Cabernet tagged posts

The Brilliant Wines of Ridge

October 4, 2016 News and Opinion  No comments

IMGP6222In the last year I've had the pleasure of visiting two of Ridge's most famous vineyards: Lytton Springs in Sonoma and Monte Bello in the Santa Cruz mountains high above Silicon Valley.  Those two vineyards, along with Geyserville, make up the top bottlings for Ridge, and have for over 40 years.   During that time, very little has changed and the result is one the longest-lived wines in the U.S. (Monte Bello) and two of the most American wines (Lytton Springs and Geyserville).

Here are some of the reasons I love Ridge:

Monte Bello is one of the longest-lived wines in the country.  This year, I tasted a vertical of the '88, '03 and '12 and they were all brilliant.  That's especially impressive considering '88 was a poor vintage in California and the wine was 28 years

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A Wine I Buy Every Year – Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet (RP95, $89.95)

September 28, 2016 90+ BargainsHigh End Values  No comments

Beringer PR LabelI own, or have owned, the '02, '03, '04, '05, '06, '07, '09, '11 and '12 Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet.  That's really as much endorsement of this wine as I could possibly provide.  But since that doesn't make for a very entertaining or informative blog post, let's discuss why this is such a great wine year in and year out. Beringer owns tons of acres of vineyards all over Napa in many varied appellations (and many more beyond).  This diversity allows them to take the very best fruit of a given year and blend it to create a remarkably consistent and remarkably high quality Cabernet each year.  And while Beringer does make some ultra high volume bulk wine, their Private Reserve Cabernet is, and has always been, one of the very best wines in California.

I visited the winery in May

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A 2013 Yountville Napa Cab $40 (RP91)

February 20, 2016 90+ Bargains  No comments

IMG_5970Yountville is one of the top appellations in the Napa Valley, that much is for sure. Dominus certainly thinks so, with their wine selling for close to $200 per bottle. Kapcsandy's "Grand Vin" from Yountville's State Lane Vineyard is close to double that. That's why a Yountville Cabernet, at the entry price for generic Napa designated wines, got my attention.

The Liparita "V Block" Yountville Cabernet is rich, bold and opulent, especially for Yountville, where the wines tend to be more restrained. The aromatics are beautiful and pronounced. Chalk it up to the 2013 vintage where perfect weather allowed winemakers to hang their grapes as long as they pleased. Oh and about the 2013 vintage: I thought Napa Cabernet couldn't get better after drinking a bunch of 2012s. I was wrong.  This is

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A 90 Point Napa Cab for $15 – Ca’ Momi 2012 ($14.95, RP90)

December 3, 2014 90+ Bargains  No comments


The days of the (drinkable) under $20 Napa Cab are over aren't they?  I think I've said that numerous times on this blog.  Well I'll be the first to raise my hand and say I was proven wrong here.  A relatively new winery called Ca' Momi has released a solid 2012 Napa Cab at the magical under $20 $15 price point.  This is the second coming of the 2005 Avalon.

Are there better wines for $15?  Sure, I think looking toward France, Italy or Spain will get you something a little better at the price point.  But are there better Napa Cabs for $15?  Absolutely not.  You don't have to trust me on this.  Robert Parker himself described this as "high-class" and gave it 90 points.  I followed a bottle over two days and this wine showed a nice nose of cherry with

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The Next Coming of The Prisoner: Coppola Director’s Cut Cinema

July 2, 2012 Cellar WorthyHigh End Values  No comments

I was a big fan of Orin Swift's "The Prisoner" when it came out.  So much so that it was the first wine I spent real money on.  The receipt below shows I spent $210.28 on a six pack at over $35 per bottle!

The price of The Prisoner has dropped since then, but in my opinion, so has the quality.  I thought maybe my tastes had just changed, so I opened my last bottle of the 2005 vintage The Prisoner earlier this year and confirmed I do indeed like that wine better than the last several releases (they are now on 2010).  As so often happens with popular wines, the temptation to increase production caused quality to diminish.

I have never tasted a wine quite like the early versions of The Prisoner until now.  And, it came from an unexpected source:

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A Serious 91 Point Napa Cabernet under $20 – Fuse

November 1, 2011 Cellar WorthyDaily Drinkers  No comments

I usually completely ignore Wine Enthusiast reviews.  For reasons why, see my "Rating the Raters" post. Well, by some fluke, they got this rating dead on, because this is an absolutely magnificent Napa Cabernet for $17.95.

