2017 Reale Sonoma County Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

The 2017 Sonoma County Reserve from Reale makes an appearance as Notes sneaks up on review #500. This bottle breaks a recent streak of France-based Cabs but doesn’t quite come all the way back to the Napa-based Cabernet Sauvignon that this reviewer (often) finds so enjoyable.

Reale 2017

2017 Reale Sonoma County Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County, California, USA.

Let’s stop for a second. Perhaps this is obvious, but not all California Cabernet is created equal. AVAs have been established specifically to showcase the distinct differences in grapes from one location to another. Case in point—Napa and Sonoma are a stone’s throw from one another but produce very different grapes. Sonoma offerings, for example, have slightly different exposure in coastal sun and soil from their eastern brothers. Sonoma is also almost twice the size of Napa, so there is more diversity among its production, too. 

Part of this comes through in the 2017 Reale, which is a gentle, slightly more tannic expression of the Cabernet Sauvignon grape. This wine is 100 percent Cabernet Sauvignon. It shows plenty of dark berry (e.g., black cherry, blackberry) notes, with a kiss of spices, And I know, I know…Notes sometimes shares a pretty interesting meal or two in context to the vino, but this weekend that’s less a consideration. Suffice it to say the grapes stand on their own merit.

Here are the words of the winemaker: “The wine showcases a ruby color with aromas of red fruits and dark cherry. Hints of red raspberry and black cherry follow with spicy notes of currants, anise, cloves, cedar, and a touch of vanilla.”

This bottle was obtained from an online reseller, and I have only seen it offered once (this occasion) so I’m not sure how easily you can find a similar Reale. If you do, know that it’s a good one, and decent value as you consider its taste versus the cost. I’ll look to order my next and encourage you do to the same. Until then, cheers!

2019 Vienobles Vellas Cabernet Sauvignon

This reviewer is often biased toward new world Cabernet Sauvignon, and each new vintage released by my favorite Napa, Sonoma, and Paso Robles-area winemakers brings me great joy. Discovering (or rediscovering) their nuances is the perfect example of wine therapy. Recently, however, I had the pleasure of the 2018 Mazet de la Palombiere and now this 2019 Vienobles Vellas Cabernet Sauvignon. Both are flat-out excellent!

2019 Vellas
2019 Vienobles Vellas Cabernet Sauvignon, Mas du Pont, France.

The 2019 Vienobles Vellas Cabernet Sauvignon tastes way beyond its price point. There’s an earthy, layered undertone just below the dark cherry and plum surface of this wine. It has great legs and an even finish that begs for your next taste. The deep burgundy colors and gentle aromatics ensure this 2019 makes for a great tasting experience.

Ours came in the context of late Saturday dinner. Charcoal-grilled chicken (nice marinade!) plus peppers, zucchini, and portobello mushrooms served as the backdrop for this Cabernet Sauvignon. It took a while for the coals to provide a suitable bed for the foodstuffs, but they’re probably still going now so that’s a strong alternative to propane. 

A quick word on the winemaker, who sounds to be growing increasingly hot too. The Vellas family, which has been making wine for four generations, has accumulated properties throughout the Languedoc-Roussillon and Roussillon regions of France. The 2019 Vienobles Vellas Cabernet Sauvignon is produced near Montpellier in Mas du Pont. Its fruit comes from regions such as Costiere de Nimes, Coteau Varois, Oc, Saint-Guilhem, Grès, Saint Drézery, Muscat de Lunel, Languedoc, Pic St. Loup, and Faugères.

My wine budget for this month is already spent. If it wasn’t, though, I would be right back to the wine store to grab another case of this. The 2019 Vellas COQ Cabernet is really that good. Enjoy!

2018 Mazet de la Palombiere Cabernet Sauvignon

The 2018 Mazet de la Palombiere Cabernet isn’t a wine you’ll recognize by name. It might catch your eye on the shelf, though, a really cool bottle and label that draw you in for a closer look. Great packaging and presentation do a lot for us as wine consumers!

