2018 The Fabric of the Land, Quilt Winery

Quilt wine was first shared with me several Thanksgivings ago (thanks Potter!) and I enjoyed that big Cabernet Sauvignon right away. Notes should have reviewed that bottle at least once since (I’ve enjoyed a couple), and when I saw The Fabric of the Land was available at my favorite local wine store*, I made sure to add a bottle to a recent order.

Suffice it to say, the Fabric made its appearance last night, a welcome reward for working with my hands throughout the afternoon. There’s something to be said…something primary…something elemental for putting your hands in the dirt and planting while a kind sun beams down on you. I had bare feet in warm grass–occasionally wet grass–that felt equally rich for my overly desked body, and I was appreciative of the opportunity to shape the world around Cara and me for a few hours.

Neither of us felt like cooking for the first time in weeks, so we decided to pick up barbecue from Picnic and have that with the Fabric. We split a kale salad, potato salad, and slaw to varying degrees; she opted for pulled pork (which was great) and I went with the brisket. The brisket was only average, but thankfully the wine was above average. And that’s good, right? After all, this is a wine blog first and foremost.

2018 The Fabric of the Land, Quilt Winery, Napa Valley, California, USA.

2018 The Fabric of the Land, Quilt Winery, Napa Valley, California, USA.

The Fabric of the Land is produced by Quilt, which is part of Copper Cane in Napa Valley, California. Right on the bottle the Quilt team proudly promotes the mix of Merlot, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, and Petit Verdot grapes that go into this big red (French Oak barreled) blend. Quilt selects these grapes from across Napa Valley, including the Oak Knoll and Calistoga areas of this rich AVA.

When combined, you get a nice even, fruity blend. The Merlot is soft and gentle; the Sirah definitely adds some of the spice notes you’ll detect on your palate. It’s obviously less of a Cabernet or Petite Sirah taste and much more of a Bordeaux-style that reminded me of Conundrum. (I picked up one of those too in the recent wine run, and that new vintage we’ll assuredly cover in the days ahead.) In your glass the Fabric is dark cherry, and it has that flavor to it too, along with definite black raspberry afterthoughts. Here’s how the Quilt team articulated that idea:

“Full-bodied and complex flavors of tart raspberry, blackberry, dark chocolate, and light notes of spice. This wine as a long finish with a smooth and velvety mouthfeel.”

Honestly, I get more of the cherry than raspberry but that’s simply this guy’s take. Quilt wines are well-packaged and well-marketed, including this new personality added to the Wagner family roster. You’ll enjoy, so be sure to pick up a couple the next time you can stop by your local wine store. Enjoy!

* Yes, this was a safe, controlled-environment curbside transfer…thanks COVID-19 for that extra wrinkle.

2016 Duckhorn Cabernet Sauvignon,Duckhorn Wine Company

Yeah, this is birthday wine, and grapes done well. Big shout out to my brother Steve for the amazing hookup–this was an unexpected surprise and much appreciated!

If you’re following this Notes journey, you may have realized the Italian wines about which I’ve recently written were not in fact consumed in the hillsides of Montepulciano but rather here in NC while looking wistfully overseas. In the spirit of solidarity, I’ve tried to embrace those grapes but they are not as near or dear to my heart as is a Napa Cab. Brother, this is exactly what the doctor ordered!

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2016 Duckhorn Cabernet Sauvignon, Duckhorn Wine Company, Napa Valley, California, USA.

So here we are: birthday dinner. This one checks all the boxes. The perfect date? Yes. Steak? Yes. Asparagus and crispy crowns? Check! And a lovely Napa Cab–this is about a good a day you can have in the middle of a workweek slash pandemic. (Yes, my favorite movie is queued up too…of course I honor traditions always, and hell yes to thine own self be true…)

The Duckhorn has a host of great qualities, and great brand awareness too–deservedly so. It’s pleasantly fragrant when uncorked, an oaky, plum that’s completely enticing. Even before pouring, I know it’s a much heartier wine than the Nebbiolos I’ve been recently sampling. In the glass it’s ruby red, nearly purple. This Cab is more dark fruit than red…more plum and blackberry than dark cherry…and has really nice, subtle notes of spice to it too. I love it immediately, as does Cara. The best sip is your first, and the worst is your last…because…well…

A Duckhorn Cab is one of those reasons you push through a tough workday, slog through challenging work, bosses, and clients. It’s the way you reward yourself for taking it all on, headfirst and like a man, for answering the bell each new round. I’m so appreciative of the gift, and for the occasion. Looking forward to my next, and sending big thanks to you all who took time to make an impact on my day.

