2007 Hannah Nicole Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon

2007 Hannah Nicole Vineyards Cabernet SauvignonPrice: $26.00 via Hannah Nicole Vineyards

What They Said:

Per Hannah Nicole Vineyards “Our 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon boasts aromas of pepper and plum, with hints of smoked toasted
walnuts and fine leather. The finish coats your palate with fine tannins that linger, a taste which will hunger you for a fine cut of choice beef, a perfect accompaniment to this luscious Cabernet Sauvignon”

What I Think:

(13.8%) 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot – A touch green (olives) initially with nice berries, baking spice on chocolate on the nose. Lively on the palate with plum and black pepper flavors. The acidity keep this medium bodied (and very food friendly) before the barrel creaminess kicks in on finish that dries out as it lingers with lasting tannins. For those that like “big” Cabs you might not find this ripe enough or lush enough. That said I found the fruit flavors nice and balanced without being over the top big. My tip? Be sure to open and decant this a few hours before you intend to enjoy.

Wine Geek Notes: 900 cases made; aged for 30 months in new and one year old oak (French & American)

Rating: Nice but… (while enjoyable there are others I prefer at $26 like the Broadside Cabernet)

2008 Golan Heights Winery Cabernet Sauvignon

Israeli Wine RegionsNext up for #CabernetDay is a bottling from an unexpected region; my first wine from Israel. Wine has been produced here since biblical times but you might be surprised to learn (as I was) that the birth of the modern Israeli wine industry has ties to the famous French chateau; Château Lafite-Rothschild, whose family helped establish some of the early vineyards and opened two wineries around 1882.

Today, wine in Israel is predominately grown in five regions with Galil, where our wine from today hails, being the most well known. It comes courtesy of Golan Heights Winery is located in the small town of Katzrin, high up on the Golan Heights where it was founded in 1983. They make about 380,000 cases, spanning premium varietals, proprietary blends and sparkling wines, annually. So how did this one bottle turn out?

2008 Golan Heights Winery Cabernet SauvignonPrice: $14.99*

What They Said:

Per wine.com “The Yarden Cabernet Sauvignon expresses characters of ripe dark red and black fruits, layered with notes of earth, spice, chocolate, pipe tobacco and a hint of fresh herb. This rich, complex wine is full-bodied, with concentrated flavor and a satisfying, long finish.

Yarden Cabernet Sauvignon is enjoyable on the young side, but should really be aged for a few years to get the most out of it. The wine will continue to develop and should remain in good drinking condition for a decade or more. This wine is best paired with very flavorful foods. One good combination would be with lamb short ribs braised in red wine, beef stock and aromatic vegetables.”

What I Think:

(14.5%) This one hails from the Golan Heights in the northern part of Israel which shares a border with Syria and marks one of my first offerings from Israel. Nice ruby in color with fresh fruit on the nose. Juicy, briary raspberry and blackberry flavors on a warm, creamy, comforting palate. This one is medium bodied and very well balanced. The structure really takes shape on the mid-palate where mineral notes and soft tannins emerge and lead to barrel notes and black pepper spice that lasts through a shortish finish. The notes above reflect my thoughts on day 3. This one started off bigger in profile and grew on me as it mellowed and hit its stride. Given that you may want to decant and or hold off opening for a year or two. If looking to try a wine from Israel (or need a Kosher offering) this is a fine place to start.

Rating: Buy It (It’s good and I’m guessing you haven’t had Israeli wine before…)

*This wine was received as a press sample

2008 Broadside Cabernet Sauvignon Margarita Vineyard

In honor of today being #CabernetDay (if you are interested in participating you can find details here) I thought I might share a few of my favorites starting with this stunner that “Jon Bonne turned me onto late last year. Broadside is a partnership of Chris Brockway of Broc Cellars and Brian Terrizzi of Giornata that focuses on making artisanal wines with a natural approach that are priced for people to drink, not collect. And based on my experience I must say they are doing a fine job of it (perhaps except that I want to drink and collect this one…)

Price: $18.99 @ Cheese Plus

What They Said:

2008 Broadside Cabernet Sauvignon Margarita VineyardPer Jon Bonne “The new release of Chris Brockway’s naturally fermented Cabernet from this high-elevation Paso site continues a stellar run. Pretty cassis and cured tobacco, with juicy bramble fruit. Try finding similar quality California Cab for the price.”

