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.

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Winter 2018 – The Ones That Got Away

Got Away Q4 2018

2016 Karoly’s Selection Petite Syrah Sonoma County, Buena Vista Winery, Sonoma, California, USA; 2016 The Sheriff, Buena Vista Winery, Sonoma, California, USA; E5 Locations Wines, Napa, California, USA; 2016 Meiomi Pinot Noir, Rutherford, California, USA; 2016 Daou Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles, California, USA; 2016 Conundrum, Conundrum Wines, Rutherford, California, USA.

2016 Machete Red Wine, Orin Swift Cellars

Machete. The start of my spiral down into Orin Swift wines…the wine I still count as responsible for my descent into Dave Phinney’s genius, and still appreciate Jamie for sharing with me (indirectly) and George (directly) for my first sample. Um, my wallet says “thanks” fellas!

2016 Machete Red Wine, Orin Swift Cellars, St. Helena, California, USA.

2016 Machete Red Wine, Orin Swift Cellars, St. Helena, California, USA.

This is a shared wine, and that always makes for better grapes. This 2016 bottle of Machete came to me as part of a Milk Run, and I have high hopes for the next such release–now that we’ve hit the fall it must be coming soon, yes? Anyways, let’s talk about the here and now.

This 2016 Machete accompanied oven-broiled, pan-seared steaks (pulled just at the right time), roasted Brussel sprouts, and a baked potato. We thought the wine delicious, a shared experience of blackberry and dark fruits. The Machete is a compelling beverage, beckoning you on to more even if you’re not usually an aficionado of red wine.

And that was the case here. I love the Machete not only for its funky pop culture street cred, but also for its robust blackberry and minerality. It’s not mountain fruit, to be sure, but has hallmarks that you’ll appreciate if you gravitate in any way toward the Napa Mountains.

I’m thankful to have another 3 of these in the racks today. The 2016 Machete is a powerful, inky bomb that you’ll love. I know I do, and this one will stick with me for some time.

 

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.

 

 

 

2015 Antal’s Selection Zinfandel, Buena Vista Winery

Buena Vista Winery has been in my life for nearly 15 years at this point, and each time I’m reminded of my first exposure to wines in their Sonoma tasting room. That’s an era before social media and some of the viral marketing that the Buena Vista now uses to attract visitors to one of the state’s oldest wineries. Probably a cheaper fee for admission, too…

2015 Antal's Selection Zinfandel, Buena Vista Winery, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California, USA.

2015 Antal’s Selection Zinfandel, Buena Vista Winery, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California, USA.

Several of their newer releases have won awards in regional competition and, while I don’t think the 2015 Antal’s Selection Zinfandel was among them, it earned raves from me nevertheless when I opened this evening. I’d been sipping a Grenache-Syrah blend from the Rhone for most of this week (very pedestrian…still have to write that up), so this Buena Vista Zinfandel was like a shot of adrenaline to my taste buds. I opened it while jamming on some final work obligations for the week and decided to go all out, opting for the decanter and that whole production as well.

Seemed like good decisions all around. The wine opened up really well, releasing notes of cherry and strawberry almost immediately. Great aromas in the glass and even better at the taste. It kicked with a little something, more innate and nuanced than sometimes I sense in the market-leading David bottle. I ate a simple cheese tortellini dish with this wine, accented with a bit of butter and olive oil. The wine was really the headliner of this whole setup, and longtime readers of Notes know that Friday is often “wine reward” nite for surviving the ever-evolving challenges of the work week.

Baldacchi Vineyard (reputedly with 100-year old vines) produced the grapes used for this 2015 Zin, which pours dark red in the glass. Again, a nice contrast to the Chateau Rochecolumbe bottle that is relatively pale by comparison. Here’s how the winery described what’s at play in the Antal: “Richly layered flavors of strawberry and currant are complemented by notes of graham cracker and mocha leading to a spreading finish with a slightly savory note.”

I’ll just say it was great! Buena Vista produced 401 cases of the 2015 Antal’s Selection Zinfandel, so I’m not sure how easy it will be to score some after all the wine club shipments go out but you’d be glad if you find it. Mine was bottle #2249–love the individual numbering and this wine overall!