2015 Cuttings Cabernet Sauvignon, The Prisoner Wine Company

A busy and productive Saturday gets capped off with one of my favorite wine bottles, the Cuttings Cabernet Sauvignon. Dog swap? Check. Productive work around the house? Check. Lots of healthy walking? Check. Dallas Cowboys playoff football? Check!

2015 Cuttings Cabernet Sauvignon, The Prisoner Wine Company, Oakville, California, USA.

2015 Cuttings Cabernet Sauvignon, The Prisoner Wine Company, Oakville, California, USA.

I first sampled the Cuttings Cabernet over a year ago during a blind taste testing of Dave Phinney wines, and it’s been a go-to for me on special occasions–or even when it’s been time to make a special occasion. It’s bordeaux-style,* presenting not just king Cab but also some Syrah and Zin grapes that add nice layers that you taste while sipping contentedly. Yes this creates some spice undertones that you’ll appreciate! But mostly it’s big, jammy bomb of fruit flavor…

Here’s how the winemaker describes: “Deliciously smooth with flavors of blueberry, dark cherry, and cocoa. Aromas of fresh roasted coffee, black currant, vanilla bean, brown spice, and wild berries.

I had the Cuttings with grilled chicken and a green salad that I pulled together; arugula and iceberg lettuce, yellow onion, green olives, and fresh ground black pepper sprinkled over blue cheese dressing. Great mix of tastes and textures between the hot and cold elements, and well-accompanied by the Cuttings. Importantly, the Cowboys played the ‘hawks tough and came away with a big home victory. I toasted their success more than once.

The Cuttings has been firmly entrenched in my Top 5 ever since I first sampled. Hoping you have the chance to do the same…it’ll make your Best Of list too. Thanks for reading and let’s go Big D!
*Cuttings is a blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and a 20% blend of Petite Sirah, Syrah, and Zinfandel.

Mountain Veeder Winery Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

This is a bottle intended for special occasions. I’ll always remember why I bought it, and then again why I decided to open it this particular evening. Life is a series of adventures and we learn from them all…in time.

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Mountain Veeder Winery Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Oakville, California, USA.

It’s an exclusive, just one of 120 bottles (#86 specifically–check the label) produced by Napa Valley’s best-known vintners as they work to promote, protect, and enhance the Napa Valley appellation. I’ve never had wine from Mt. Veeder previously, and I’m curious to know how this stands as a representative sample. Full disclosure: I did NOT let it breathe adequately when I first uncorked it. My first glass had an extra tannin finish that I didn’t really relish, but it opened nicely over the course of the evening.

Here’s a little promo from the bottle: “As few as 60 and never more than 240 bottles of each Premiere Napa Valley wine are made, allowing the vintner to select from their finest sources, break with tradition, and come up with an offering that is truly handcrafted with a personal expression of their style.” You can see how it caught my eye, right?

I had this wine with a very simple meal–beef and potato–and thought about all the inky red goodness swirling about my Cabernet glass. This Mount Veeder Winery Estate Cabernet was not jammy but still filled with cherry and plum flavors. Once the tannins slid to the background you could catch notes of pepper and other spices on the nose too. I’ve heard the term “mountain wine” used on such bottles in the past, and that tip to the terroir I understand in context of this 2014.

And it was good, too. Really enjoyed it. But I had sort of expected better, and I can tell you this didn’t crack my Top 10, for 2018 and certainly not my all-time list. It’s a rare enough bottle that you might not be able to find this same vintage and that’s probably okay–there are plenty of outstanding wines at this threshold if you were feeling so inclined.

 

 

 

2016 Red Hill Ranch Cabernet, Laurel Glen Vineyard

A man, his dog, fire, and great grapes…no, not the start of some joke but rather a great way to spend a Saturday Happy Hour. In this case, the vino is the 2016 Red Hill Ranch Cabernet from Laurel Glen Vineyard. It’s a single-vineyard Cab harvested from Sonoma Mountain, and the Laurel Glen team produced just 250 cases of this “Proprietor’s Blend Special Cuvee.”

2016 Red Hill Ranch Cabernet, Laurel Glen Vineyard, Sonoma Mountain, California, USA.

2016 Red Hill Ranch Cabernet, Laurel Glen Vineyard, Glen Ellen, California, USA.

I’m guessing you like the photo* but let’s hit some quick research before you get bored. Sonoma Mountain is an extinct volcano located about 20 miles from the Pacific, one of those amazing California spots were you get long periods of sunlight on the vines, and cooling winds as well. Always bears well for the fruit, and virtually every wine from the region. Feels like the very definition of terroir. The hand-picked grapes are fermented for 18 months in a combination of new and older oak barrels, and the result is this 2016 Red Hill Ranch Cabernet. The vineyard’s website does a nice job of describing their process and philosophy in equal measures.

I started the bottle last night after a long work week (I know, I know…they all are…) but really had a chance to think about its taste today while fireside. My wood pile was filled with branches downed from storms Florence and Michael, and that pile is much smaller today as I indulged in my inner pyromaniac and oenophile simultaneously. It’s a deep red wine, one that imparts notes of plum, black cherry, and spicy undertones upon tasting. The Red Hill Ranch is wonderfully fragrant and I found myself rolling it around in the glass just taking it in…

I snatched up a few of these bottles (thanks for the good value, winestore team!) and look forward to sampling another as the fall season makes great reds so enjoyable. Hoping you have an opportunity to do the same. Thanks for reading.

*The perfectionist in me hates the streak marring the label, yes, but hoping the rest of the composition resonates for you.