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Posts from the ‘Cabernet Sauvignon’ Category

2001 PlumpJack Cabernet Sauvignon – Bottle Notes

Gavin Newsom and Gordon Getty established PlumpJack Winery in 1995, inspired by one of Shakespeare’s most memorable characters, Sir John “PlumpJack” Falstaff. PlumpJack Winery sits squarely in the heart of Napa Valley’s renowned Oakville region, surrounded by a 42-acre estate vineyard highly regarded for the quality of its Cabernet Sauvignon. Aaron Miller is the winemaker at PlumpJack.

PlumpJack holds a special place in my heart: My wife and I were married at their Squaw Valley Inn and served PlumpJack Merlot and Chardonnay at our wedding.

Purple in color. 14.8% ABV. Savory nose of black fruits, cedar and eucalyptus. Rich, plush and concentrated in such a way that belies the 17 years of bottle age. Black cherries, currants, cassis liqueur and mint on the palate. The finish is extremely long with fine grained tannins. Stunning Cabernet Sauvignon from a glorious vintage that is aging beautifully. Best over the next 2-4 years.

My rating: 94 points.

The 2014 PlumpJack Cabernet Sauvignon was recently released and can be obtained at retail and the winery for right around $125. The winery is also a great place to visit on your next trip to Napa Valley.

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1991 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley – Bottle Notes

Silver Oak Winery was founded in 1972 by Raymond Twomey Duncan, a Colorado entrepreneur who began investing in California vineyards in the late 1960s, and Justin Meyer, a winemaker and former Christian Brother. They produced 1,100 cases of their inaugural vintage. Over the next two decades, Silver Oak grew in popularity. The Napa Valley and Alexander Valley Cabernets sold quickly upon their release from the winery and became a sought-after staple on restaurant wine lists around the country. After selecting Daniel Baron to succeed him as winemaker in 1994, Justin retired, selling his share of Silver Oak to the Duncan family in 2001.

Violet in color. 13.5% ABV. Pristine nose of red fruits, licorice and graphite. Incredibly elegant. Holding up well with ample fruits and mostly resolved tannins. Currants, black cherry and anise on the palate. Medium length on the finish with chalky tannins. This was out of magnum so I would say that the wine in this format has aged beautifully. I suspect regular bottles might be on the decline. Regardless, just a great example of what a master the late Justin Meyer was in the wine cellar. Drink soon.

My rating: 91 points.

For me Silver Oak has never been quite the same since Justin Meyer retired. This was one of my favorite wines when I first started this hobby long ago. That being said there is no doubt Silver Oak is still immensely popular. The wines are fairly priced at about $75 for the Alexander Valley Cabernet and $85 for the Napa Valley Cabernet.

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2002 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon – Bottle Notes

The 2002 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon was the winning bottle in the December Installment of Pick My Next Bottle. The wine was decanted for one hour and served with steaks on New Years Eve.

Quilceda Creek Vintners was founded in 1978 by Alex and Jeanette Golitzin. Alex Golitzin is a nephew of André Tchelistcheff, the legendary winemaker who put Beaulieu Vineyard at the forefront of Napa Valley Cabernet in the 1960s and 70s. He credits summer trips to visit his uncle in St. Helena, California with developing his early interest in wine. Alex’s son, Paul Golitzin is now chief winemaker at the winery.

Quilceda Creek Vintners Cabernet Sauvignon has earned some of the highest scores of any wine produced in the United States. The 2002, ’03, ’05 and ’07 vintages all scored 100-point ratings from Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate. Quilceda Creek also produces several single vineyard Cabernets and a Columbia Valley Red Wine.

Purple in color. 14.9% ABV. Stunningly pure nose of red and blue fruits, molten licorice, violets and crushed rocks. Plush, polished and incredibly silky. Tremendous structure and concentration. Blueberries, currants and cassis liqueur on the palate. The finish is exceptionally long with no shortage of tannins. This wine is the complete package and has lived up to all the hype. The epitome of an iron fist in a velvet glove. Drink over the next decade.

My rating: 99 points.

Quilceda Creek is best obtained via the mailing list and you may be able to find some at retail in late March or early April.

