Cabernet Sauvignon and Blends

cellar specials 234 x 60

2003 Vina Santa Rita 120 Cabernet Sauvignon $ (7.99)    OK for an inexpensive cabernet, this Chilean wine shows promise but it is not yet where it needs to be.  Dark fruit, herb and a touch of vanilla on the nose.  Open it on a Tuesday night, this way you wonít serve it by mistake on Friday night for dinner.  

2000 Cain Concept $$ (39.00)    Meritage Christmas to one and all, this blend is heavy on Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc and offers a depth of dark fruit flavors with a spice and mint finish that will stay with you beyond the bowl of the glass.  A solid creation for complex wine lovers.  

2003 Long Neck Cabernet Sauvignon West Cape $ (7.99)     This South African offering needs to calm in the glass before any positive impression is obtainable.  It starts as a jigsaw puzzle with pieces scattered about, but does come together well enough to show a drinkable cabernet sauvignon.  

1995 BV Cabernet Sauvignon Georges de Latour Private Reserve Rutherford $$$ (65.00) Crafted like the cream of Aphrodite herself, this big cab brings delight with rambling black fruit, cassis and the gentle hands of mild tannins on the lengthy finish.  A treat.

2002 Los Vasco Cabernet Sauvignon Colchagua $ (8.99)   This Chilean property of Domaines Baron De Rothschild (Lafite) is a solid example of wine offerings from South America.  Good dark fruit and bell pepper flavors present well for fewer than ten dollars.  

2002 Ring Bolt Cabernet Sauvignon $ (13.99)   This cab from down under is OK, but lacks the character and packed fruit I enjoy.  An easy drinking cab appeals to a wide variety of drunken patrons.   

2002 Mount Gras Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva $ (9.99)    A nice cab that pours out a rich deep purple and drinks full.  There is plenty of black cherry and plum to last through the glass and the finish is a short but silky one.

2001 Alterra Cabernet Sauvignon $ (14.99)     Be careful and let this one have some time in your glass, it starts out hot and totally hides the fruit in this alcohol heavy first sip.  It settles down nicely and drinks smooth and fruity for a nice casual compliment to a meal.  Bring a bottle to a friendís house to enjoy with cheese.

2002 Robertson Winery Prospect Hill Cabernet Sauvignon $ (14.99)   This is a nice value cab from South Africa that shows plenty of fruit of cherry, raspberry and black fruit with a touch of cassis and enough tannins on the finish to give this one some legs.  A nice solid wine at a good price

2002 Ferrari-Carano Siena $$ (38.00 rest)    This one stands well against the pasta sauces served up on many of the dishes.  A blend of sangiovese and cabernet sauvignon with nice dark cherry and a mouthful of tannins, fresh and vibrant.

1994 Cain Five $$$ (55.00)   An interesting blend but this wine, though fruit filled, lacked the finish and length for a big, bold California Meritage.  Good, but not what I would have expected from the year and winery.

1995 Joseph Phelps Insignia $$$ (75.00)   Lush dark fruit, polished tannins and a velvet finish is the best description for this wine.  When it comes to power and grace in a glass vessel, here is one for the books.

1995 BV Tapestry $$ (45.00)   Throw out the high and low and the judges give this a solid three.  The bottle time on this one has been kind and has allowed the complexities of the fruit to present themselves while mellowing the tannins and softening the finish.  A treat for those lovers of big reds.  

2000 Robert Pecota Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Kara's Vineyard  $$ (28.00)     A pleasant blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc that delivers a smooth, subtle silky wine.  The black cherry and currant flavors delight from the first sip, with a velvety finish.  

2001 Peter Lehman Cabernet Sauvignon $ (36.00 rest.)     Hang with this one, folks, because it comes out of the bottle as a stave.  It seems there is more tannin here than a leather shop, until the air bores holes through it.  Then you can enjoy the black fruits of this Aussie cab.  

2001 Concannon Cabernet Sauvignon $ (9.99)    This is ripe with black berry and dark cherry flavors that greet you from the first whiff.  The fruit is ready to treat you to an enjoyable evening.  A solid wine for under ten dollars.

2002 Rojo Cabernet Sauvignon Maipo Valley $ (8.99)    This one starts out hot and takes half a bottle to settle in.  The fruit is limited but a hope for things to come from this region.

1999 Ironstone Vineyards Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon $ (20.00)    The small additions of blending grapes to the Cab help define the blackberry and licorice flavors and the oak aging brings out vanilla and tannins to structure this wine.  A good once a week drinker for the books.  

2001 Errazuriz Estate Cabernet Sauvignon $ (10.99) Undrinkable, torturously unpleasant.  

2000 Beringer Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon  $$$ (61.00 rest.)     A nice mix of dark cherry, black fruits and a touch of cassis made this a fine companion to the steak I enjoyed.  This one shows good structure and balance with a pleasant finish.

2001 BV Century Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon $ (8.99)     BV offers this as acknowledgement of their 100 years in winemaking.  For a retail list of 8.99 and a discount if itís in a mixed half-case or case, then may I present to you a diamond in the rough.  This is fruity and flavorful with a nice finish.  A keeper in my racking for times when friends drop in and hang out.

2000 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon $$ (40.00)      I must admit I know this is a quality wine but my palate has been dulled by current mental state.  Donít let that stop you from drinking this one, itís just me.  

1999 Santa Laura SA Laura Hartwig Colchagua Valley Cabernet Sauvignon $ (9.99)    This is my find of the month, a quality cab with generous amounts of blackberry, cassis and a hint of chocolate on the finish.  When you want a cab under ten to enjoy with friends, I recommend you try this one from Chile.

1998 Chimney Rock Cabernet Sauvignon $$ (34.00)   A very approachable, drinkable cab with dark fruits and a touch of tannins, though this one comes up light on the finish  

2000 Norman Meritage $ (15.00)     This bottle boasts that this is a no nonsense wine from an up and coming region of California; I found it unimpressive and none stimulating to my senses.

2000 Plaisir de Merle Cabernet Sauvignon $$ (27.00)  This South African Cab is a pearl  (Paarl) of a wine, rich full bodied and plenty of black cherry and plum fruit with nuances of toast and chocolate.  The tannins will keep you awake and allow this one to drink well for the next few years.  

2001 Grand Archer Cabernet Sauvignon    Too much wood and not enough fruit on this one.  The oak started and ended, leaving only small amounts of dark cherry and cassis.  OK, but not great.  (Editor's note:  An old girlfriend once told me, "You can never have too much wood...")