2018 Manzer de la Palombiere Cabernet

2018 Mazet de la Palombiere Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabardès, Languedoc-Roussillon, France.

Honestly, that’s not how I came to this wine. About a year ago, the tasting banks at my favorite wine store were concealed by numbered aluminum sleeves–all set up to promote a blind taste testing to see who among their consumers could identify the latest Silver Oak Cabernet release. These events are assuredly a big draw for the store and I personally love ’em. If you take a moment to browse Notable Wine Tasting Experiences here on Notes you’ll see this isn’t the first time I’ve joined in such fun.  

At not ONE of these tasting events have I been able to identify the flagship wine, whether for Caymus, Belle Gloss, or Silver Oak (which I’ve tried on two separate occasions). I learn something every time, however, so I’m always grateful for the opportunity.

This last time I thought the 2018 Mazet was Silver Oak. Positive. I would have bet a small sum that I was right and had finally developed a palate sensitive enough to pick out the big $90 wine from the also-rans. Chuckling I tell you I have missed yet again, but the wine I thought the best taste / most worthy of the big price tag was the $12 Mazzet. Boom! Just blew your mind, didn’t I?

The 2018 Mazet Cabernet Sauvignon is full of dark berry flavors; black cherry and plum in huge helpings. There is a bit of tannin presence here but the berry really offsets it well. This fan of new world Cabernet appreciates what’s in the mix here for the Manzer. It’s produced in France, and more specifically the Cabardès region that’s part of the Languedoc-Roussillon appellation. A little research shows me the Languedoc-Roussillon AOC has for years provided cost-effective wines for Parisian cafes and big international companies to bring to wine drinkers globally. Its soils are limestone and even gravel in places; the grapes hang from old wines and grow in a climate that’s dry and windy enough to support non-chemical wine growing. We’re chalking up more points here.

Responsible winemaking? Big, fruit-forward flavor? This one has it all. Tip of the cap to Nicolas Vellas for a really great wine at an even better price. Started out looking for silver but happily stumbled onto gold. Grab a bottle of this (several if you can!) and you’ll thank me later. Cheers!

2015 Yeoman Cabernet Sauvignon, Goldschmidt Vineyards

The holiday this year includes fewer fireworks, but this wine goes off with a big bang* nevertheless. Happy July 4th, friends, so pull up a chair and check out the 2015 Yeoman Cabernet Sauvignon from Goldschmidt Vineyards.

2015 Cabernet Sauvignon - Yeoman Vineyard, Goldschmidt Vineyards

2015 Cabernet Sauvignon – Yeoman Vineyard, Goldschmidt Vineyards, Alexander Valley, California, USA.

We found this Cab in the fine wines section of Raleigh’s version of Wegman’s. Sigh. What a fun field trip to cruise through its well-stocked aisles…even writing this now I’m thinking of the amazing charcuterie awaiting Cara and I later today.

Shortly after sipping a couple delicious watermelon cocktails, we turned our focus to dinner and opened the Goldschmidt while prepping. It’s first impression is black cherry and leather, a heady mix of the bold and the subtle. My favorite wines often weave together such traits, and probably why I often gravitate to California Bordeaux-style Cabs and powerful Syrah.   

The Yoeman Vineyard is specifically a 3-acre plot near Geyersville, a small bit of land that is home to loamy soils and Eastern morning suns. Winemaker Nick Goldschmidt notes that the topography enables extended grape hang time for maximum flavor development—this taster nods appreciatively. The fruit was harvested October 1, 2015, hand-picked and aged 31 months in French Tarasaud barrels.

It’s 100% Cabernet. A powerful red (pours like ruby) that is slightly tannic but not dry; to the contrary it’s lush and full. Little bit of blackberry flavor too. Really great wine. As excited as I was to sample this Goldschmidt, I know in the back of my head that it would be even better if we let it breathe for a couple beats before drinking. That’s a prescription for another day some time off in the future.

