Archive for the 'Cabernet' Category


it’s a zin not to drink a cab

Had these over the last couple of nights.

The first is the 2008 Dry Creek Vineyard, Heritage Zinfandel, Sonoma Coast
It had a pretty low ABV for a zin about 13.5% if I recall, but it was big in body with lots of juicy stewed dark fruits with lovely smooth tannins and dark acidity to balance it out.

The second is the 2008 The Sum, Cabernet, Napa Valley, Oakville
For the price, in relation to other Napa cabs, this was a real bargain. I paid $23.00 (US) after tax at Marion Street Cheese Market. The nose was deep, dark and spicy with tell tale hints of eucalyptus and cedar. The palate was equally rich and dark with ripe plum and blackberry flavours. The tannins were a bit tight and finely textured but did smooth out over time. I’m looking forward to having a glass tonight to see how it opened up. The long finish treated the mouth with some nice dark cocoa notes wrapped around black cherry flavours.


staglin and steaks

So it was a gorgeous night out last night and the Hawks were playing…it was time for some Staglin and Steaks!

First a couple of nice ribeye on the grill:

Then pop open the 2006 Staglin Family Estate, “Salus” Cabernet, Rutherford
Let it decant for an hour:

The it was time to dine:

Right off the bat I noticed its deep ruby red color and its wonderful nose of red fruits, hint of mint and peppery oak spice. The palate was certainly rich and supple with tons of lush plum and blackberry flavours bolstered by pretty smooth tannins and underlying notes of oak and chocolate. The finish was long and smooth with only the acidity letting me know that it was still a bit tight and could have used another year or so. But hey! You only live once and win the Stanley Cup once in 49 years. Besides with the ribeyes and the Spinach and Bocconcini cheese salad with cherry tomatoes and red onion with a light oil and vinegar dressing, it was perfect! The night was perfect! Can’t go wrong with that!


a follow up on the Hess Select

I didn’t find the oakiness on the Hess Select to be that overt the first time round but after finishing the bottle off last night it was a totally different wine; it was smoother and silkier and the oakiness was only apparent in its obvious absence. The finish was a lot longer as well, with more pronounced layers of chocolate, (or was it mocha?) and plum notes. The wine really opened up and now I just wish I let it decant for an hour or so the first time; I’ll remember to do that the next time.


everything you wanted in a Cab and Hess!

Trying out a new notes format….(tell me what you think)

2007, Hess Select, Cabernet Sauvignon, Mendocino, Lake, Napa

Region(s): 47% Mendocino County, 37% Lake County, 16% Napa County
ABV: 13.5%
Retail Price: $17.99 (Whole Foods in Oak Park, Il)

Back Label: “Sourced from family owned and sustainably farmed vineyards in three appellations: Mendocino, Lake and Napa counties. By narrowing the appellations to these three areas that specialize in Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, we feel this wine has reached a new level of richness and intensity. Mendocino contributes spice and mid-palate. Lake adds the classic red fruit profile of Bing cherry, while Napa maintains our signature style of a structured wine with black fruit and Cassis flavours.”

My Notes:

See: Deep ruby-red with tints of garnet.

Sniff: Red fruits and eucalyptus, white pepper, cedar, cigar leaf tobacco

Sip: Full-bodied, rich, supple, textured. Concentrated dark fruit flavours, blackberry, cherry. Dark chocolate. Silky smooth tannins. Finish is long and luscious with hints of toasty oak and black cherry acidity.

Impressions: My first impression is that this is a ready to drink cali red with rich fruit flavours and supple textures but with balance and finesse. It’s a wine that is not ashamed to say that it’s Californian. I like the blend of the three AVAs allowing each to compliment and contrast each other to create a wine that won’t overwhelm or fall flat or weigh too heavy on the palate. I had this with my usual “picnic fare” of Drunken Goat cheese, some smoked gouda, Genoa Salami and prosciutto di Parma. My favourite combo was with the smoked gouda and salami with a bit of prosciutto. The texture of the wine really complimented that of the cheese and salami and the tannins helped to cut through the oiliness. I really want to try this with a nice rib eye as well. Afterall my first encounter with Hess was their single vineyard Cab with a nice piece of 21 day aged rib eye at Mustards in Napa.

My overall assessment of the Hess Select Cab is that, for the money it’s a darn good value, offering up wonderful fruit flavours with great balance and rich textures. I will buy again!