This wine reminds me of the 2008 Paul Hobbs Crossbarn at a $12 discount.  It's an open, oaky, and sweet Cabernet with serious intentions.  When it comes to value-priced Napa cabs, I find this style preferable to the more firm, tannic version, because I don't have the patience, nor confidence, to sit on an $18 bottle of wine for five years to wait for it to hopefully open up.  This wine will certainly drink well for at least five years, but unlike a bottle of Anderson's Conn Valley Reserve Cabernet ($60), it doesn't require it to be at its best.

This wine pours a

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A 90 Point Napa Cab for $17 – Buehler… Buehler…

October 21, 2011 Cellar WorthyDaily Drinkers  No comments

Readers have probably noticed that less Napa Cabernet appears on this blog than it once did.  Why is that?  Two reasons: 1) I've gotten more picky about what I write up and 2) the marginal lift in the economy has made bargain Napa Cabernet harder to come by.  Sure, there are more cheap cabs in the market than ever but cheap does not equal value.  The problem with most of these value priced Napa Cabs is they all taste the same and that taste is... unnatural.

Much like Ferris Bueller on his "Day Off", Buehler Vineyards takes their own approach to high production (15,000 case!!!) Cabernet.  What make wine enjoyable is that no two are the same, and the best are downright unique.  Buehler Vineyard's Napa Cabernet tastes like a Cabernet, but it is identifiable and unique, and to my palate,

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Oakville Ranch Cabernet – Single Vineyard 94 Point Magic $44.95

August 29, 2011 Cellar WorthyHigh End Values  No comments

Every time I drink an Oakville wine, I'm amazed at the uniqueness of the flavor.  Cabernet made from this tiny appellation in the center of the Napa valley, flanked by Yountville to the south and Rutherford to the north, is immediately identifiable by its exceptional density and powerful but sweet tannins.

The 2008 Oakville Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon is no exception.  At this young age, it pours a deep, opaque purple.  The color alone identifies this wine as something special.  The nose is sweet and round, another signature of Oakville, with a nice balance of ripe fruit and new oak flavors.  On the palate, it shows its youth with mouth-coating, biting tannins that get sweeter as the lengthy finish lingers on.  Let this baby sit for 10 years and it will be absolutely epic.  If you don't

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94 Point Cabernet $36.95 – Stonestreet Monument Ridge 2007

August 18, 2011 Cellar WorthyHigh End Values  No comments

To quote French Stewart of Saturday Night Live's "Celebrity Jeopardy", "I'm a late bloomer, Alex, and in Double Jeopardy, I'm gonna bloom!"  It's Double Jeopardy for the 2007 vintage but Sonoma County is still releasing some of that amazing vintage and the 2007 Stonestreet Monument Ridge Cabernet is, well, monumental.

This winery is another one of the late Jess Jackson's masterpieces.  He was a pioneer of California wine, but also wine values, especially with the Kendall-Jackson label.  This winery has released a true value with this Alexander Valley Cabernet.  Alexander Valley is one of the few places in Sonoma County that grows great Cabernet grapes because of it's warmer temperatures.  I hesitate to bring this up, but another famous Cabernet hails from the Alexander Valley

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Two Values from the Legendary Paul Hobbs: Crossbarn

July 20, 2011 Cellar WorthyHigh End Values  No comments

Paul Hobbs makes wine from the very best vineyards in California.  Think names like Hyde, Stagecoach, To-Kalon and Dr. Crane.  He has numerous 100 point ratings and has established himself as perhaps the top winemaker and consultant in California and beyond.

But what happens to all of those expensive grapes he buys that don’t quite make the cut for his $100+ wines?  I'll give you a hint.  He doesn’t just throw them away.  He makes them into his Crossbarn series of wines.  You might call Crossbarn a second wine, but that wouldn’t really do these wines justice.  The Crossbarn series are on par with most wineries top tier productions, but Hobbs just holds himself to a higher standard.

I've had a number of vintages of both the Chardonnay and the Cabernet and each impress every time. 

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