 2001 Stone Haven Cabernet Sauvignon $    Deep ruby color leads you to a nose full of dark cherry and anise with a great finish for an inexpensive wine.  This is a fun wine to enjoy with singing off key.

2002 Santa Isabel Estate $ (8.00)    This pleasant example of Chileís growing acceptance into the wine world offers great values of classic grapes.

2001 Estancia Cabernet Sauvignon $ (10.99)    A real bargain with the coat and hat of a higher priced wine.  Fruit?  We got your fruit right here, dark cherry, and blackberry with the nose of an old familiar boyhood hangout.  Buy this one while it's still on the shelves.  You will enjoy it for times to come.  

1988 Burgess Vintners Selection Cabernet Sauvignon $$   Once the dust and funk blew off this wine, it was a great example of time in a bottle and the pleasures brought out by letting the wine mellow.  

1995 Beringer Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon $ (22.00)    This one hit me with a sweet caramel nose right off the bat and then heaps of dark cherries and cassis in your face.  Big, bold and red, like like my women.  

2000 Veramonte Cabernet Sauvignon $ (9.99)   Approach this now and drink it once a day.  I love the aromas coming off this wine. A dark rich red/purple color with flavors of blueberry and blackberry run post patterns in your glass.  This is not a long finishing sexy wine, just a well priced, good quality wine that you can afford to drink with friends.  

2002 Excelsior Cabernet Sauvignon $ (14.99) This wine greets you with a rich blackish plum color and a nose redolent of ripe blackcurrant and plummy fruit. Toasty oak aromas and sweet fruit flavors are balanced by soft, ripe tannins. Good structure with a soft, clean finish.

1996 Dominus Estate Meritage $$$ (89.00)   Like a greyhound chasing a rabbit, this one shows its power and elegance around the three quarter pole, with plenty of length for the home stretch.  Hold this for the winos in your life that would appreciate it.

1994 Diamond Creek Vineyards Volcanic Hill $$$ (65.00)   One can sit on this wine for several years to come as its tannins stand up and shadow box three rounds before the berry, cassis and smoky flavors from this one can step into the ring.  Once they do, itís a heavyweight match up worth watching.  

2000 Chateau St Jean Cabernet Sauvignon $$ (25.00)    This wine has great black cherry, and cassis with a finish of toasted oak, but comes up a bit short on the body and feel for a Cab.  Good, but not one to rave about.

1994 Clos du Val Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve (my first good wine to cellar from WJ)   1994 was a year to appreciate and this crafted wine offers a treat as it unveils plenty of mouthwatering black cheery and hints of green olives.  A finish that offers one the hint that this is just starting to disclose its grace and elegance.  

1996 White Hall Lane Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon $$ (36.00)    This one is only driving at 45 in a 55 mph zone, so if you are patient, it will only get better.  Crafted with love, this wine drinks big and has a great black cherry and currant flavor with spice and a long sexy finish.  I am thankful.  

1999 Freemark Abby Cabernet Sauvignon $$ (30.00)    This Meritage brings a well-structured mildly tannic firm beverage to your glass.  Flavors of blackberry, currant and black cherry delight before you brace for the tannins and acid which poke a sharp stick into the roof of your mouth.  

1990 Grgich Hills Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley ? (this came out of WJís stash)   Big and bold, this is why WJ loves Cali cabs. Deep reddish-purple, with generous portions of black cherry, currant, mild oak and a robust finish.  Donít waste this one on a stick figure, save it for the real guests.

1995 Floral Springs Trilogy $$ (40.00)   A harmonious Meritage that offers depth and structure with a good fill of red fruits, dark berries, a hint of mint and a vanilla finish.

1996 Whitehall Lane Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley $ (22.00)   A dark red to purple hue and the flavors of coffee, currant and dark cherry play on your palate.  A mild amount of acidity and tannins show up at the end.


1994 Ferrari-Carano Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma County $$   This is why I like blends.  The cabernet, Malbec, merlot, petit verdot, and cabernet franc play well together and offer up mouth-watering dark cherry, cassis, and mint flavors with a seductive finish.  A treat, though too good to be a 'drowning your sorrows' wine.  Save this one for a special occasion.  

1993 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon Napa $$$ (74.00)   I understand the fanatics for this dark ruby nectar.  There is a regal dress to this wine as it lays out a headiness of cassis, blackberries, chocolate, sandalwood and herbs. Luscious and full bodied, with a long slightly tannic hem.

1995 Whitehall Lane Cabernet Sauvignon Napa $$ (40.00)   A fav of Wino John due to the big bold fruit and weightiness of this wine.  There are blackberry, blueberry, coco and plum that hit you with this wine.  An impressive liquid. 

2000 Chateau St. Jean Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma $ (24.00)    This wine boasts currant, cedar hints, plum and tobacco in a well-crafted wine, but lacks a powerful finish.  It is a great wine for the casual crowd.

2001 2 Brothers Big Tattoo Red $ (9.99)    This Chilean blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Syrah and 10% Merlot delivers a nice amount of dark fruits and tannin.  The wine does fall off quickly and seems light on the palate but I commend Erik and Alex for their intentions.

1995 Silver Oak Alexander Valley $$$ (67.00)    I openly admit I have fallen for the lusty stares of this wine, though true tasters would rate this a bit thin and short on the finish.  Sorry, on this one I lean towards the blind love of the girl I could not date in high school.  The sexy fruit and firm tannin figure leaves me with a boyhood grin.  (Editor's note: Lusty stares???)

1997 BV Coastal Cabernet Sauvignon Centennial Release $ (16.99)    A pleasant black cherry, currant, and a kiss on the cheek of oak with a silky finish that lingers longer then expected.  For cost and quality, my motion lotion is the only other bottle that gives me this much pleasure.

2000 Chateau Los Boldos Cabernet Sauvignon Requinoa $ (11.00)   Here is a wine you can afford to drink any time and place with friends or by yourself and you can feel like youíre giving yourself a treat.  This Chilean Cab has dark cherry, currant, a bit of spice and a smooth finish.  Well crafted for an everyday drinking wine.

2001 Matilda Plains Bremerton Winery $ (11.99)   A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Merlot brings a great fruit and a depth of flavor to this inexpensive wine.  A winner to serve for a causal gathering of friends who enjoy red, since the 14% Merlot softens the racy Shiraz enough to appeal to a large audience.

1999 Nederberg Cabernet Sauvignon $ (11.99)   This wine shows hopes of dark fruits and a woody finish but falls short on the finish and the structure to make this a big leaguer.  I much enjoyed their Pinotage over the Cabernet.  