What I Think:

(14.1%) 97% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Petite Verdot – Made with a super non-intervention philosophy you know you are on to something different as soon as this hits your tongue. Lively and pure this one starts with an aggressive flavor profile from the get go showing bright cherries and juicy brambly berries on a firm mineral backbone. These dry out to show tea leave flavors on a mid-palate that features a cola (along with a bit of caramel) tinged acidity leading to grippy, chewy tannins on a smooth, lingering finish. What can I say? I’m smitten. I will certainly be buying again.

Rating: Wow! (that said not your typical California Cabernet, though I wish it were, with only 2% new oak so approach with an open mind)

How about you? What are you drinking for #CabernetDay?

2007 Mezzacorona Cabernet Sauvignon

Italian Wine Map: Trentino - Alto Adige

This wine sent me down a bit of a rat hole as they say in my business. You see the label states this wine is from “Vigneti delle Dolomiti IGT”. As I am headed to (very) southern Switzerland later this summer of course my curiosity was piqued. So where to start? How about from the top… This IGT is part of Trentino – Alto Adige which is one of the twenty wine regions of Italy. Trentino – Alto Adige, which covers a large part of the Dolomites, is on the alpine border with Austria directly to the north and Switzerland to the west. As you might guess by the name it is actually comprised of two areas. Trentino to the south and Alto Adige to the north.

To understand this further we have to go back to the middle ages and Charlemagne who planted the seeds that resulted in these two distinct areas that still exist today. Trentino, thrives on polenta, and is steeped in the Italo-Venetian traditions well known for an alpine takes of pasta including game, mushrooms and cheeses distinctive to the area. On the other side Alto Adige has more ties to German and Austrian culture and its gastronomic pride is Speck. German and Italian were both made official languages of the region shortly after WWII in 1946 and most residents of the region are still bi-lingual today.

Regional Map of Trentino - Alto Adige

Okay, back to the vino. Trentino-Alto Adige produces less than 1% of the Italy’s wine (but about 10% of its grappa). There are three grapes native to the region; Nosiola, Teroldego Rotoliano and the Marzemino, and loads of international varietals (here’s a full list) like this Cabernet Sauvignon. Of interest most of the wines made in the South are made by larger wineries for international export. In the north most wines are still made by small family wineries where the product is mostly consumed locally with limited exports to Germany and Austria. That said as of late many of these have been developing a niche following here in the United States. This is the area I am most keen to visit should I find the time later this summer…

As for this wine specifically I never did find anything definitive on Vignetti delle Dolomiti IGT. How’d it end up in my house? Good question. I know something inspired me to buy this and figured it was one of those rascally K&L wines emails that regularly drain my wallet. If it was I can’t seem to find; guess that is why I should record these things when I purchase the wines ;-) How’d it go?

2007 Mezzacorona Cabernet SauvignonPrice: $6.99 @ K&L Wines imported by Prestige Wine Imports

What They Said:

Per K&L Wines “Leave it to the Italians to make a dirt cheap and super tasty Cabernet that is meant for food. This one offers an intense bouquet, complex with vanilla notes characteristics from oak aging, a dry flavor, lightly tannic, full-body. Pretty much everything you want from a ‘house red’ and all for $7! This is definitely the best cabernet deal in the store- the perfect every-day cab with rich fruit and cedar edges!”

What I Think:

(13%) dark purple, ruby at the edges this one starts juicy (and medium bodied) with tart cherry and spiced currant notes. It is balanced by a pleasant acidity before giving way to toasty, vanilla (all barrel) flavors that show light tannins on a warm, short finish. This wine fades quickly so I would certainly recommend drinking it within the first day if not two. Luckily this one makes that easy. Soft and food friendly with a low abv (13%) this is all you can expect for $7. That said while good it isn’t great. I won’t be buying again but feel free to give it a try if you can find it for $8 or so. For more information on this one or the winery in general head on over to the Mezzacorona website.

