Notes and impressions from a Cabernet tasting - Saturday, June 17, 2000, at the Wine Exchange in Orange, CA. Eighteen Cabs and two Merlots were poured for a tasting fee of $27.
The wines, in the order tasted:
1997 Neyers Merlot - Napa Valley. $24.99. Dark ruby garnet color.
Fleshy, somewhat leafy green nose that also seems a bit thin. Fleshy mouthfeel,
fruity though modest body, slightly tart off-sweet finish. This surprised
me a bit - I expected a bigger and more plush wine.
1997 B. R. Cohn Merlot - Olive Hill Estates Vnyd, Sonoma Valley .
$22.99. Medium ruby garnet color. Toasty sweet strawberry nose, just
the tiniest bit thin and stemmy. Initially sweet and toasty on the palate,
generally fruity mouthfeel but a slightly bitter off-sweet quality appears
about mid-palate, and continues through a somewhat thin and sinewy finish.
1998 Tobin James Cabernet Sauvignon Legacy - Paso Robles. $11.99.
Medium ruby violet color. Nose of black cherry, sawdust, cedar, oak and
asparagus. Generally fruity mouthfeel, with a sort of a stiff green backbone
to it at mid-palate, and a thin and somewhat green finish.
1997 Clos LaChance Cabernet Sauvignon - Santa Cruz Mtns. $16.99.
Medium dark ruby color. Nose of sweet ripe black cherry, toast, anise,
and cheddar. Somewhat sweet-sour fruit, medium-full body, and astringent
mouthfeel. Fruit trails off a bit on toasty finish. Very nice nose here.
If the fruit had been up the ripeness apparent in the nose, this would
be quite a wine - especially considering the price.
1997 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon - Washington. $47.99. Medium
dark ruby garnet color. Sweet black cherry, toast, pine and cedar aromas.
Fleshy and somewhat underripe fruit, big chewy mouthfeel, toasty smooth
tannins, and long finish. Fairly nice wine, but it's not delivering $48
worth of nice.
1997 Estancia Meritage - Alexander Valley. $20.99. Medium ruby
garnet color. Nose of black cherry, strawberry, and toast with a touch
of green bean. Moderate body, toasty mouthfeel, long soft finish. Surprisingly
good bottle of wine. The trace of green bean in the nose is all that much
of a putoff. Toast seemed to be an overriding feature of the mouthfeel.
1997 Geyser Peak Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve - Alexander Valley.
$24.99. Dark ruby purple color. Nose of cassis, cheese, and sweet
toast. Of-sweet fruit on the palate, big mouthfeel with chewy tannins,
good structure, long tannic finish.
1997 Chateau Souverain Cabernet Sauvignon - Alexander Valley. $14.99.
Dark ruby color. Nose of sweet cassis and cheese-toast. Toasty/tannic
mouthfeel, soft tannins, seemingly good fruit, and big dose of oak round
out the palate.
1997 Kenwood Cabernet Sauvignon - Jack London Vnyds, Sonoma
Valley. $25.99. Dark ruby color. Nose of cassis, sawdust, kalamata
olive, caper and spice. Toasty cassis flavors, smooth and chewy mouthfeel,
long fruit-filled toasty finish. Fruit becomes a bit sweet/sour in after
palate, but still quite flavorful. Far from detracting, the olive/caper
qualities in the nose really enhance the wine. The Jack is Back!
1997 Silverado Cabernet Sauvignon - Napa Valley. $26.99. Medium
dark ruby color. Major blast of cassis in the nose, with additional notes
of toast and cedar. Fairly large and chewy mouthfeel, sweet/sour fruit,
toasty off-sweet finish.
1997 Napa Wine Company Cabernet Sauvignon - Napa Valley. $26.99.
Dark ruby color. Nose of sweet cassis jam and toast, with anise, shoe
polish and just a hint of olive. Toasty and tannic on the palate, with
a nice sweet oak streak, smooth rather than soft mouthfeel, and very long
finish. This is easy to like now, but will probably be better in a few
1997 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon SLD - Napa Valley. $37.99.
Medium-dark ruby color. Nose of toast, sawdust and cassis. Lots of toast
on the palate, with a chocolate and cassis midpalate, and very toasty
finish. Nice nose, but the level of toast, toast, toast on the palate
1997 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville - Napa Valley.