Because today we’re celebrating things. Freedom. Time together. And even our dinner—charcoal-grilled strips, grilled asparagus, and a Romaine salad (also grilled!) with anchovy vinaigrette and toasted and buttered panko. Proud to report that we kept the coals crazy hot; they produced not only great steaks but also stayed hot enough to support a couple killer s’mores too.

Sometimes wine IS the occasion, and sometimes you have wine to mark an occasion. On a day this great I’m not sure which applies, but I want more. Bring on the “too much” I’ll take every bit I can get.

 

* Yes, I know it’s a ‘dad’ joke but hey sometimes these things write themselves…

2017 Cabernet Sauvignon, Justin

I’m fairly certain that I had a Justin many years ago, a Reserve or similar high-end split courtesy of my brother George, and that memory sparked my purchase of this 2017 for the holiday weekend. Those memories may be suspect, however, as I do a search and see no results returned. Regardless, the vineyard’s 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon is here for your consumption.

2017 Cabernet Sauvignon, Justin, Paso Robles, California, USA.

Winemaker Scott Shirley does nice work with the 2017, which commemorates 30 years of producing this Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s traditionally crafted, right from the hand-picking of the grapes from their limestone-soiled, Paso Robles vineyards to the hand-sorting and small oak barrel aging (for more than a year) of the fruit. This craftsmanship implies care, quality, and consistent berry quality as well.

In your glass it pours deeply, fragrant purple, with really nice cherry aromas. We taste it and think of earth notes and leather too, so there’s more than some of that in the 2017 vintage. The wine is full and has an excellent mouthfeel and a fresh finish. Loved the taste for the price point, and it went very well with our dinner of grilled (okay, and partly roasted too) chicken thighs, corn, and a delicious rice-black bean recipe that’s years in the making.

Here’s your notes from the winemaker: “Dry, nearly full bodied, with ripe black cherry, cassis and red fruit, baking spice and oak accents on entry with sustained ripe primary and mostly black fruit, dried autumn leaf, cocoa and a pleasant suggestion of camphor on the mid-palate into the finish.”

I purchased this bottle from a grocery I (unfortunately!) don’t often frequent so I’m not sure how often the Justin will make an appearance in Notes. I’ll look forward to the occasions that it does. Try one for yourself!

2017 Decoy Cabernet Sauvignon, Decoy Wines

The Decoy. Having had the complete pleasure of tasting the Duckhorn Cab flagship for my birthday (thanks bro), I pulled this  bottle from the shelf of my local grocery store when looking for options to start off the weekend. The Decoy is also a favorite of my best friend, for him a cellar defender that gets a lot of run. Now I know why.  

2017 Cabernet Sauvignon, Decoy
2017 Decoy Cabernet Sauvignon, Decoy Vines, Sonoma County, California, USA.

The wine is really nice, a plum-infused and blackberry treat. Definite dark fruits on the nose and on your palate! The 2017 is even and balanced, a medium red that has a simple finish. You’ll find yourself trying to access other tastes, other ways of describing what’s in store here in the 2017 Duckhorn, because it’s a Cabernet Sauvignon with subtleties that continue to occur to you as you make your way through the glass.

The 2017 Decoy Cabernet Sauvignon from Duckhorn Vineyards is produced in Sonoma County, one of my favorite AVAs on this little planet of ours. Cara and I had this one with roasted chicken, accented with lemon and garlic, as well as roasted sweet potato, carrots, and fennel. Oh yeah, with an arugula and onion salad too. The wine was well paired with our meal and enjoyed by us both.

Here’s a description from the winemaker: “Aromas of blackberry, boysenberry, cigar box, toffee, and mint lead to fresh dark berry and red currant flavors and dried herbs.”

