Virtual Tasting Series XIV -- Classic California Cabernet

Mr. Seiber has passed the baton to me for the Virtual Tasting Series

This will start Friday February 28th and run through the following Friday, March 7, 2014.

The Tasting:

Coming after Falltacular, some Cabernet is in order (I think there were 3 Cabernets out of 120+ wines). Though many palates are pretty diverse these days, including mine, California Cabernet is where I started with a beautiful 1991 Beringer PR in 1995. It is a bit difficult to quantify Classic California Cabernet, so for these purposes, let’s just say the winery had to be making wine in 1994, a great, classic vintage for CA Cab. The rules do not prevent drinking a younger wine, so long as the winery was making Cab in 1994.

The Charity:

FMIII told me that Falltaculatar was very close to $20,000 for Laura’s House so I wanted to make sure it was over that number. They do TREMENDOUS work for a cause that was practically in the dark 10-20 years ago. There is also someone very close to me who grew up around a lot of domestic violence and is a fabulous, beautiful person today thanks to the assistance of some folks much like those at Laura’s House.

$5 per bottle for any classic Cab tasting note will be my donation. Step it up and drink anything 1979 or before and I will make it $10 per bottle.

I will start if off Friday with a fabulous 1974 retrospective dinner (organized by a very kind soul as all the wines are his) to get the tally going:

Mayacamas (magnum)
Heitz Marthas
Phelps Insignia (1st vintage)
Ridge Montebello
Mondavi Private Reserve (magnum)
BV Private Reserve
Stags Leap Cask 23 (1st vintage)
Charles Krug Special Select
Louis Martini Reserve
Freemark Abbey Boshe
Clos du Val (double magnum)
Silver Oak North Coast
Simi Reserve

Band together and make me feel the financial pinch. Stay thirsty (for CA Cab) my friends.

Thanks for doing this.
But, shouldn’t it be $20 per magnum?
Just sayin’.
It is for Laura’s House, after all.

I will try and participate - I have some Heitz, Groth and Arrowood in the cellar pre-1994.

I’ve got some '94 Mondavi Napa Cab ready for this one, buddy.

$20 per magnum it is!

I have a 1982 Spottswoode Estate Cab that should fit the bill very nicely.

Nice - look forward to that note.

It is actually Bowden’s wine, but possession is 9/10th the law…

And if he didn’t want you to drink it, he’d come and stop you.

I just love the idea of putting Mr Nordhoff’s hard earned money to such good use. The oldest Napa Cab I have in my cellar is a 1978 Simi Cabernet Reserve which qualifies as a $10 donation. I’m in.

My holdings don’t include any Cali Cabs before 2002 (wish I had some '94 and '97) but I may open a 2007 Larkmead Cabernet Sauvignon or a Fisher Vineyards Cab. I also have 2007 Robert Mondavi Napa Cab (it wouldn’t have to be from vines owned by Robert Mondavi would it?)

On second thought, 2007 was after Robert Mondavi Winery was sold so I won’t use that one.

Looks like more money for Laura’s House.

Jane, it doesn’t have to be a wine made in 1994 or earlier, just a winery that WAS making cabernet sauvignon in 1994 or earlier! You can have a 2011 Mondavi if you want!

'87 Dunn will be opened for this.

I think Snowden qualifies (barely) but mine are relatively recent. Sounds like fire, barely singed bovine and Snowden Reserve tomorrow night.

  • 1994 Robert Mondavi Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley - USA, California, Napa Valley (2/27/2014)
    The cork was quite soft when I put the corkscrew in, and upon seeing the cork, it is rather damp, but no leakage. A bit of premature aging, however, is evident immediately, but I’m noticing that the funk is blowing off nicely.

Now that it has, the bouquet simply sings out, and it reminds me exactly why I do love good California Cabernet with some age on it, as it can be mistaken for good Bordeaux as well - another favorite of mine. Red fruits dominate the nose, as well as some musky roses, and a bit of graphite. Beautiful. Sweet red fruit all over the palate, and while it is not a rich mouthfeel, it’s filled with acidity, and the tannins have all rounded nicely, taking on the fruit characters of the wine. Nice finish, great wine - amazing to consider it’s the ‘regular’ bottling, but makes you realize exactly what a legend in CA winemaking can do with their facilities, staff, and fruit sources, when they want to. The Reserve from this vintage must be spectacular.

Steve, you’re a real gentleman for devoting your $$$ for this week back to Laura’s House. I think I have convinced Margaret Bayston, the Exec Director, to register for the WB board and maybe she will show up in a post or two.

We’re so frigging lucky to have so many people believe in the work they do over there. Thanks a million again, man. While I have opened an older Chidaine Chenin for tonight, in deference to my wife, we’ll toast you and the guys here for doing the work to once again raise money for a cause. Outstanding.

Unfortunately…it tastes ‘old’ enough for Jen not to like it. Guess I’m downing the whole bottle myself tonight! Just THINK how heart-healthy I’ll be!

Even though I quite a portion of Steve’s original post above, I didn’t seem to follow that the Tasting Series starts tomorrow, the 28th.
With that mea culpa out of the way, I offer up this note on a Classic California Cab, from a vintage that received a lot of hype and praise.

  • 1997 Heitz Cellar Cabernet Sauvignon - USA, California, Napa Valley (2/27/2014)
    Pop and pour and served with food and then followed on its own. (The food was a veal cutlet and then a pierogi, in case you were wondering.)
    Dark and rich maroon color; showing no real sign of bricking.
    Nose of mint/menthol and cedar.
    Tastes of black fruits with a little bit of licorice,menthol and a slight touch of eucalyptus. Shows a good dose of acidity that started leaning towards being astringent. A nice wine but perhaps a bit one dimensional. Showed more promise upon first opening but then the acidity move more towards the astringent side. (88 pts.)

I was enjoying this watching Knicks-Heat game and accidentally knocked over and broke the wine glass. (Perhaps some hidden frustration with the Knicks?)
Small sacrifice for the cause.

It will be good to see other notes on some classic Cab.

Thanks for the opportunity and running this Virtual Tasting.

2014-02-26 20.05.27.jpg
Used to really love this wine and after not having one for many years, have to say it has matured very much like a Bordeaux in a riper year. Hopefully I find the time to pop a few older cabs, I have some good ones to look forward to. How much $ do we need to tip the scales over 20G? Lets get going!

1996 Gallo of Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon Barrelli Creek (USA, California, Sonoma County, Alexander Valley)
2/27/2014: Throwing some heavy sediment and inside of bottle coated solid. Quick decant. Starting to brown and fairly dark. Amazing nose of cassis, mature fruits. Palate is medium bodied with very drying tannins which are almost chalky in a good way. Espresso, dark fruits, vanilla and earth. This wine is fully mature and will be heading downhill soon. Very nice.

Oops…looks like several of us can’t follow directions!!!