2001 Penfolds Koonunga Hills Shiraz/Cabernet $ (8.99)    This Aussie wine boasts flavors of cinnamon and clovers with helpings of dark cherry and plumb and a smooth velvety finish.  A deep flavor-filled delight for those seeking inexpensive chewy reds.  

1999 Mount Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon $$$ (70.00 rest.)    Generous amounts of red fruits and dark spices with currant and cedar undertones.  Mildly balanced tannins and acid components make this wine a pleasurable experience  

1995 Beringer Alluvium Red $$ (32.00)    This Meritage shows style and elegance with plum and dark fruit right out of the gate.  Soft tannins and a silky finish make the bottom of this bottle seem too close to the cork.  A nice wine for a special occasion, like when you are about to depart to beer country.

1998 Blackjack Harmonie $ (23.00)    Comprised of 57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23 % Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petite Verdot.

2000 Amberhill Cabernet Sauvignon $ (11.00)    This wine is on their list for $28.00 and is poured at 8.00 per glass as the Cab.  Brought to you by the Raymond Family, this wine brings dark cherry; tobacco, spice and herbs to the large bowled glasses but lacks the length and fullness to make it a big wine.

1995 Far Ninety Estate Bottled Cabernet Sauvignon $$$ (85.00)    Like a classic car, this wine has power, style and elegance to make everyone stop and look, reminiscent of a 1962 Red Corvette with red and white leather interior.  Decanting opened this wine to bring out the earthy tones of Oakville while allowing the full complement of fruit to dance across your palate.  An impressive velvety long finish with a small amount of acid to leave your salivary glands asking for more.  A Cabernet to understand the power and beauty of the sought after wines of California.  

2000 Talomas $ (10.99)   This blend is 67% cabernet sauvignon and 33% syrah which brings plenty of dark fruit, a brown spice undertone from the syrah, and a toasted caramel oak finish.  A nice warm up or a fun wine while hanging out with friends.  

1998 Sebastiani Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma $ (15.00)    An easy drinking wine with a pleasant cherry flavor and hints of raspberry, black licorice and oak.

1999 Lyeth Meritage Red Table Wine $ (13.99)     Keep this in a glass and sniff often, it will be a pleasurable experience.  Just donít drink it expecting the same.  This one falls into my cheap red wine palate experience.

1997 Rustenberg Stellenbosch $$ (27.00)   A delightful blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and cabernet franc that shows dark cherries, earthiness, leather and mild tannins.  This one was a great compliment to NY Strip Gorgonzola.   

2001 Casa Lapostolle Cabernet Sauvignon Rapel Valley $ (9.00)    This wine will do well for a casual evening with a generous portion of ripe berry and fruit flavors and well balanced tannins with a hint of black jelly bean.  

2001 Penfolds Koonunga Hills Shiraz/Cabernet $ (11.00)    A drinkable wine with leather, dark fruits and mild tannins.  Well balanced acidity will have this one around the pre-dinner table. 

1999 Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon $$ (31.00)    This wine has the grace and power of a well crafted cab.  Depth is provided from the small additions of merlot, cabernet franc and petite Verdot bringing black cherry, currant and blackberry flavors and a silky finish.  This will rest well for the next 5-8 years but drinks just fine right now.  


1997 Guenoc Meritage Red $ (16.99)    The middle was enjoyable but this wine starts off with a bit of a harshness and doesnít carry much on the finish.  You will find a pleasant red cherry and brown spice flavor in this wine but you have to look for it.  Hang in there and it becomes enjoyable.  

1996 Mount Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon $$ (35.00)   Big Cab Lovers will enjoy the ride with on this Bronco.  It starts untamed with tannins and oak that slap you in the face, but with some fresh air, you can take control of the reins and trots through the cherry groves of Napa and gives way to a silky smooth, elegant gate that brings a tear to your eye as you pour out the last bit into your guestís glass.  

1995 BV Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon $ (19.99)     Aging was kind to this wine and it allowed the tannins to soften and the fruit to develop.  Look for black cherries, tobacco, and oak that rounds out well and for under twenty dollars, a good solid wine. 

1997 Kendall Jackson Cabernet Sauvignon Grand Reserve $$ (44.00)     This wine is full on the palate and has not yet tamed its tannins giving a crunchy, chewy feel to the wine.  Dark fruit and black berries fill your mouth and oak is all over this one.  Better to rest for several years than deal with the hard finish.

1999 Rodney Strong Alexanderís Crown Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon $$ (24.99)    Thin and unimpressive is what my palate said to me after this wine.  Hints of fruit showed up near the end but this wine lacked legs and arms and torso.  I have enjoyed the RS Sonoma and for a lesser price, it delivered more.

1997 Justin Cabernet Sauvignon $ (15.00)   This is a good solid wine for dinner or sitting with friends, plenty of fruit and a long silky smooth finish  

1997 Floral Springs Cabernet Sauvignon $$$ (58.00 rest.)   A nicely structured wine with dark cherry and earthen tones that show a line of tannins to complement any medium rare steak on the menu. 

1997 Quail Creek Cabernet Sauvignon $ (16.99)   For beef, this is a great partner.  A cab from the Rutherford Benchmark holding which also includes Quail Ridge, Bell and Fox Brook.  An enjoyable mix of tannins, chocolate and dark cherry with a snappy finish.

1999 Rodney Strong Alexanderís Crown Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon $$ (24.99)    Thin and unimpressive is what my palate said to me after this wine.  Hints of fruit showed up near the end but this wine lacked legs and arms and torso.  I have enjoyed the RS Sonoma and for a lesser price, it delivered more.

1997 Justin Cabernet Sauvignon $ (15.00)   This is a good solid wine for dinner or sitting with friends, plenty of fruit and a long silky smooth finish  

1995 BV Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon $ (19.99)     Aging was kind to this wine and it allowed the tannins to soften and the fruit to develop.  Look for black cherries, tobacco, and oak that rounds out well and for under twenty dollars, a good solid wine. 

1997 Kendall Jackson Cabernet Sauvignon Grand Reserve $$ (44.00)     This wine is full on the palate and has not yet tamed its tannins giving a crunchy, chewy feel to the wine.  Dark fruit and black berries fill your mouth and oak is all over this one.  Better to rest for several years than deal with the hard finish.  

2000 Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet-Shiraz $ (22.00)   This wine has a deep ruby hue and generous amounts of black fruit, chocolate and mint.  A bit tannic, which do settle with time to a pleasant but short finish.