All that comes from the blend, a mix of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, and others. It’s an enjoyable one and accessible from a price and value standpoint. Get a couple of these for yourself and we’ll compare notes. 

 

2018 Cabernet Sauvignon, Daou Vineyards

This 2018 Daou Cabernet Sauvignon makes a vertical here in Notes, with the 2016 and 2017 having received previous attention from this wine fan. As neither of those received a worthy summary, I’m going to take a few moments this Sunday afternoon to share feedback for those of you who’ve yet to taste a Daou Cab.

2018 Cabernet Sauvignon, Daou Vineyards, Paso Robles, California, USA.

This wine is great value for the price, a striking red that is not cloyingly sweet or artificially spiced. Red fruit flavors do abound, and you’ll have no trouble detecting cherry in your glass or maybe even raspberry too. The 2018 vintage finishes easy on your palate and has a smooth, even character.

The 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon from Daou Vineyards pours ruby red in your glass and does not need much time to breathe and open up. It’s totally feasible to just uncork, pour, and enjoy. This particular bottle accompanied a simple seared chicken breast, kicked up with a spice blend of rosemary, basil, sundried tomato, orange peel powder, and a few others. Yes, it feels like summer here in the south so corn of the cob was part of the mix too, and a wedge salad with just the right accents of onion, tomato, bacon, and blue cheese.

The wine wove a warm red ribbon through the whole of it, and I was glad to share all this goodness with great company. Yes, that same great company whipped me in Gin, but I felt lucky nevertheless. This Daou is readily available, and you can find it (probably) as easily in your grocery store as you can your favorite wine retailer, whether brick and mortar or online. I’m sorry to see it go and looking forward to my next one already. Enjoy your Sunday…

2018 Unshackled Cabernet Sauvignon, The Prisoner Wine Company

Unshackled is a typical Prisoner wine–a delicious big red blend that kicks serious tail. It’s an approach to winemaking that has made me a fan of Dave Phinney wines since I first tasted the Prisoner, all his recent productions through Orin Swift Cellars, and certainly the diverse Thorn, Saldo, and Cuttings bottles I’ve had experienced courtesy of Chrissy Wittmann, the current Director of Winemaking at The Prisoner Wine Company. If you have followed Notes for any period of time, you’ll know that my favorite three winemakers are Buena Vista, Orin Swift, and The Prisoner Wine Company, and bottles from each appear here with regularity. 

2018 Unshackled Cabernet Sauvignon, The Prisoner Wine Company

2018 Unshackled Cabernet Sauvignon, The Prisoner Wine Company, St. Helena, California, USA.

Unshackled I tasted earlier this year but did not take a moment to memorialize any tasting notes, so this is a first run at it. Unshackled is big fruit, big Cabernet Sauvignon from California. While it is not quite a “tooth stainer”,  Unshackled does pack in plum and dark berry in plentiful supply. Cherry or perhaps some black cherry notes too. It is smooth, neither too dry nor too sweet, and easy drinking right now; this bottle I didn’t age at all but hit it right after purchasing from my favorite wine store. This wine combines grapes grown from along the north and central coast of California (e.g., Monterey, San Benito, Paso Robles, Lodi, Sonoma, Dry Creek, Mendocino, Redwood Valley), and they are aged for 10 months in both French and American oak by the Prisoner team. This is the official word from TPWC:

Aromas of plum and blackberry with a hint of olive. Vibrant flavors of black stone fruit and dried herbs with solid tannin structure result in a flavor-forward Cabernet Sauvignon with balanced acidity.

We had the 2018 Unshackled with fresh salmon and a Greek-style farro, a light meal that was well-accented by this Cab blend (which includes Petite Sirah, Syrah, and Merlot too). The price point on Unshackled is done right too–it keeps you from dipping into your weekday cellar defenders or from having to level up to your single-vineyard Napa hallmarks. A great wine overall, and a tasting experience I’ll look forward to again soon.