Blind Cabernet Retrospective

Chicago, IL

Tasted January 1, 2010 by psmith with 661 views


New Year's Day Cali Cabernets of the 2000s Retrospective. Wines were served in flights blind to the participants, who were asked to rate them using a 100 point scale (M refers to my rating, G to group average). I don't normally score wines, so while are certainly made with reference to this scale, they're probably more useful as a relative rating among these wines than an absolute measure of quality (e.g., 80 was my lowest rating and is reflective of the fact that I didn't like this [flawed] wine, rather than the standard "good" that an 80 is meant to represent).

Flight 1 (4 notes)

Flight 1

2004 Carina Cellars Iconoclast USA, California
Cabernet-Syrah blend (~70% Cab). Dark fruits, graphite notes, with some vanilla and chocolate oak influence. Ripe, bold wine. Fine tannins. Some heat. Syrah not particularly evident. M92/G92.3
2004 Rivers-Marie Cabernet Sauvignon USA, California, Napa Valley
Dark, ripe fruits and vanilla notes. Ripe and forward. A bit muted on the palate with some restrained green notes showing through. M93/G93.9
2002 Anderson's Conn Valley Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Reserve USA, California, Napa Valley
More classic styling and less overt ripeness. Red fruits. Very fine tannins. Some heat comes through on the finish. M91/G92.6
2004 Terlato Vineyards Episode USA, California, Napa Valley, Rutherford
Some dark and blue fruit notes. Good weight. Firm structure. Ripe. Modern styling. M93/G91.9

Flight 2 (4 notes)

Flight 2

2006 Hourglass Cabernet Sauvignon USA, California, Napa Valley
Dark, sexy, ripe wine. Loads of chocolate with some floral undertones. Fine tannins. Some heat but not overdone. M95/G94.5
2003 Delectus Cuvée Julia USA, California, Napa Valley
Some coffee grounds and mint notes. Sharp, fine, gripping tannins. Rich red fruits. Young. Big wine. M93/G93.5
2002 Robert Foley Claret USA, California, Napa Valley
Cool, blue fruits and chocolate. Weighty. A bit clipped on the finish. Firm tannins. M95/G93.9
2005 Switchback Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon Peterson Family Vineyard USA, California, Napa Valley
Really ripe, to the point of portyness. Dark. Some VA on the finish. Dark fruits. M89/G92.9

Flight 3 (4 notes)

Flight 3

2004 Harlan Estate USA, California, Napa Valley
Chocolate and dark fruit notes. Porty and sweet. Fine tannins. Some VA and lots of alcohol. Over the top. Better integration with time. M87/G90.8
1997 Araujo Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Eisele Vineyard USA, California, Napa Valley
VA. Dull flavors and tannins. Strange superposition of youthful fruit and older notes. Seems cooked. M80/G87.6
2005 Robert Foley Claret USA, California, Napa Valley
Dark with sweet red fruit undertones. Relatively coarse tannins. Lots of alcohol evident. M92/G93.6
2006 D.R. Stephens Cabernet Sauvignon Premiere Napa Valley Lot 203 USA, California, Napa Valley
Red fruit shows nice restraint but lacks some in body. Fine tannins. Some heat. M91/G92.0

Flight 4 (4 notes)

Flight 4 - All provided by the host for the final flight but still served blind to the tasters (where the host didn't know the order).

2004 Maybach Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Materium USA, California, Napa Valley, Oakville
Muted nose - some red fruit hints. Rich, pure palate. High pitched minty, fine tannins. Hot. Weighty palate. M92/G92.8
2004 Abreu Thorevilos USA, California, Napa Valley
Chocolate and dark, sweet fruits. Big wine. Fine, minty tannins. Weighty, full-bodied wine. Came together better with time. M92/G92.9
2003 Harlan Estate USA, California, Napa Valley
Chocolate covered cherry and red/black fruit notes. Some heat, but not overdone. Pure flavors. Fine tannins. Weighty. M94/G94.4
2003 Harlan Estate The Maiden USA, California, Napa Valley
Some pine notes. Restrained red fruits. Raw, coarse tannins. Alcohol in check. M93/G93.3

Flight 5 (2 notes)

A couple of additions from the host - we were told the wines but they were blinded so it was unclear which was which. I think most tasters were able to pick out the CdP from the New World wine.

2007 Saxum James Berry Vineyard USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
Anise and spice. Really big, with lots of heat showing. Floral, sweet fruit. Some tar notes. Full-bodied, flashy wine. Masked structure. Needs to settle down.
2007 Clos Saint Jean Châteauneuf-du-Pape Deus-Ex Machina France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Really big wine. Leather, anise, floral - lots happening on the nose. Rocket fuel palate - huge body and lots of heat. Great aromatics, but needs time to settle down. Fun wine - very different take on CdP.


Great time - lots of generosity shown by the host and other tasters.

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