Cheers and keep tasting!


revisiting an old friend from Spain

I’m no Parker. I cannot remember every detail of every wine I’ve ever tasted. Perhaps this says that I don’t have as sophisticated a palate, or perhaps it just means that I can remain more objective when I try a new vintage of a wine I’ve had before. Either way, I love to try new vintages of my favourites and a lot of times I prefer the newer one. I also love to go back and compare notes to see how consistent the wine and my palate are, or how divergent. So, I bought a bottle of the 2008, La Cartuja, Priorat, which I absolutely fell in love with when I first had the 2007 (Parker gave that one a 91). And I love this one as well. The 08 is a blend of 50% Garnacha, 30% Mazuelo, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Syrah. It is oak-aged for 8 months in French oak barrels and is subtle and elegant with a nose evocative of wet river rocks and just picked raspberries. It’s expressive without being overwhelming with whiffs of oak emerging with spicy notes of fine black pepper and dark cherries. The full-bodied palate is lush and supple without being too heavy. The fruit flavours caress rather than coat the mouth. Rich flavours of black berry and dark cherry are balanced with toasty notes of oak and underlying hints of loamy minerality, which really give this wine a definite sense of place. The tannins are silky and almost sweet and provide a perfect structure that leads into a long smooth finish laced with just a touch of cherry acidity. This Priorat drinks wonderfully on its own but loves food as well with the guts and body to stand up to roasted or grilled meat dishes and the poise and elegance to work with lighter dishes with a little spice to the and for $16.99 you can’t go wrong either way; an absolute bargain for a Priorat!

And under the twinkling lights of my patio

Cheers and Keep Tasting!

and it’s Iron Horse bdx-3 by a mile!

So, I left work early yesterday and headed into Just Grapes for a bottle of vino to have with the steaks I was going to grill up. We had a few wines open from the 1st Wednesday tasting that I wanted to taste but none really stuck out; at least for what I was going to pair them with. Besides, I had my mind, and heart, set on the bottle I did bring home! I’ve been tasting it every time I was in the store since we brought it in and just had to bring it home. If I could, I would have purchased a few bottles, but due to the low nature of my cost, I was restricted to but a single bottle of the 2005, Iron Horse, BDX-3, T bar T Vineyards, Alexander Valley:
 It’s a Bordeaux blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Cabernet Franc, and 8% Petit Verdot! It’s a lovely deep ruby and garnet colour with lots of depth. The nose is lush, full of dark fruit aromas accented with notes of cedar spice box and mint! The palate is equally lush, with supple plum and blackberry flavours with just the right hints of oaky spice. The tannic structure was near perfect to me, supple and silky, but with just enough grip to handle the rich steaks! The finish seemed to last forever and was so smooth, with added hints of chocolate and plum. This wine exhibited an almost perfect balance of earth and fruit that I think it would appeal to both new and old world lovers alike! I so wish I could buy a case of this wine!

The steaks on the flame:

And ready to eat:

Salud my friends!!!

Keep Tasting!


spare me cab is no gutter ball

Climat? Terroir? Evocative of place? Which ever term or buzz word suits your sensibilities best, it certainly fits this wine without a doubt! I had a fairly nerve-racking day leading up to the cracking open of this bottle; it was Monday and I was called into the office of the Sr. VP to discuss my place in the company and where I might fit in, in the future. So, I got home, unsure of my security and needed to find some inner peace; return to a place where I was happy relaxed and in love. So I opened up my bottle of the 2007, Erna Schein, “Spare Me” Cabernet! I let it decant for about and a half before I sat down with the first glass.

I swirled. I sniffed. Instantly I was transported back to that very happy place a top the mountains, sitting in the vintage Westcraft trailer. I could smell the rain and mist, the trees the rain-soaked gravel, the stone walls. I was content.

Though I feel it was a tad young and could have sat for another several years it was still drinking quite well with lush aromas of dark berries (plum and black cherries), cherry cola (or was it Dr. Pepper?), fresh cracked black pepper, mineral (wet river rocks) and toasty oak notes mingling together in a beautiful bouquet that seemed to last forever and set up the senses for an equally complex and structured palate swirling with black cherry and plum flavours accented with hints of anise, dark chocolate and swirls of cherry compote filling. The tannins were softening up but still integrated enough to avoid being astringent and helped kick off the long finish the added just a hint of cherry tart acidity.

I suppose that I felt a slight twinge of regret opening her up so soon after she arrived but wine, after all, is meant to be consumed and enjoyed, which she was! And, now that I’ll be making a bit more money, I’ll be able to buy some more!