1997 Woodward Canyon Cabernet Sauvignon $$$ (32.00)   The cork says it all.  Call it Woody, but the woody here is the intense oak that greets you and then the fruit pours in.  Plenty of dark fruits and tannins to make this one a wine for years to come.  Let it relax in the rack and tone the tannins before you approach this bottle.

2000 Smoking Loom Cabernet Sauvignon $ (8.99)    Though I really enjoyed earlier releases of this label, this release smelled and the taste was boxed in by all the wood.  This wine also had a bit of a tangy aftertaste that made it of little interest for me to try again.

1998 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon $$ (42.00)   This ruby colored lush wine delivered red fruits, soft tannins and brown spice with an attitude that told us it preferred to sleep in the cellar several more years before it would show all it has to offer. Drink now, but buy two to hold and enjoy in five years.

1999 Hedges Columbia Valley $ (14.99)  This Meritage from Washington left me longing for a Pinot Noir.  Unfortunately, there was not a great deal to find in this wine from the first to last sip.  Depth and complexity from the blending of 5 grapes should reveal a bounty of fruits but this wine had neither.  Save this one for the demi glaze reduction but not the dinner accompaniment.  

1998 Punterís Corner Cabernet Sauvignon $ (13.99)   Bummer, when I uncorked this wine, the black/purple contrast on the bottom of the cork to the light tan body had my mouth watering for a big-ass wine.  Hints of eucalyptus and chocolate mint had my mind racing with visions of a rich full-bodied drink.  Then I sampled it and was left with one thought, ďWhereís the Beef?Ē  Never judge a book by its color and nose. Maybe itís the Russian Oak.

1998 Los Vascos Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon $(14.99)   This wine will not remain sub-twenty dollars much longer.  A favorite Chilean of mine, a nicely balanced fruit and tannin combination makes this a crowd pleaser for those not looking for the big bold Cabs.  

1999 Geyser Peaks Cabernet Sauvignon    The scent of wood and vanilla hit me first and a soft wine with good dark cherry and a hint of cinnamon washed through my mouth.  This is a very drinkable wine right now with subtle tannin to keep you interested.  

1999 Vina Tarapaca Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva, Maipo Valley $ (9.99)  Too much wood, there is a great dark cherry and spiciness to this wine if you can hang in there long enough.  Could be a really nice wine if the fruit could come forward.  

2001 Penfold Rawsonís Retreat Shiraz Cabernet $ (12.99)    A shinning example of depth and character from two big red grapes.  Though young, there is plenty of fruit on the nose and in the mouth.  Berries galore and a robust plumb, currant and pepper finish.  This wine is a great one to enjoy anytime with a price thatís worth keeping a case in the cellar.  

1998 Montes Alpha Curico Valley Cabernet Sauvignon $ (14.99)   This is a prime example of why I think Chile has so much to offer the wine world.  Value, best buy, stock up and watch your investment grow.  Full-bodied, flavorful and fruit packed with enough tannins to spice it up.  This will cellar for several years, but why wait?  Drink it now and buy more for later.  

1998 Punters Corner Cabernet Sauvignon $ (20.00)   Too early to drink this wine, unless you want a mouth full of oak.  This wine stays tight a great way through the bottle.  American, Russian, and French oak flavor this fruit-filled Cabernet, boasting hints of mint, chocolate, smoke and leather.  Though I do think the smoke was from Tony and the leather from the racehorse.  

1994 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon $$ (45.00)   Let sleeping dogs lay and a calm, content animal will awake.  The pleasant combination of soft tannins and ripe dark cherries with a gentle woody tone.  This is a gem of a wine that could be enjoyed for years to come with proper storage conditions.  A great example of Alexander Valleyís richness.  

1997 Arbor Crest Dionysus $$ (39.00)  This Meritage from Washington starts out in search of aerobic exercise.  Itís tight and needs oxidation to mellow the wood and bring forth the red cherry, and cinnamon flavors.  Once stretched and loose, the wood tails to a pleasant cedar flavoring for the Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc blend.  

2002 Vina Tarapaca Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva $ (6.05)   Though this wine shows a very promising bouquet, the taste just doesnít hold up.  A good example of cassis, dark cherry and oak greet you, the wine tales off too soon for those flavors to linger in the mouth.  Chilean quality is on the rise, but this one has a bit to go.  

1999 Angove Bear Crossing $ (11.99)     This is a 60/40 blend of Cabernet and Merlot from down under showing soft fruit and an herb nose.  Mildly tannic and simple, this wine is easy drinking for those who want a toned-down cabernet.
1998 Bodegas Y Cavas De Weinert Carrascal
$ 10.99    Dark cherry, blackberry, tobacco and currant grace this blended Argentinean wine, made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Merlot.  A structured wine with plenty of fruit and a brash finish

1997 Regusci, Stagís Leap Cabernet Ė $$$100 (Rest.)  Whoa, if you like Plumpjack Cab or Stagís Leap Vineyards red you will love this.  The Regusci family has been a dominant grower of fruit for many of the ďbig nameĒ vineyards for nearly 33 years.  In í96 they began bottling some of their fruit under their own label and if you have not heard/tried this offering, you are missing a fantastic bottle of wine.  Intense berry like fruit and smooth finish is just part of this complex Cab.  You owe it to yourself to try this wine.  Rating 95  WinoHondo

1998 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon $$ (41.00)   Breathe deep, not you, the wine.  This one needs air to reveal its beauty, plenty of rich fruit and saucy tannins.  Elegance and sophistication define this wine.  

1996 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon ($$$?)     This wine requires the oxidation process to release the fruit from the strangle hold the tannins have on it.  Early tasting leaves your mouth without saliva for 5 minutes.  Then the grand structure of fruits and cassis and oak and smoke all swirl around your mouth like a carrousel ride.  Drink this with winos that donít put ice in red wine.  

1999 Provenance Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford $$ (50.00 rest.)    The aroma off the wine reminded me of the amoxicynin I took as a kid for an inner ear infection, a sweet artificial bubble-gum, medicine nose.  This wine dries your tongue faster than peanut butter, but over time, releases the dark cherry fruits one expects.  Even over time, the medicinal aroma stays, even as the sweetness disappears.  

1998 Casa Lapostolle Cuvee Alexandre Cabernet Sauvignon, Rapel Valley $$ (31.00 rest.)   This wine boasts plenty of black fruit and oak aromas, but disappoints on the palette, drinking lighter and thinner then expected.  