2017 Orlaida, Gil Family wines

This is a bottle, according to my best source at winestore, that far outperforms its modest price tag. He’s a huge advocate and claims to put away a case of this himself each time the store orders more. I usually select wines for different reasons but that was one of many compelling reasons that the 2017 Orlaida came home with me yesterday.

2017 Orlaida, Gil Family wines, Montsant, Spain.

2017 Orlaida, Gil Family wines, Montsant, Spain.

The 2017 Orlaida comes from the Gil Family winery in the Jumilla region of Spain. The grapes are grown more than 2,000 feet above sea level in the area of Cornudella de Montsant, where the soils are supposed to be reminiscent of pro-Priorate terroir. The wine is a blend of Garnacha and Carinena grapes, dark fruit flavors with just a hint of spice in its underpinnings. I’ve heard others talk of a vanilla note or too in the Orlaida, but here in the 2017 I don’t detect that at all. I’ll tell you that what I like about Syrah wines is what I enjoy about this Orlaida…


Mexican-spiced shrimp tacos with guac and spicy cabbage slaw.

The 2017 Orlaida accompanied Mexican-spiced shrimp tacos, with guacamole and spicy cabbage slaw. Though you’d probably offset the spices of this meal with a clean white, I generally eschew whites in favor of reds—as here. I thought the smoky flavor of the shrimp paired nicely with this Spanish red and would encourage you to do the tacos or the wine when you can. Made for a great Saturday bite and hopefully does the same for your table or family too.

Breaking out of the slump

I know, I know…it’s been quiet. Too quiet. Life has been in the way too often over the last several weeks, and I appreciate anyone who has stayed with Notes over this gap. We’ll be back with a vengeance soon enough in 2017…here’s a glimpse of some of the goodness on tap for the coming year.


California Cab, of course, and several old-world wines lining up for the coming future.

Thank you for your readership and stay tuned!

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2012 Simi Winery Cabernet Sauvignon

The Alexander Valley I’ve “visited” on several previous occasions. Among the 30 or so vineyards of this Sonoma County AVA are Clos du Bois, Francis Ford Coppola, Rodney Strong, and Simi Winery–who produced this bold 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon.

2012 Simi Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley

2012 Simi Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, California, USA.

Tonight this Cab accompanied black and blue bacon cheeseburgers, tossed beds of greens with mustard, and crispy crowns potatoes. The blackberry flavors, tinged with subtle inferences of spice, were a juicy accent to the burgers. The Simi Winery Cabernet Sauvignon smelled almost tart in the glass, but its actual finish was far gentler and more even than its nose suggested. My wife expressed this idea far more eloquently than I am here but, like this enjoyable bottle of red, her words were fleeting and I have lost them to time and space.

Here’s how the vineyard conveyed: “Balanced flavors of red and black fruits, smooth tannins, and soft spice give way to a velvety finish.” They used fruit from Los Amigos and Red Fan, and other Alexander Valley Vineyards (e.g., Encinos, Big River, Hoot Owl Creek, and Belle Terre) to develop the final flavors in this Cabernet, which is actually a red blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot, 1% Petit Verdot, 1% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Malbec. (It’s the Malbec and Verdot that convey the spices, if you’re curious…)

Last couple things: the grapes fermented 32 days in stainless steel (on the skins) and ultimately aged 16 months in small oak barrels–releasing in June of 2014. It’s a good value for the price, and the 2012 Simi Cab should be readily available in your local wine store. I’d pick up another and recommend you do the same.



2012 Silver Palm Cabernet Sauvignon

Silver Palm is a new Cabernet Sauvignon to this taster, and one I was glad to try this December weekend. It’s label is definitely an attention-grabber, its platinum inlay and metallic finish an inviting beacon on the shelf of our local wine store.

2012 Silver Palm, Cabernet Sauvignon, North Coast, California, USA.

2012 Silver Palm, Cabernet Sauvignon, North Coast, California, USA.

We know that 2012 was a favorable year for California Cab, and that’s evident here in this dark ruby red wine. It has a definite cherry taste to it, and it is substantive. There are spices on the nose, and I’m drinking it from a Reidel glass made specifically for Cab Sauv. I think that helps bring out some of the nuances here. The finish is soft and silky; the tannins even and firm.

Says the winemaker, “We select grapes from some of the finest coastal vineyards in Northern California and, with traditional and cutting-edge artisan winemaking techniques, craft a sumptuous, seamless Cabernet.

Enjoyed very much, both last evening with pan-seared steaks and broccoli, and again tonight with Mexican chicken soup. The 2012 Silver Palm Cabernet Sauvignon will go great with your steaks, your ribs, and virtually any meal seasoned with pepper. Or with none–just grab a bottle and give it a try.