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Orange County Napa Cab Taste Off

Lang's House

Tasted June 10, 2017 by Cristal2000 with 591 views


After returning from judging wine at the Orange County Fair, eight of us decided to have a big Napa Cab taste off. The Lang's were generous enough to host. The wines were the 2012 Tusk, 2012 Schrader LPV, 2013 Fairchild Stones #2, 2014 Myriad Dr Crane Elysian and 2015 Carter OG. All wines, except for the 2012 Schrader (PnP), were decanted for 7 hours before consuming.

Flight 1 (5 notes)

2015 Carter Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon The O.G. Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard USA, California, Napa Valley, Oakville
99 points
Recently bottled, I had this two weeks ago at the winery and decided to include it in a comparative tasting.

The Carter was the consensus #1 wine of the tasting, with 5 of 8 votes (2nd for the others). It is absolutely astonishing that this wine is showing so well so early. You open the bottle and blue and black fruit is just bursting from the glass. You can smell the super complex, rich aroma from across the room. First sip and you're hooked, as it has a massive concentrated attack with astonishingly pure fruit that hits you with layer after layer of flavor. The integration is seamless and the mouthfeel is oh so silky. It has a mid pallet punch that brings you to your knees with pure pleasure. It finishes with about a minute of lingering behind sweet but strong tannins.

Not sure how this wine is showing like this right now. I just really hope it doesn't shut down and change significantly. There really is very little reason to wait on drinking this wine. I imagine it could get even better, but I'd at least try a bottle early. Right now it's a sure thing.
1 person found this helpful Comments (5)
2012 Tusk Estates Cabernet Sauvignon USA, California, Napa Valley
97 points
I've had Tusk a number of times, and this is the first time I've ever had it when it wasn't the best wine at the table. I think that is more a reflection of the other wines than a knock against it, because it was exceptional and one person even had it #1. Overall, it was a consensus 4 of 5.

Amazing Pritchard Hill nose of blackberries, liqueur, forest floor and licorice. The mouthfeel on this wine is amazing, just smooth as silk. Stacked and concentrated with great complexity and a very long finish. Where it lost a couple points is at times it felt a bit flabby compared to the other wines. That said, it was also continuing to get better and better over the 12 hours it was open.

A tremendous wine, but QPR wise struggled against less expensive competition. I'd like to open a 2013 among the same group, because it is noticeably better than the 2012.
2 people found this helpful Comments (4)
2013 Fairchild Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Stones No. 2 Pritchard Hill USA, California, Napa Valley
98 points
The Fairchild was 3 of 5 in this group. Not surprisingly, given the vintage and the vineyard, this wine took the longest to come around. Even as we were ending the tasting about 12 hours after first beginning the decant, this wine was getting better and better. At first the nose was super tight and muted, with some notes of licorice, earth and liqueur sneaking out. It was a much different animal than the others on the pallet, a little shy, thin and reticent, but showing a powerful punch as it worked it's way from mid pallet to finish that indicated how much potential was lurking under the surface. It had more tannin, more acid and tons of structure. When it finally started breathing it was really developing into something special, with tremendous mineral driven flavors to compliment the dark fruit.

This is a wine to let sit for a few years. If you want to drink it, I would suggest 12+ hours of decanting. It reminded me a lot of a Shafer HSS, in that it's really structured and won't be coming into its own for a number of years.
2 people found this helpful Comments (2)
2012 Schrader Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon LPV Beckstoffer Las Piedras Vineyard USA, California, Napa Valley
98 points
Had this wine in reserve in case we popped a bad bottle or wanted more wine. Not surprisingly, we ended up wanting more wine. It was Pnp and singing right out of the gate. This was consensus 2 of 5 in our group. I personally had it #3 behind the Fairchild. One person had it #1.

Rich dark red berries with some LPV signature charcoal and scorched earth on a highly aromatic nose. On the pallet, this has a bit more red fruit than the other wines, but is also perhaps the most complex of the group. The fruit quality here is stunning as is the depth of flavors and length. The best showing from a Schrader I've had in a while. I wouldn't hesitate to pop the cork, although it'll probably continue to evolve gracefully.
2 people found this helpful Comments (6)
2014 Myriad Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Beckstoffer Dr. Crane Vineyard 'Elysian' USA, California, Napa Valley
96 points
The Myriad was the consensus #5 of 5, but one person did have it #1. We had an incredibly hard time deciding who was "last", because none of these wines deserved that label. In most tastings, I'd imagine this wine would be WOTN or close to it.

A terrific offering from Mike Smith, especially for the 2014 vintage. This wine showed a lot of similarities to the Carter (not surprising since Mike makes them both), but it lacked the skyscraper like concentration, verve and tension in that wine. The nose is nice and complex, with some licorice, graphite and tons of blue/black fruit. It explodes with fruit on the pallet, but shows good backbone and tannin structure. It is fun to drink, with a great mouthfeel and tons of opulence.
1 person found this helpful Comment


This was easily the best tasting ever for me. All the wines were just exceptional and it was hard to decide where to put them in our overall rankings.

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