1999 Vermonte Cabernet Sauvignon $ (7.99)   As Chile is an up and comer, I look to her for value wines.  This one was harsh and immature.  Most people would not hang around long enough to find the dark fruit flavor, too little, too late.  

1997 Meritage ďValley of the MoonĒ Reserve  $$ (it was 15.00 per glass)   This wine had cherry, berry and tannin, earth-tones and a sophisticated finish will greet you as you bring this wine into your mouth.  This was a strong enough wine to handle the peppery Elk, yet elegant enough to support the side dishes.  

1997 Charles Krug Family Reserve Generations, Napa Valley $$ (28.00)     This meritage is made up of 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Cabernet Franc and 17% Merlot.  The wine pours out soft on the tongue and shows the interplay of the grapes.  Plum, cherry and dark chocolate flavors are enhanced by the oak and spices.

1999 KRV Marcata $ (17.00 rest-7.95 retail)   I enjoyed the experience, but would not list this Cabernet/Merlot blend as a top pick.  This wine was thin and lacked depth.  The fruit offered little to the palette.

1999 Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon $$ (28.00) A firm Cabernet with oak from head to toe.  Dark cherry, tobacco and leather with earthy undertones.  Mild tannins make this enjoyable for the future.

1996 Bell Cabernet Sauvignon Baritelle Vineyards, Jackson Clone, Rutherford $$ (35.00 discounted from 50.00)   Flavors of mature fruit, with a cedary, dusty character to them.  A bright brick hue and soft elegant tannins make this wine drinkable right now.  Not chewy or particularly long on the finish, but well structured.

1999 Rodney Strong Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma County  $$ (32.00 rest.)   I enjoy RS Cab, but this one is too young and the tannins control the fruit like a wife.  The fruit is lurking in the background looking to find an opening in the conversation to rear their head.  Even after the second glass, the dark cherry and tobacco must ask permission to visit your palette.

1993 Sterling Vineyards Reserve, SVR Meritage Ė Price $24.00 for a split (purchased at the winery in 1995)  The label listed this as a Meritage that was blended using 61% Cab., 14% Merlot, 12% Petit Verdot, 11% Cab. Franc and 2% Malbec and although this bottle was stored in less than optimum conditions, it held on nicely.  A reasonable amount of fruit complemented this offering, which was so dark and purple, I couldnít see through it!  The finish lingered and left you with full, rich flavors of currant and spice.  Worth a try.  Rating 87. Wino Hondo

1997 BV George De Latour Ė  $110 (CA Rest.)  Open this beauty up prior to drinking and watch out.  Smooth is the best way to sum up this red.  A nose of fruit laced with ripe red berries and currant  provided the first indication that this is wine that is at the top of itsí class.  Well defined structure with plenty of taste that is complemented by a silky smooth finish.  This baby is increasingly hard to find (as are most Ď97s) but worth the hunt.  I happened to find a restaurant in Santa Clara, CA that just received a case.  I see myself eating out quite a bit this month!  Rating 94  Wino Hondo

2000 Armador Cabernet Sauvignon $ (8.99)   Chile is making some good Cabs for cheap prices and this is a shinning example.  Just enough tannin to dry the tongue and rich generous cherry and tobacco. 

1997 Hendry Block 8 Cabernet Sauvignon $$ (36.00)    This wine lacked the fruit and length to make it a winner in my book.  Medium bodied, black fruit and a minty accent gave this an interesting flavor but not enough to hold your attention

1998 Franciscan Oakville Estates Magnificat Meritage $$$ (55.00 rest.)  Deep ruby, full-bodied, heavily oaked and a tongue drying tannin made this fruit packed wine delicious.  Good depth with blackberry, cherry, leather and an earthen aroma  


1999 Hedges $ (7.95 on special)   This Bordeaux blend from Washington State shares two things in common with Bordeaux, it is red and it uses the grapes common to Bordeaux.  Thin, and watery are the best I could muster to describe this wine.  It gets back to the old adage, you get what you pay for.  

1999 Smoking Loon Cabernet Sauvignon $ 9.99   Maybe it was the volume of fruit at the initial olfactory impression, maybe it was the mouthful of fruit with the first taste, or maybe it was the light tannins that made this a good Cab, drinkable right now.  Impressive especially when you think about the price.   (Editor's note: I disagree entirely.  This wine was barely drinkable.)

1997 Rustenberg Stellenbosch $    This Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc from South Africa is good, but lacks the length and fruit to make this memorable.  Stellenbosch is a region I love but this one does not carry the power of others Iíve enjoyed.

1998 Hedges Columbia Valley Red Wine $ (11.00)   Dark and deep purple color, this blend of 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, 5% Syrah gives this depth and complexity.  Raspberry, chocolate and cranberry flavors dance in your mouth, but the wine does not last long enough to push this higher on the list.

1997 Lancaster Reserve Alexander Valley $$$ (59.00)    The blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot and 14% Cabernet Franc is an elegant wine that is smooth and full of black cherry.  This wine will cellar for the next 5 years to bring out more of the beauty in the bottle.  By the second glass, this wine balanced the tannin, fruits and floral aromas. 

1999 Valle Andino Cabernet Sauvignon $ 8.99 Sorry, this one was bitter and harsh going down no matter how long I swirled, and let sit.  It never opened though it softened a bit, not a pleasant wine experience.

1998 Rodney Strong Cabernet Sauvignon  ? Pleasant, and balanced, this wine had a playful level of tannin to back up the dark cherry flavors and made this wine stand up well with the red snapper and filet mignon main course.  A good wine to drink on a weekend with friends.  

1997 Sebastiani Sonoma Cask Cabernet Sauvignon $ (20.00)   This wine is 97% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Cabernet Franc and aged in West Virginian oak for 17 months.  The harsh tannins mute the opulent, jammy fruit.  This has a harshness that lessens the spirit of this wine.      

1997 Beaulieu Vineyards Tapestry $$$(70.00 restaurant) Smooth, powerful, velvety, full in body and flavor.  Rich textured and complex made from 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot.  This is an example of why I prefer blends to cepages.  Depth, cherry and blackberry and vanilla and currant mix and mingle to the delight of your palate.  Special occasions are befitting of this beauty.  

1997 Casa Lapostolle Cabernet Sauvignon Cuvee Alexandre $ (16.00)   Pure Cabernet aromas rocket from the surface of this wine with depth from the 11 months in oak (92% in French oak, 8% in American oak-50% new barrels, 40% 1 year old and 10% 2 years old).  This wine has great fruit and tannins that will allow this to sit in the bottle for years to come.  Blackberry and coffee dominate this wine.  For those looking for wines under $20.00 that have guts, this is a big, bold red wine loverís style.  

