2003 Rocking Horse Garvey Family Vineyard Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon

Price: $9.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per the winery “Great structure and layers of complexity are the hallmarks of this full bodied Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Sumptuous upon entry and showing a dark crimson hue, this delectable wine hints of classic bell pepper, violets and a lingering suggestion of chocolate before bursting into a full bodied black cherry finish. This hand crafted wine was aged in hand selected oak barrels and will be rewarded by proper cellaring.”

What I Think:

After my brother-in-law sampled the Rosenblum we moved on to this Rocking Horse Cab which had enthralled me on first encounter. Shortly after I opened it, given the lack of a meal to accompany it, I was a bit concerned that the dry, dustiness may not have been as appealing as I had found it last.

On the nose this seems like a complex cabernet. The dryness starts at the front of the palate with some fat, rich fruit flavors on top that move towards briar and spice in the mid-palate until the floor drops out and it gets chalky, dry and dusty. Still wondering how this one will age. I think I have another 2 bottles so I’ll have another one over the next few weeks and if I am still enjoying it I’ll be back at TJ’s (it was readily available on last visit) to load up again.

Rating: Buy It

2003 Rocking Horse Garvey Family Vineyard Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon

Price: $9.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per the winery “Great structure and layers of complexity are the hallmarks of this full bodied Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Sumptuous upon entry and showing a dark crimson hue, this delectable wine hints of classic bell pepper, violets and a lingering suggestion of chocolate before bursting into a full bodied black cherry finish. This hand crafted wine was aged in hand selected oak barrels and will be rewarded by proper cellaring.”

What I Think:

Trying to have some patience as I type, yet again what a ridculous value! $24 for the same bottle on the winery site! You have to love TJ’s! That said I can’t help but cut to the chase, get this wine now! Read this when you come back….

Okay good, I opened this after the Marietta as I knew we were having steak and this would be an appropriate pairing. Before I opened it I read the above and thought to myself; Bell Peppers are classic? Who would have ever known? Back to the wine, how high can I sing the praises? On opening this it had a true cabernet noise, what is that? I think I now, so I’ll say this was it. The complexity was apparent at that point. The aromas were briary fruit with oak and a bit of spice lingering behind. On the palate you are struck immediately by dryness. I mean almost puckering dryness that ends up opening to some fruit and then fades back to this (with some time I determine the dryness equals this) earthy and dusty finish. Somewhere you can catch floral notes, I think violets, intermixed with those earthy tones. The texture seemed almost velvety, there is so much to describe here that I feel like I have ADD. The look is deep purple, almost silky. I wonder what the vintage rating was this year, let me add that to my list of things to do… Does this taste older than it is? I want someone that really knows wine to tackle this one and tell me why it seems so unique to me. Either way I want to watch this one age so I’m going to get more now.

Rating: Bulk Buy (for me, you should just grab a bottle until you are sure this style agrees with you)

2003 Red Diamond Cabernet Sauvignon

Price: $6.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per the winery “Aromas of black cherry, blackberries, liqueur and hints of tobacco and smoke precede a rich, silky palate of cherry, chocolate and black fruits with a touch of toasty oak on the finish.”

What I Think:

This wine is made by one of the Washington behemoths; Chateau Ste. Michelle. It consists of 93% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot and 1% Cabernet Franc. This bottling use to be one I liked quite a bit when it was on the shelves say six months ago so I had been looking at the remaining bottle for some time. I figured I would save it for an evening when I needed to have a nice wine, a known commodity and last night turned out to be that night. Boy was I disappointed. Coming off a series of good wines over the last ten days this one tasted almost like, dare I say it, manufactured plonk! There was not one unique varietal character about this wine. You could drink the bottle with 4 people and at least two wouldn’t know it was Cab, I may be one of them. Don’t get me wrong this was still nice to drink and maybe worth buying again but it certainly didn’t meet the nostalgia I had been feeling after looking at this bottle for weeks. If it were still in the stores I may give it another shot as I don’t want the memories to end like this. Six months ago I was buying this wine regularly. Have my taste changed that much over that timeframe? Was this bottle slightly off? Unfortunately we will never know as it is long gone from TJ’s.

Rating: 12th Bottle

2000 Navarro Mendocino Cabernet Sauvignon

Price: $22.80 direct from the winery

What They Said:

Per the winery “It’s rich and chewy with whiffs of cedar, mint and tobacco; a great match for slowly simmered Sauerbraten. Gold Medal winner. Best of Class.”

What I Think:

This was the second bottle from that aforementioned dinner party, so while I am operating mainly from my general perceptions of what this wine was like rather than the detailed insight I usually hope (hope being the key word) to provide. My general impression on this wine is that I blew it! I should have emailed Ed over at Navarro to see if this one was ready for drinking like he recently told me to do with my ’97 Pinots. This one was certainly not quite as hoped, it had yet to round out and most of the fruit seem closed. I thought with some time maybe it would open up but it didn’t occur. Perhaps I caught it at a bad time; it seems likely that I should have let it lie longer. What I do remember is waiting for the fruit; the winery wrote that they declassified the majority of this vintage so perhaps that does some of the explaining for me. They gave this wine a slogan of “Slow Motion”; I should have kept that in mind when I want to grab it!