$37.99. Medium-dark ruby color. Dense nose of shoe polish, cassis,
anise, and chalk. Sweet and tasty fruit, with smooth mouth-coating chalky
1997 Karl Lawrence Cabernet Sauvignon - Napa Valley. $35.99. Dark
ruby color. Nose of toast, cassis, anise, sweet sawdust, pepper, and a
hint of blueberry jam. Just beautiful. Big mouthfeel, sweet toasty and
expansive fruit, long cheese-toast finish. Another killer from KL.
1997 Frazier Cabernet Sauvignon - Napa Valley. $35.99. Very dark
ruby color. Dense off-sweet nose of toast, cassis, anise, leaf, and a
charred wood smoky smell. Fabulous! Big mouthfeel, chewy cassis and blueberry
fruit, tannic toasty off-sweet finish. The nose is fairly effusive, but
the wine is still tight and a little backward at this point.
1997 Almaviva - Chile. $47.99. Dark ruby color. Effusive cassis
and cheesey nose, with an overall sour or pungent quality to the fruit.
Big on the palate, with abundant soft tannins, chewy consistency, and
long toasty fruity finish. Though this could be an errant bottle, the
wine seemed much better in the mouth than it did in the nose. Joint production
by Concha y Toro and Château Mouton-Rothschild. Reminds me of a
Bordeaux on steroids.
1997 Staglin Cabernet Sauvignon - Napa Valley. $54.99. Very dark
ruby color. Incredible nose of toasted hardwoods, cassis, mocha, and anise.
Amazing! Smooth mouthfeel, expansive fruit, with a grilled cheese quality
to the latter palate and smooth fruity and toasty finish. Fabulous now,
but I must stay awayÖmust stay awayÖ.
1997 Clos Pegase Cabernet Sauvignon - Palisades Vnyd, Napa Valley.
$59.99. Dark ruby color. Nose of cassis and toast, with a slight minty
or eucalyptus quality. Slightly sweet/sour toasty mouthfeel, and medium-long
finish. One of two premium single vnyd bottlings, the Palisades has a
lot going for it. Just a little more sweet/sour than I like. More expensive
than I like, too.
1997 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon - Napa Valley. $64.99. Dark garnet
ruby color. Nose of oak, chocolate, cassis, and mint. Somewhat off-sweet
mouthfeel, with toasty chewy tannins, big body, and long finish. Prototypical
stuff for Caymus. Apart from the mint, they could phone the recipe in.
Funny, the Caymus prices seems more relative now. Which came first, the
Caymus or the price?
1997 Pine Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon Andrus Reserve -
Napa Valley. $93.99. Dark ruby garnet color. Big toasty cassis nose,
with hints of leaf, cocoa, and anise. Big mouthfeel, with sweet, buttery,
and toasty cassis notes, and very long finish. Much more refined than
previous models of this wine. Gone too, are the overtly green or vegetal
notes from some of the early bottlings. Be interesting to see how this
ages. Wonder where I can find it discounted about 60%.
Overall impressions: the Staglin had an absolutely stunning nose, with a richness on the palate that will invite early drinking. The Karl Lawrence was killer, as usual. I must admit, the Frazier presented a mild disappointment to me. When I first tasted this wine from barrel samples at the NVVA Tasting, it was much more forward, and smelled and tasted fabulous. This bottle showed most of the beautiful nose I recall, but was just too tight at this point to deliver in forward fruit on the palate. There seemed to be a cluster of very nice wines in the $25-27 range, with the Napa Wine Co, Kenwood JL, and Geyser Peak Reserve.
Disappointments included the Quilceda Creek, which, while a nice
wine, seems way over-priced at $48. Of the two Mondavi's, I preferred
the nose of the SLD, but the taste of the Oakville. (Hey,
what about an SLD-Oakville blend?) But, from purely a price standpoint
alone, the both of these wines get absolutely trounced by the KL (Shhhh!).
Lastly, the Neyers Merlot just didn't seem to have any of the guts
or the glitz to wow me. Don't know whether they're not putting it in there,
or I'm just not finding it.
Here is my relative ranking, by tier and in order of preference,of the wines tasted.
1997 Staglin Cabernet Sauvignon - Napa Valley. $54.99.
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