1997 Sea Ridge Coastal Cabernet Sauvignon $ (9.99)   Though not intense or bold, this wine is drinkable now with rich berry flavors and mild tannins.  Medium-bodied, there is a bouquet of vanilla from the toasted oak barrel.  There will be some bottle aging enhancements but it's not worth hiding this one away.  And remember, next time you are having Pepper Steak with Port Wine Mushroom Sauce, think Sea Ridge Coastal.  I personally think this wine will not hold up to a really peppery steak. 

1997 Dry Creek Vineyards Epoch II Millennium Cuvee Cabernet  $65.00  Filled with flavors of cherry and ripe plums, this full-bodied blend of Cabernet and Merlot (blend percentages are not provided) was nicely balanced with a toasty oak finish.  A thick, syrupy texture ensured that this wine sticks to your tongue and lingers until your next sip!  This is an approachable bottle now that will only get better over the next 10 plus years.  Rating  91  WinoHondo  

1994 Cabernet Sauvignon Durney Vineyards $ (11.00)   Slogan of the winery is ďDances On Your PalateĒ and from the first sip youíll know why.  This wine is a cabernet, merlot, malbec, cabernet franc combination that is heavily wooded.  A cedar nose prevails and the cedar brings a Southern Rhonesque flavor to the wine.  Open and let this one breath for a while.  By the second glass, the fruit arrived and delighted.  

1995 Cousino Macul Finis Terrae $$ (31.99)    "Tight" and "rough" and "hot" are words to start off with.  The tannin is so upfront that the alcohol is the next sensation one gets.  Only after a good long time of swirling and standing in the glass did the fruit appear.  Earthy, plum and black currant arrives after the long wait.  This full body wine has a great deal of astringency and leads me to believe that this will sit in the bottle for 10 years before the fruit is present in the first taste.  A high priced Chilean wine.  

1997 Rodney Strong Alexanderís Crown Cabernet.  Price $28.00 (CA Supermarket)  A very big and full Sonoma Cab.  Lots of color and aroma from the very first pour.  A bouquet of fruit that included plum and ripe dark cherry. The finish lasted nicely with a solid earthy, anise undertone.  A very nice bottle to drink now, or hold for later enjoyment.  Buy a lot!  Rating 90  WinoHondo

1997 Seavey, Napa Valley Cabernet.   $85.00 (rest.)  This light bodied Cab displayed a very smooth texture that held nice fruit.  A very nice nose and velvety finish made this an enjoyable and approachable bottle of wine.  Rating 88  WinoHondo

1996 Silver Oak, Alexander Valley Cabernet.  $140 (rest)  Delicious and smooth.  Fruit, nose, depth, finish, itís all in there!.  Fantastic bottle of wine (even at this price)   Rating 95.  WinoHondo

1996 Clos du Bois, Marlstone Meritage.  $65.00 (rest)  A very smooth drinkable bottle of wine that displayed fruit and a very nice texture on your palate.  Plenty of complexity and a finish that held a balance of anise and some spice.  Rating 90  WinoHondo

1997 Clos du Bois, Marlstone Meritage.   $65.00 (rest.)  Smoother than the 1996, plenty of up-front fruit and a lingering and balanced finish.  The 1997 stays with you a little longer than the 1996 and offered a little more depth.  Great value for the price!  Rating 91  WinoHondo

1993 Bianchi Particular Cabernet Sauvignon Proprietorís Reserve $ 12.99  I would not buy this ever again!!!  

1995 Cakebread Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley $$ (38.00)   So I splurged on a Friday night, but this wine looks garnet in the glass and gives off a Big Cab aroma.  A good structure of oak is present.  The feel of this wine is velvet in your mouth with a big, full, fruity taste.  Warning, donít drink this wine for a light fun night.  This is a serious cab and should be enjoyed as such.  Mild tannins and a long finish. 

1997 Kenwood Jack London Vineyard Cabernet.  $31.00  Not an especially fruity wine that lacked much discerning flavor up front.  The finish had some Anise and earthy flavors that were not too bad.  All in all, not a fantastic bottle for the money.  Rating  80  WinoHondo


1998 Pezzi King Cabernet.  $30.00  A different style cab with a mouthful of up-front flavor that included strawberry and a fruity black cherry note that was a little sweet on the palate.  The finish was a little raspy with a hint of vanilla and some green grass undertones.  There are better 30 dollar bottles of wine, but maybe I should have let it age more than a few days!  Rating 84  WinoHondo


1998 Beringer Founderís Estate Cabernet Sauvignon $ (17.00)    This young, snappy wine needs time to mellow.  Harshness and tannins overshadowed any fruit that could have made this enjoyable.  Disappointing in what it never delivered.

1997 Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz $$ (38.00)   This blend balanced the Cabernet Sauvignon well with the Shiraz grape.  A big, full-bodied red wine that delivered plenty of fruit with mild tannins and a long finish.  A solid wine from a well know producer.

1996 Rodney Strong Symmetry $$$$ (85.00)    A Bordeaux blend of 60% Cabernet, 30% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc, this wine showed some tight tannins to start off with and loosened up towards the end of the bottle.  The finish was clipped and the cabernet was not as fruity as one would have expected from this wine.  I did not get much depth from this blend.  A good wine, but not enough character to set it apart from the pack.

1997 Stagís Leap Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Napa  $??    This wine was delicious.  A full Cabernet showing dark cherry fruit and a smooth, long finish.  A small tannin hint to know this wine will cellar for years to come.  This is a sensory pleaser with great bouquet.  Search this one out.  


1995 Charles Krug Cabernet Sauvignon Vintage Selection Napa Valley $$ (48.00)    Find this cabernet and enjoy it today.  If you could wrap a dark cherry in a velvet glove, you would have this wine.  A medium-bodied fruit packed with a slight nose of oak and a long finish.  This is ready to drink, showing the slightest hint of tannin.  This is a wine that should be allowed to open and, once it does, the Red wine drinkers in your crowd will beg for more.  A winner!!!  

1995 Bernardus Marinus $$ (32.00)   Deep, dark color, this wine sloshes when you swirl because of the full-body it shows.  Cabernet Sauvignon dominates the aroma though this is a blend of Cab, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petite Verdot.  Big, weighty, mouth-filling, cut-it-with-a-knife and chew this wine.  This is a BIG-ass Cabernet, not for the faint of heart.  

