2016 Juggernaut Hillside Cabernet Sauvignon, Juggernaut Wine Co.

This is the 2016 Juggernaut Hillside Cabernet and yes, for those of you asking, this guy can be swayed by cool branding. Check out this crazy fierce label! It’s as big as the wine itself, and you’ll do well to go looking for it in your favorite wine store / source.

Juggernaut

2016 Juggernaut Hillside Cabernet Sauvignon, Clarksburg, California, USA.

The Juggernaut is produced by the Bogle family, and you know they’ve been at this game for quite some time. My winestore source said they’ve been growing grapes for winemaking since 1968 and in the Clarksburg area in particular. Here they combine grapes from the North Coast, Livermore Valley, Alexander Valley, and the Sierra Foothills–all hillside terrior and vineyards going into this luscious bottle. Obviously with all the hillside talk you have this inference of “hard growing” and “extreme” (and hell, isn’t just about every vineyard photo you see on some kind of a mountain?!?) but know for our purposes it ultimately translates into really nice, easy-drinking California cab. Yes hillside can mean fewer grapes and smaller berries, but that also means concentrated flavors and complexity in the wine itself.

Not every hillside wine gets this right, but the Juggernaut does. There is big, dark blackberry-type flavors in the 2016, and maybe just a whiff of vanilla too. I suspect the new French oak barrels (its aged 12-18 months) have something to do with that. The 2016 Juggernaut (I have two more of these) is really nice value for the price. It’s accessible wine, both for your wallet and your palate. I enjoyed over a couple of nights and will look forward to the next such occasion. Thanks for following Notes and feel free to share with a friend.

 

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…

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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.

2016 Sailor’s Grave Cabernet Sauvignon, Michael Possan Wines

Napa Valley Cab–such a favorite of mine and even more so when it’s shared with interesting company. In my mind, great grapes are always paired best with great conversation. (Okay, okay…a perfectly grilled NY strip makes a strong argument too, I’ll grant you that…) And with that said, here’s the 2016 Sailor’s Grave Cabernet Sauvignon.

2016 Sailor’s Grave Cabernet Sauvignon, Michael Possan Wines, Napa Valley, California, USA.

This vintage gets its backbone from Cabernet Sauvignon (76%) but also mixes in the Merlot (20%), Cabernet Franc (2%), and Petite Verdot (2%). I couldn’t recognize the Verdot in the equation, as the fullness of the Cab and Merlot really drive this red. It’s rich, and there are definite blackberry and black cherry flavors in the 2016 Sailor’s Grave. It’s more red, less inky, and less purple overall than the Buena Vista Sheriff that was recently profiled here in Notes. Little whiff of something else too that I can’t quite place…is it spice box? Leather? I am not sure but that’s okay…my mind is on other things even as I sample.

The first vintage of Sailor’s Grave Cabernet Sauvignon was released in 2010, and glad to taste that steady process of evolution and refinement here in the ’16. Really fun to get lost in a world of great ambiance, wine, and company. This time matters.

2017 The Sheriff of Buena Vista, Buena Vista Winery

The Sheriff of Buena Vista has become one of my favorite red blends, and it’s made annual appearances on Notes. Feedback on the 2016, 2015, and 2013 are all here for easy access but know now each is a bold, full-flavored powerhouse. This is big flavors that you sort of need to balance against something as weighty–or not.

 

2017 The Sheriff of Buena Vista, Buena Vista Winery, Sonoma County, California, USA.

 

This vintage runs back the formula that worked so effectively in the 2016. I’m betting the response from consumers was such that the team at Buena Vista decided, “If it ain’t broke then don’t fix it.” Here is a mix of Petite Sirah (34%), Cabernet Sauvignon (33%), Grenache (14%), Syrah (11%), Petite Verdot (5%), Mission (2%), and Cabernet Franc (1%), and it conveys big blackberry and plum from your glass. Darker notes of chocolate and spice are pretty evident too. See what I mean about the overall weight of this bad boy?

Here’s how the winemaker sourced this year’s Sheriff: “The varietals that compose 2017 vintage are harvested from vineyards throughout the county, including the Sonoma Valley, Russian River Valley, Moon Mountain, Sonoma Mountain, Fountaingrove, Chalk Hill, Alexander Valley, and Rockpile. The individual varietals were aged separately for 10 months in a variety of new and neutral oak barrels before being blended prior to bottling.

Hmm. No shout out to Dry Creek this year. This wine is aged in French, American, and Hungarian oak (15% new oak). I never see it on the shelves of my local wine stores but seems readily available through Buena Vista (I’m a tenured member and long-time fan). Tip of the cap to this good Sonoma County friend and enjoy.