Cabernet Day was August 30th and it brought eight tasters to enjoy and evaluate eight wines. The field of wines presented were from Argentina, California and Washington. The group montra was to find quality Cabernet at any level and discuss how the wine developed while tasting them. Most of the wines tasted were the result of contacts throught the recent Wine Bloggers Convention in Portland as well as considerations from a local importer. They had no strings attached and were more than willing to see how their wines would do in a local tasting. For their support we thank them.
The wines were opened one hour prior to the tasting and this proved to be not enough time. As the tasting progressed many of the wines opened up and showed much more in flavors and finish as opposed to the beginning. One general thought was that the Argentine wines showed try tannins and were not the oak driven style of wines common today in upper end California Cabernets. As time passed the Argentine wines gained in flavor and showed much more than at the start.
There was one Washington wine and it turned out to be the favorite of the day. Milbrandt Vineyards Traditions 2010 which is rated a best buy by Wine Spectator showed a medium body and very fine and not course tannins. It is very drinkable now and for the short term. The best part of the wine is that it is only $15 a bottle at full retail. Their problem in the Bay Area is limited availablity due to lack of a wholesaler. That should not be a problem in the future as they produce a good quantity of wine and the prices are extremely fair.
The Argentine wines were in the middle of the pack and the clear standouts were Tikal Jubilo 2009 which retails for $40 a wine with much body and a nice mix of oak and complex fruit aromas. Another hit is the widely available Catena Cabernet Sauvignon 2010. This is the mid-level Catena wine which retails for $20 and is much more complex and flavor packed than their entry level wines. As with any Catena wine it is well made and a very reliable food wine. This was one of the wines which just opened up after another hour, it displayed fruit at the sides of the palate and finished with a lingering after taste. Another winner was Hermanos 2011 which was a 70/30 blend of Cabernet and Malbec. This wine was different in that it is grown in the highest elevation area of Argentina the provence of Salta/Cafayate. This beauty retails for only $15 and represents a lively red with easy drinkablity and the right balance of fruit and acidity and not overly tannic.
Our last wine was a generous donation from one of our tasters Jim A. He brought a bottle of Robert Mondavi 1985 Reserve Cabernet. This was to showcase two things: what age can do for a California Cabernet and the taste of a lower alcohol wine (12%). What we experienced was a wonderful wine with subtle Cabernet flavors and a multi layered mouth feel. It was all you could ask for in aged Napa Cabernet.
In summary Cabernet Day was a success in all aspects. We found an excellent dollar value from Washington and some excellent Argentine wines which for the money represent value to red wine drinkers. The finishing bottle of aged California Cabernet was a fine end to a day dedicated to the glories of the varietal Cabernet Sauvignon.