1998 Charles Krug Cabernet Sauvignon $$ (38.00)   Dark brick red and a full body meet your eye as you swirl this wine.  Succulent juicy berries greet your nose and mouthfuls of fruit with overtones of oak grace your palette.  A slight after taste kept me from rating this higher, but itís young, folks.  Give it a try.  

1996 Arrowood Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County $$ (38.00)  

1997 Plumpjack Cabernet  Ė Price $90.00 (Rest.)  I was always a big fan of this little winery, but wait until you try a bottle of the í97.  This wine is Big with lots of flavor and plenty of body.  Left open for about one hour prior to drinking, this wine had plenty of time to open up and become everything it could be.  Read the '94 review below and multiply!  If you see some, buy it.  Rating 95  WinoHondo

1997 Groth Cabernet Ė Price $85.00 (Rest.)  Another fantastic bottle of Red from this premier winery.  This Cab was left open for about 45 min prior to enjoyment and proved to have all the taste you expect in a Groth Cab.  The first taste provided firm fruit and tannin that paired beautifully with the dinner of Steak and Prime Rib.  If this wine lacked anything, a longer finish may have been it.  Still a bottle worth having.  Rating 90  WinoHondo

1997 Silver Oak Alexander Valley - $100.00 (Rest.)  Expense Reports are a great thing!  What a terrific bottle of wine.  We had this bottle poured into a decanter for about 1 hour prior to serving and this was one smooth bottle.  There is nothing to say but get as much as you can of this dark red beauty.  Great dark color, tons of fruit and just enough wood to make you want a lot more!  Rating 96  WinoHondo

1997 Sena Meritage Ė Price $80.00 (Rest.)  This Chilean blend is a complex, spicy contender!  If you have yet to come across this wine, find a way to get your hands on some and try a bottle.  Lots of color and a Bordeaux style complexity that you just canít get in a straight Cab.  Granted, it is a little spicy with a slightly peppery finish, but paired with the right meal (or on itís own), you gotta try this.  Rating 93  WinoHondo

1997 Symmetry Sonoma Meritage - $75.00 (Rest.)  This Sonoma blend offers a Bordeaux style flavor that is extremely approachable and smooth for such a young wine.  No overpowering fruit here, just lots of well balance flavors that end in a velvet like texture that coats your mouth.   If you see it, buy it.  Rating 92  WinoHondo

1996 Guenoc Beckstoffer IV Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon  $?   Deliciously fruitful with soft tannins give this wine a highly drinkable rating.  Round and soft and lengthy.  There is enough fruit in this wine to store in the cellar for years of enjoyment.  

1997 Quintessa $$$ (79.00)  This wine is crafted by wine mogul, August Huneeus, whose credits include Franciscan Estates, Estancia, Mt. Veeder, Pinnacles, and Veremonte.  Quintessa is his Ultra Premium Meritage comprised of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc.  Rich, dark cherry fruit and a balance of tannins make this a wine that can be savored now or cellared for years to come.  

1992 Gallo Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon $ (11.00)   This wine was OK.   It did not have a great deal of anything.  The cabernet aroma was weak, the fruit was there but did not last, and the tannins played more of a role than a 1992 should have seen. Drinkable, but nothing to write home about.  

1986 Caymus Special Selection $$$$$$$$$(235.00)  This, my friends, is a beautiful wine.  However, this wine needs a large amount of time for the air to let it unfold.  Glass one was tough, but the second glass brought out a deliciously full-bodied Cabernet that lives at the top of the food chain. This is a once in a lifetime wine, the apex of Californiaís Cabernet.   

1974 Mayacaymus O'Shaughnessy Vineyard Cabernet - Initially, I had no hope for this bottle and had to extract the cork in multiple pieces as it had seriously deteriorated.  However, after about a 30 minute decanting, this wine proved that Napa Valley can produce fine wines that age with the best of them.  Once poured, you immediately notice that the color has turned to a rustic, brownish red.  Upon first taste, you also note that some of the fruit is gone with the age, however, this wine held terrific complexity with a smooth mouth feel and syrupy texture. Replacing some of the missing fruit was an "underbody" of earth and anise flavor that provided just the right finish to a well aged bottle.  I doubt that you will see this one hanging around but, if you do, get some.  Rated 93  Price???  WinoHondo

1994 Plumpjack Cabernet   - A micro-winery in the heralded Stag's Leap District.  In fact, until '94, this grower sold all of their fruit to Stag's Leap Winery.  (Sorry, had to add a little history lesson!)  Ever had a Stag's Fay or SLV?  Well, this wine holds it's own with either of them.  Deep purple color with tons of fruit, strong flavors that include Raspberry, Current and almost a hint of Blueberry.  The finish on this wine is lingering with complexity and body. This wine could easily benefit from another 6-10 years of aging.  This hard to find wine was purchased at the winery in 1994 for $20 when they were just getting started.  Now the price is easily in the $55-60 range and it would still be worth it.  Rating 95+  WinoHondo


1998 Liberty School Cabernet $ (22.00)   Still tightly wrapped in the bottle, this cab was harsh and tannic, which totally overrode the fruit.  This needs plenty of oxidation for enjoyment so open it,  pour it, and let it breathe long before you plan on bringing it to your lips.  

1995 Caymus Cabernet $$$ 75?  A properly stored bottle of fantastic Cab.  The cork was in perfect condition, color and clarity of this wine were a lush purple.  The nose smelled slightly of raspberry and had a background of light earth.  This bottle was enjoyed in full size Cab glasses and allowed to breathe for 30-40 minutes prior to serving.  Silky smooth with great texture and an almost cherry like finish.  Great bottle of wine that would hold up properly stored for years to come.   Rated 90  WinoHondo

1996 Chateau St. Jean Cinq Cepages  $95  Everything they write about this wine is true.  If you are partial to a Bordeaux style blend, you can't go wrong with this selection.  Although young, this wine displayed complexity whilst providing no trace of it's age.  The nose had a beautiful floral character and yet the taste still retained plenty of solid fruit and body.  We slowly enjoyed this wine over a one and a half hour meal and the last sip left us wanting more.  Of course, with a restaurant price of $95.00 I will continue to look for this vintage at my local wine retailers!   Rated 94  WinoHondo


1994 Silver Oak Alexander Valley - WOW!!!  WinoJohn

1997 BV Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon $ (19.99)  This is a solid cab from a strong producer.  A good solid fruit aroma and a lush body make this enjoyable.  The finish on this one was a bit harsh which kept this from rating higher.  Let this settle down for another year and the fruit will be luscious.  

