think is what Napa is known for - ripe, clean, fruit forward, and enjoyable. There’s other wine in the world for sure, and right now I’m drinking something weird from Italy after tasting a bunch of Spanish wines earlier today, but they all have their respective places. I wouldn’t worry about having some good wine. Drink it when you’re in the mood for something riper and when you’re not, drink something from the Loire. They can both be enjoyable.

Thomas’s wines have more earth, dust, and oak, in my opinion, giving them more muscle, and also more balance. Mike’s wines are fruitier, plusher, and rounder. Both definitely have a place, depending on your mood.

Upon its arrival, I scored this very same Quivet a 94. That’s how good it is. It’s just that my changing tastes have “come out of the closet” – ha!

It was the high tide on Lake Michigan combined with the melting polar ice caps on a flower day during the first timester of an orange world leader. Happens every time!

Good questions- I bought the Quivet, and Myriad for that matter, last year to give them a try. The illness that many of us suffer, chasing new wines? The driver, to be honest, was this board, and I seem to remember a string of notes in which these wines garnered championship-level value. champagne.gif So, I purchased. I am not so sure that this is what napa is known for…maybe partially, and certainly to some…but not broadly I do not think. Maybe I am wrong on that. I agree with your other comments, so no, I am not really worried per se, although I may well end this experiment. This wine is enjoyable but too up fron for what I want.

You drink Schrader? Comparing valley floor fruit from Kennefick Ranch to volcanic mountain fruit from Outpost is a pretty rough example. Apples-Oranges kinda thing yes? Pop a Schrader alongside that Quivet and compare styles. Or pop a Myriad Three Twins alongside a Stone the Crows.

No Schrader. Agree valley vs mountain. My question was more about winemaking style. But I think I have a Three Twins. I will be popping the various SVs I have prior to the next releases to see what I think.

One poster said TRB has more earthiness. Earthiness comes from the vineyard not the fermentation tanks. Mike learned under Thomas. If you compare their wines from the same vineyard/vintage it may open your eyes to what I am alluding to.