Further reading and articles referenced while writing this article:

2007 Rio Vaca Cabernet Sauvignon

2007 Rio Vaca Cabernet SauvignonPrice: $5.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per the bottle “Our Rio Vaca estate vineyard is planted alongside the Vaca Mountains just twenty miles east of California’s most renowned wine growing region. Vaca Small Lot Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is classically structured, full bodied and exudes dark currant and ripe blackberry flavors. 14-months aging in small French and American oak barrels adds layers of spice and imparts a long, supple finish.”

What I Think:

Yesterday I covered the Chardonnay from this winery which I was surprisingly a fan of. I also covered off on the back story of Rio Vaca Vineyards or what I could find of it there. So with those bases covered what do you say we just jump right into their Cabernet offering. Well alrighty then…

Dark, dense in color this shows leafy currants on a dry tannic nose. The palate starts juicy loaded with blueberries (with a slight mineral tinge) before a nice acidity emerges on the mid-palate. From there creamy, vanilla flavors come to the fore before drying out to cheek grabbing tannins which linger on a short finish. Definitely a whole lot of barrel going on here but its well done. Comforting and familiar like a warm blanket. Now I could certainly pick this apart (perhaps thin and a bit hot) but my opinion is that at $6 few will be disappointed by this wine. Furthermore I think it has a chance to pleasantly surprise even more!

Rating: Buy It

2008 Liberte Cabernet Sauvignon

This is a guest post from Bob Dwyer of the The Wellesley Wine Press which, for those not familiar, covers “a consumer’s view on finding, enjoying, and sharing great wines at great prices” so as you can imagine we are often sharing tips! If you are interested in taking a look for yourself check out his value alerts or his latest hyper value finds.
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2008 Liberte Cabernet SauvignonPrice: $9.99 @ Trader Joe’s in Framingham, MA

What They Said:

Per the bottle “With its elegant red huge and powerful palate this 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon delivers an exceptional bouquet of blackberries, autumnal leaves and baking spices followed by opulent flavors of clove and marzipan. Serve with stuffed poblano peppers, roasted beet salad or tortilla soup with pressed Cuban sandwiches. Decant 15 to 30 minutes.”

What Bob Thinks:

A surprisingly hefty bottle with a raised label for a $9.99 California Cab. When I mentioned to the wine helmsman at Trader Joe’s that the label reminded me of the Chariot Gypsy he pointed out 3 or 4 other wines that have a similar looking woman on the label (Novella Synergy for example).

Deep dark red/burgundy in color. Not quite opaque but nearly. On the nose I get black pepper, deep black fruit and a little vegetal component I’d associate with Chilean reds blind. The mouthfeel is quite smooth initially, but on the backend I catch a little heat from alcohol with nice savory aromas lingering on in the glass. All in all a flavorful Paso Robles red priced on par with the amount of enjoyment it delivered.

Bob’s Rating: 12th Bottle
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Thanks again to Bob for sharing this post. Have any of you had this wine? If so we would love to hear what you think in the comments below…

2009 Tilia Cabernet Sauvignon

Price: $7.99 @ K&L Wines imported by Winebow Brands International

What They Said:

2009 Tilia Cabernet Sauvignon91 points Wines & Spirits: “Lightly floral and decidedly fruity, this is rich in cherry flavors that give it a fresh, clean air. A selection from organically farmed vineyards in Mendoza, the fruit is pure and direct, with enough tannin for an Argentine asado.” (06/10)

What I Think:

(13.9%) 100% Cabernet Sauvignon – Another offering from the Catena family wine stable this one is dark purple in color turning ruby on the edges. You get sweet red currant on the nose. Full bodied and juicy on the palate with oak emerging on the mid-palate which adds loads of vanilla and layers of soft tannins to the finish. I’m not sure how Wine & Spirits got to 91 points on this one. Perhaps they were having a rough day in the tasting room. That said this is a perfectly drinkable everyday wine at a nice price point. Don’t buy it for the 91 points. In fact forget about them. I bet you’ll enjoy it even more without the lofty expectations to live up to. I know I am going to try that the 2nd time around…

Rating: 12th Bottle

2004 Twenty Bench Cabernet Sauvignon

2004 Twenty Bench Cabernet SauvignonPrice: $14.99 @ Friend/Gift

What They Said:

Per Nine North Wines “The 2004 Twenty Bench is one of our more pronounced vintages to date. Aromas of black currants, plums and chocolate accompany the wines dense, inky color, while the palate shows great structure, richness and depth that comes with the first ever addition of Cabernet Franc to the blend. This wine drinks well now and will age gracefully over the next 7 -8 years.”