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2004 Herb Lamb Cabernet Sauvignon – Bottle Notes

In 1987 Jennifer and Herb Lamb purchased a little over 7 acres of hillside property on the eastern hillsides of St. Helena just below Howell Mountain. Starting in 1991 the fruit was sold to wineries like Karl Lawrence and Colgin. In 1997, with winemaker Mike Trujillo at the helm, they released the first vintage of Herb Lamb Cabernet Sauvignon.

Dark crimson in color. 14.2% ABV. Scintillating nose of red fruits, cassis, tobacco and scorched earth. Big, plush and super silky. Full bodied and perfectly balanced. Currants, creme de cassis and dark chocolate on the palate. There are substantial fine grained tannins on an extraordinarily long finish. Fantastic Cabernet Sauvignon from a great vintage and an iconic vineyard. Drink over the next 4-6 years.

My rating: 95 points.

Given the pedigree, Herb Lamb Cabernet Sauvignon is fairly priced at $150 per bottle. The wine is only available via the mailing list.

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2014 Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon Lyndenhurst – Bottle Notes

Spottswoode is a family owned winegrowing estate located on the western edge of St. Helena in the Napa Valley. The 46 acre estate, established in 1882, is distinguished by the historic Victorian home depicted on the label. Its entrance is graced by classic formal gardens, while the vineyard stretches behind to the Mayacamas Mountains.

The Spottswoode Estate was bought by Jack and Mary Novak in 1972. The first Cabernet Sauvignon was produced in 1982. Spottswoode also makes an exceptional Sauvignon Blanc, a second Cabernet named Lydenhurst and a Rhone blend known as Field Book.

Lyndenhurst is primarily sourced from the Spottswoode Estate Vineyard although a few other vineyards figure in the mix as well in 2014.

Opaque purple in color. 14.1% ABV. 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and small amounts of Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Merlot and Malbec. Supreme nose of black fruits, molten licorice, scorched earth and cassis liqueur. Exceptionally plush and concentrated. Black cherry, raspberry, currants and cassis on the palate. Silky tannins emerge on an endless finish. For me this is the gateway wine to Spottswoode and the ’14 version is the best yet. Drink over the next 5-8 years.

My rating: 95 points.

The 2014 vintage was released recently and is readily available. At $85 it is fairly priced given the pedigree.

I blogged about Spottswoode previously in Overlooked Wines from Great Producers.

This review was based on a sample provided by the winery.

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2002 Betz Family Cabernet Sauvignon Père de Famille – Bottle Notes

Betz Family Winery was founded in 1997 by Bob & Cathy Betz. Critical acclaim from local and national wine publications has put Betz Family Winery at the forefront of Washington wines alongside Cayuse, Leonetti and Quilceda Creek. The winery was sold to Steve and Bridget Griessel over five years ago. Louis Skinner, a longtime assistant of Bob’s, is now the full time Winemaker.

Violet in color. 14.4% ABV. 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot and 6% Malbec. Powerful nose of black fruits, smoke and graphite. Medium to full bodied with medium acidity. Big and plush with resolved tannins. Blackberry, black cherry and currants on the palate. The finish is long and silky. For me the wines from Betz age ever so slowly. At 15 years of age this one is finally ready to go. Best over the next several years.

My rating: 92 points.

I understand the mailing list is full, although I suspect the wait isn’t too long. Fortunately, the wines from Betz are readily available all over Seattle almost year-round. The 2015 Pere de Famille will be released to the mailing list and retail next Spring. I’ll be a buyer.

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2002 Leonetti Reserve Walla Walla Valley – Bottle Notes

Leonetti Cellar was founded in 1977 by Gary and Nancy Figgins. Leonetti, along with Quilceda Creek and Woodward Canyon put premium Washington Cabernet Sauvignon on the radar of wine consumers across the United States. Leonetti also produces one of the very best domestic Merlots. Chris Figgins is now in charge of the winemaking.

52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot and 17% Petite Verdot all from estate vineyards.

