Category Archives: Cabernet Sauvignon

Thanksgiving with the Mondavis: A Family Reunited and its Rich Legacy

My intense and delightful immersion with the extended Mondavi family—i.e., nearly all the descendants of Cesare and Rosa Mondavi, including the children and most of the grandchildren of both Robert and Peter Mondavi, Sr.—commenced this past Friday with a late afternoon visit to the Continuum vineyard on Pritchard Hill followed by a Thanksgiving themed dinner at the newly finished winery there. Continue reading

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Grand Daddy of California Wine Events: Family Winemakers San Francisco

The major stars of the tasting for me, with strong lineups overall and one or more wines rating 93 points or higher, were Bien Nacido, Benovia, Chateau Montelena, Grgich Hills, Herb Lamb, Kaena, Keenan, Ladera, Lagier Meredith, Lamborn Family, L’Aventure, Ottimino, Paloma, Saxon Brown, Seavey, Thomas Fogarty and Vino Noceto. Continue reading

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Scarecrow: Extraordinary Cabernet From Napa’s Oldest Vines

While Scarecrow is undoubtedly a cult Cab, albeit one selling for a fraction of the price of Screaming Eagle, it is also based on grapes with an unusually distinguished pedigree. Add to that Ms. Welch’s thoughtful and sensitive decisions and the result is, I believe, one of the great achievements of California winemaking over the past decade. Continue reading

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2013 Update/Cabernet Value Recommendation

This holiday blindtasting brought home for me even further what a great value the Ridge Santa Cruz Mountains Estate is for a high quality Bordeaux blend. It is designed to be drinkable much earlier than the Monte Bello, and it is somewhat ageworthy but will not go decades like the Monte Bello. Continue reading

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California Wines Showing More Balance: SF Family Winemakers Tasting

What was noteworthy for me among the wines I tasted was a decline in the overripe versions of these wines that had come to dominate production over the last two decades. Due, I’m sure, to the relative coolness of the last few vintages in California, as well as to a conscious aim for higher acid, more balanced wines by an increasing number of winemakers here, I tasted many more balanced, lower alcohol Cabernets this year. Continue reading

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Silver Oak: Reappraising a California Cabernet Icon

When I talk to people who say they really like California Cabernet, but who don’t otherwise seem all that knowledgeable about wine, nine times out of ten they tell me Silver Oak is one of their favorites and/or the one they collect. Silver Oak has also long been among the top selling wines at restaurants, and was number two again in 2012 on Wine & Spirits Magazine’s Restaurant Top 50 list of top selling Cabernets. For wine geeks, on the other hand, few major labels are more regularly derided than Silver Oak. Many in the highly knowledgeable wine crowd have taken to referring to the wine as “Silver Joke.” Why does this brand, whose origins date back to the early 1970s, so sharply split casual wine lovers from ardent wine geeks?
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2001 Napa Cabernets: Ripeness, High Alcohol & Accelerated Maturity

I think there are probably a number of factors that went into accelerating the age cycle for the 2001s we tasted, but the higher alcohol levels and lower acidities in these wines, as compared to very ageworthy Cabernets from the ’60s, ’70s and early ’80s I’ve enjoyed, certainly must have played a major role in making many of these wines more enjoyable in their youth than 11 years on. While there was rich, plush fruit on many of the best of these, few of them were showing the kind of structure required for ageworthy Cabernets. Continue reading

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