What I Think:

I’ve heard a lot about this label and no wonder why. This is a very nice Napa Valley Cab for less than $20 and certainly one I will be revisiting soon. If I like the current release as much this may end up on my Christmas giving list. Stay tuned for my thoughts on the 2007 which is available at K&L Wines for $16. In the meantime here are my notes on the 2004…

(14.1%) – 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc – Great, aromatic nose that shows loads of black pepper and dark fruits on top of herbal notes. The palate is still very lively with slightly sweet plum flavors and nice acidity. The finish is dry and leathery showing spice, barrel notes and lingering dusty, chocolate tannins. Good structure throughout but it seems the fruit is thins toward the end of the palate which to me means you should be drinking this one if you have it…

Rating: Wow!

2007 Sterling Vineyards Organic Cabernet Sauvignon

Price: $4.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

2007 Sterling Vineyards Organic Cabernet SauvignonPer the bottle “The organically grown grapes selected for this wine are farmed using natural techniques free from artificial chemicals or pesticides. Set against the dramatic and beautiful backdrop of Mendocino County on California’s North Coast, these organic vineyards produce fresh fruit with pure, exceptional flavors. This Cabernet Sauvignon shows flavors of juicy blackberry, currant and plum, with hints of espresso and toffee.”

What I Think:

This one came double recommended by Jerry and Angela so you know I had to give it a try. While Sterling Vineyards doesn’t recognize this (on their site) they do have the Chardonnay (89 Points Wine Enthusiast) under the same label available for $13 bones. The Cab seems to be available on the broader market for $14-18. So is it worth $5?

Yes it is! Nice minty nose laden with fruit and barrel notes followed by juicy fruit on the palate. Blackberries lead the way while being held in balance by a firm, acidic backbone. Surprisingly full bodied given its 13% ABV (light by Cab standards). The finish shows more of the same juiciness with some dry tannins and dusty chocolate notes. An easy sipper for sure. Need more proof? I’ve finished three bottles in a little more than a week. While I’m a big fan of this wine I am guessing it is may show too much acidity for many of you out there. That said for $5 I would encourage you to try this it and let me know. As for myself I’m going to try and grab a bunch more soon. Get it while you can! All that and I have still yet to mention that this one deserves extra credit for having a screw top… Thanks again to Angela and Jerry for the tip on this one!

Rating: Buy It

2008 Spiral Wines Cabernet Sauvignon

2008 Spiral Wines Cabernet SauvignonPrice: $4.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Not a word, some mumbo jumbo that had nothing to do with the wine on the bottle. A google search turned up a phone number, a call to the number led to Fior di Sole which is a premium bulk wine supplier in Napa Valley who “separates itself from the competition by creating quality, not just quantity-based lots purposed for the bulk wine market.” To wrap up the story the custom/private label winemaking unit goes by the moniker Spiral Wines. Anyhow I sent them a message, I’ll let you know should I hear anything back on the wine itself…

What I Think:

A Napa Cab for five bones? First thought, must be a Bronco Wine Co. offering in the same vain as Napa Creek or Napa Landing. If DP hadn’t tipped me off to this one in his comment I might have glossed right past it. As you can tell from the research above my initial perception was not correct. Which leads me to my next thought…is the economy really at the point where we can get a bottle of Napa Valley Cab for $4.99? It seems so, next thought. Who sold this wine off in bulk? We will likely never know. But there is one questions we can answer: Is it any good?

The nose is muted but displays some faint cherry and oak aromas. In the mouth this medium bodied efforts starts juicy before a firm acidity quickly shows itself. Towards the mid-palate cherry and plum notes emerge. These give way to a dry, herbal finish that shows a hint of creaminess on a finish that lingers nicely. As I mentioned on twitter this one grew on me with each sip. Though it shows some good pieces; fruit, creaminess, herbs and acidity, they don’t quite all come together here. That said, I see a glimpse of potential here. It is worth another bottle to see if perhaps some more time to integrate these components will treat this bottle kindly. Stay tuned…

Rating: 12th Bottle (for now…)

Anyone else out there had this one? Love to hear your thoughts.