Dark crimson in color. 14.5% ABV. Gorgeous nose of blue and black fruits, molten licorice and cassis liqueur. Plush and silky. Medium to full bodied. Blueberry, black cherry, currants, pencil and baking spices on the palate. The finish is long and graceful with fine grained tannins. One of the very best Cabernet Sauvignon based wines being made in Washington. Aging beautifully. Drink over the next 5-7 years.

My rating: 95 points.

Leonetti was one of my very first mailing lists. Twenty years later I am still a buyer and the wines are better than ever. The winery has done an exceptional job at holding the line on prices. Although the mailing list is full and the waiting list is long the wine is readily available at retail in late March so look for the 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon and Reserve next Spring.

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2000 Dunn Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain – Bottle Notes

Dunn Vineyards is located east of St. Helena in the town of Angwin on Howell Mountain. The Winery was established in 1979, with the first harvest of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. In 1981, the first release consisted of 660 cases of 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from the Howell Mountain vineyards. In 1982, Dunn released a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

Dunn is one of the iconic producers of Cabernet Sauvignon in Napa Valley. Randy Dunn, to his credit, has held steadfast in how he produces and prices his wines. The wines are exceptionally long-lived and are truly a throwback to a different era in Napa Valley. Favorable press in the last several years from Antonio Galloni of Vinuous has put a well-deserved spotlight back on the winery.

Crimson in color. 13.6% ABV. Powerful nose of red fruits, leather and fresh mint. Big and structured on the palate with fading fruits and substantial tannins. Dried cherries, currants, plums and pencil lead on the palate. The finish is long with coarse tannins. This wine is everything you expect from Randy Dunn in size and structure but just does not match up to the better vintages of the late 90’s and early 00’s. Drink over the next several years.

My rating: 88 points.

Current vintages of Dunn Howell Mountain should cost around $85. The wine is readily available at retail and a great value at the price point.

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2004 Switchback Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon – Bottle Notes

Switchback Ridge wines are sourced from the Peterson Family Vineyard. The property, located just off the Silverado Trail between St. Helena and Calistoga has been in the Peterson Family since 1914 and was replanted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petite Sirah in 1990. Kelly Peterson along with her father John founded Switchback Ridge in 1999. She is responsible for all aspects of the business, including all sales, marketing and hospitality functions. Bob Foley has been the winemaker since the inaugural vintage.

Purple in color. 15.7% ABV. Soaring nose of red fruits, creme de cassis and a newly opened box of Whitman Sampler. Richly textured, plush and chewy. The balance is notable give the high ABV. Currants, raspberries, cassis liqueur and dark chocolate on the palate. The finish is exceptionally long with fine grained tannins. This wine has a spot in my cellar but you have to pick the right spot when opening. I’d advise against opening this with your friends who prefer old world style wines. Not for the faint of heart. Drink over the next 3-5 years.

My rating: 92 points.

Switchback Ridge wines are only available via their allocation list. The 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon will be released to mailing list members this fall at around $85 per bottle.

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2000 Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon – Bottle Notes

Chateau Montelena dates back to 1882 when Albert Tubbs bought 254 acres of property just north of Calistoga. Tubbs planted vines and by 1896 Montelena was the 7th largest winery in California. Winemaking came to an end with the onset of Prohibition.

The current iteration of Montelena can be traced to 1968, when Jim Barrett was brought on as a partner in the winery. Wine production began again in 1972, with Mike Grgich employed as winemaker. Four years later, the Chateau Montelena 1973 Alexander Valley Chardonnay won first place among the Chardonnays and White Burgundies entered in the “Judgment of Paris” wine competition. This was later chronicled in the popular wine movie Bottle Shock.

Crimson in color. 13.9% ABV. Old World nose of red fruits, cedar, leather and menthol. Light to medium body with light acidity and fading fruit. Plums, currants and cherries on the palate. Medium length on the finish. Somewhat charming on a warm Summer night in Seattle but nowhere near what you expect from Montelena in a good vintage. Drink soon.

My rating: 87 points.

Chateau Montelena is truly a throwback to a bygone era. These are wines meant to be cellared, providing less pleasure on release than they will after 10 or more years of aging. That being said, poor vintages like 2000 should be consumed on the younger side.

Current vintages are readily available at retail and can also be purchased at the winery. Expect to pay $100-$125 per bottle.

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