Rating: Not for Me

2003 Franciscan Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon

Price: $19.99 @ Friend/Gift

What They Said:

Per the winery “Aromas of rich chocolate, coffee, and cassis with notes of mixed dark fruit and raspberry. Extraordinarily rich and mouth-filling, with flavors of cassis, coffee and toasted oak that grace a well-structured body, full of texture with ripe, supple tannins on the lingering finish. 89% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 1% Petit Verdot.”

What I Think:

So last Friday I had some friends over for dinner and we had a few bottles of wine which has led me to some consternation as to whether or not I should attempt to chronicle those wines here. I have already decided that those consumed at a restaurant are out, those at friend’s houses are in most cases to be out, but what about these.

There is one major issue in that I’m not going to be sitting there with a pen and paper with guests present. Meaning at the end of the night, if the bottle is gone which is all but a certainty, I am left with an impression of the wine but find it hard to reconstruct the details, especially after the second or third bottle has been opened. Perhaps in the future I will try to siphon off a taste to jog my memory. Or I could just not post them and mitigate the risk of friends getting mad at me for giving their wines bad ratings…

So now on to this one, I remember a wine that was very well structured, a pleasant texture in the mouth with nice rounded fruit flavors that lasted throughout, The finish was smooth as the fruit gradually gave way to the oak and tannins that lingered on to the end. I don’t remember it being overly complex as the flavor profile stayed largely the same, on the up side it the taste lingered in your mouth long after the wine was down your throat. Would I buy this bottle myself, in a restaurant? Yes, if I didn’t see something else I knew that appealed to me. Going to the store to get a bottle? Likely not as I would prefer to get two $10 bottles. This is certainly a good bottle of wine well worth consuming if you are comfortable dropping that kind of money on a bottle. I’m not so at this price point my expectations have extended to having a memorable wine tasting experience. While there is nothing bad to be said this one simply didn’t have that “Wow” factor.

Rating: Pricey

2005 Solaris Cabernet Sauvignon

Price: $7.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per quaffability “Simple, pleasant aromas of cherries and oak show on the nose, but also some less-than-pleasant green vegetable aromas. It’s green in the mouth too, without much in the way of flavor or texture. Short hard finish. Even with my expectations low, this is disappointing juice at this price. How odd that this same winery is responsible for two terrific values and one horrible value within a few months. Avoid this and see if you can find some of the 2002 Cab or Merlot hiding on the bottom shelf.”

What I Think:

Even before I popped this one I think I got duped as mentioned above. This wine isn’t even on their own website so they clearly must be embarassed by their effort. Okay my expectations are set low let’s see what happens when we pull the cork…

And the verdict is in…the aftertaste is almost cough syrup-ish, very light fruit on the nose makes me think it is not very cab like and the green peppers on the palate are less than encouraging. This doesn’t fit my definition of plonk as the flavors don’t seem manufactured. Then again it has no varieteal distinction of being Cabernet just grape juice colored red in a bottle. At $8 you can certainly do better.

Rating: Skip It

2003 St. Clement Cabernet Sauvignon

Price: $18.00 @ Safeway (regular price is $36.00 a bottle)

What They Said:

Per wine.com “This elegant Cabernet Sauvignon is made from fruit grown on the valley floor throughout Napa Valley and represents distinct growing regions from southern Napa to St. Helena. The addition of Cabernet Franc creates structure in the wine while a touch of Merlot adds length to the mid-palate and a layer of fruit aromatics on the nose. Aged 18 months in 66 percent new French oak, the lots were aged separately until blended before bottling.

Red cherry, rhubarb and spice aromas are the introduction to this elegant wine as flavors of raspberry, cherry and rhubarb pie co-mingle with anise, clove and hints of cocoa powder on the palate. Soft tannins carry this well-balanced Cabernet to a lengthy and flavorful finish.”

What I Think:

First off the list price for this wine is $36.00. At $18.00 it was certainly close to delivering that wow factor. I liked that there was some Cab Franc and Merlot included, it gave it a nice level of balance. On the tongue it seemed to start with lighter fruit and move darker before finishing with cloves on a longer finish. Saw in the write above multiple mentions of rhubarb, didn’t get that. This was a nice wine. The question that I ask myself when ranking it was if I was in the store and was going to spring $20.00 for a Cab would I grab this one that I know or try something else. I can’t quite decided which makes me think that I must be leaning towards the later.

Rating: Pricey

2003 Lindemans Reserve South Australia Cabernet Sauvignon

Price:$7.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by PWG Vinters USA

What They Said:

Per Wine Spectator ”Supple and inviting for its pleasant core of currant and spice flavors, with a wee touch of earth and cedar on the finish. Drink now through 2010. 25,000 cases made.” – Harvey Steiman, October 02, 2006 (85 points, $10)

What I Think:

Continuing my efforts to get through all of the Australian wines I found this Lindeman’s in my cart. Not sure what my expectations were. I though I saw Padthaway on this bottle, but alas when I got it home it was just labelled South Australian.As the Penfolds and Rosemount had found their way to the house it seemed it was only fair to complete the trifecta. We drank this wine over three nights. Initially I noticed some blackberry with mint lingering in the background. I could also tell they went a bit heavy on the oak. There wasn’t much depth, balance or roundness on day 1 but it did start to show some characteristics on day 3. Still not a stellar effort and there are some other Cabs at TJ’s that I would rather bring home but if you enjoy Aussie cabs give it a go.

Rating: Skip It