1997 Penfold Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon $$$ (79.50)    This wine is too young to enjoy now, since tannins dominate the glass. Buy it and place it in the back of your rack.  If I could save this in the bottle for 5 years, this will be a big cab from the great producer of Penfold. 

1997 Geyser Peak Reserve Meritage $$ (38.16)     This wine is enjoyable now, but will hold up well over the next several years.  This has a good balance and an appealing, juicy character, which allows for pleasurable early drinking.  Enjoy this wine and let it out of the bottle.  

1994 Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon Bosche Estates $$ (39.00)     The tannins were mild and a moderately full-bodied lush wine appeared.  Then, quickly, it faded. I expected this wine to reveal a long chewy finish from the strong fruit nose. Could this one have had too much time in the bottle?  

1995 Weinert Cabernet Sauvignon $ (18.00)     This had unimpressive fruit and tannins that kept me from forming enough saliva to spit until Sunday morning.  This will not make my list again, in fact I would much rather buy 2 bottles of their Carrascal then 1 bottle of the Cab.  

1997 Beaulieu Vineyard George DeLatour Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon  $$$ (65.00)    This is a big, bold wine that fills your mouth and warms your throat from the first taste.  The only regret I have is that I tasted it so young.  This wine needs time to rest, quietly, in the corner of the cellar, hibernating for the next 5 years to let the tannins mute and the heritage of this wine to blossom.  

1997 Kanonkop Kadette $ (9.99) This South African blend is comprised of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Ruby Cabernet.  The nose of this was all cab and the fruit came on strong during the course of the bottle.  This is a 10-dollar wine that drank as well as the 20-dollar wine I had for lunch.  

1997 Campo Madonna Cabernet Sauvignon   I had this at a friendís house, so I do not know the price.  This Italian Cab comes from Tuscany, but was watery and thin for a Cabernet.  I expected a strong, full wine, but was disappointed from the lack of staying power it had on the palette.  I guess I am a Super Tuscan Guy. 

1998 Casa Lapostolle Cabernet Sauvignon $ (8.99)     There was not a great deal of fruit for palette to cling to.  Not overly tannin, not overly anything.  I actually did the unthinkable; I put an ice cube in to cool it down slightly so I could finish off the glass.  At the lower temperature, the wine did appear a bit more enjoyable, but still not one I will purchase again.  

1995 Navarro Correas Cabernet Sauvignon $ (11.99)   This is a Cabernet-Merlot blend but the bottle did not have a percent of each listed.  The wine was good, but not long lasting.  The fruit was there in the beginning but quickly left your taste buds.  The color was a dark ruby hue and the wine had a good Cabernet aroma, but it left you wanting a big bold taste, which was not there.  

1996 Weinert Carrascal $ (9.00)  The blend in this bottle is a Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Merlot and it gave a great oak cab nose as I poured my tasting.  The first glass was a bit tannic, but it rounded out well and, as I took my second glass out on the porch after dinner, this wine impressed me.   A solid red wine at $9.00 has me wondering if it is the wine or the price I am most taken by.  

1997 Jayson Red Table Wine $$ 42.65   This is 1.75 mice.   A Meritage consisting of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot and Melbec.  I was unimpressed. The fruit was okay, but did not have the length and strength I expected from an Oakville, Ca., Bordeaux style wine.  In my humble opinion, save your money on this one.  I'd rather buy 2 bottles of BV Ensemble instead of the 1 Jayson.  

1995 Cyrus $$ (32.00) This estate bottled, premier vintage from Cyrus is made up of 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Franc.  Cyrus is the Wetzel familyís tribute to their 25th year of fine winemaking.  13.9% alcohol!  As the wine opened up in the glass, a powerful wine, though young, proudly brought forward the Cabernet sauvignon. The scent of oaked fruit overtook the alcohol aroma making me want to light up a fine cigar.  This wine should lie in the basement for the next 5 years with no problem.  

1997 Geyser Peaks Meritage $$ (38.00)  Soft and mellow, this wine showed little tannin for a 1997.  A great compliment to the cheese and fruit platter served.  The full body of this blend stood up well to the sharp Blue Cheese.  The fruit did not come through as boldly as I expected.  The label did not identify the grape varietals and percent used of each but, from my limited experience, it seemed like Merlot made up a significant portion of this wine.  

1997 R.H. Phillips Toasted Head $ (16.67)  After my experience with a $5.99 bottle from R.H Phillips, I thought I would give them a shot at something more respectable.  This wine is a blend of 55% Cabernet, 45% Syrah, for those of use that like the big wines.  This was much better than the $5.99 wine, but still did not have the character to hang with the big boys.  This is a wine with a better nose than taste.  It just did not have the length and full fruit you would expect from a Cab/Syrah.  


1997 Rodney Strong Cabernet Sauvignon $ (18.00)   This is a good solid Cab that smells like a Cab and drinks like a Cab.  I like this one, but think I will like it more in a few years as the tannins soften.  Actually, half way through the first glass, I was ready to complain about the harshness of the tannins and how they were overriding the fruit, but this oxidized well and brought out a robust flavor that convinced me to pour up a glass the next day.  This will drink well in about 2 years, but buy it now before the price rises above 20 bucks.  

1997 Los Vascos (8.99)   This was not the reserve which sells for about 14.95, this was the basic crop and it is a good wine to have any time.  Low tannins and decent fruit flavors make this a table wine for causal suppers at home or when visiting friends.  Part of the Domaines Barons De Rothschild (Lafite) property, I recommend this to all and for those with a few extra bucks in their pocket, treat yourself to the 1997 Los Vascos Reserve.  This was a strong year for the cab grape South of the Border.  

1995 Cain Cuvee $(16.00)    This wine is made from 79% cabernet sauvignon, 5% Malbec, 4% Merlot and 12% Cabernet Franc.  Yes, a minor sibling to Cain Five, but for the price, this wine has a good Cabernet nose and a smooth, fruity finish. This wine actually got better the second day as it oxidized.  The first glass or two carried a bit more tannin then I enjoy, but the tannin softened on Sunday and I drank this with my salmon dinner.  This can only mean that the 1995 Cain Five is superb. 

1996 Menzies Cabernet Sauvignon $ (23.00)    This wine comes from the world renowned Coonawarra region.  This wine has more to give over the next few years, this should be opened in 2 more years.  The tannin cuts into the fruit a bit too much at this time.  The promise is there for this to be a great wine.  The nose is all fruit and at 14% alcohol, this wine is one for serious drinkers.  If there is any left in any of the stores you see, pick it up and lay it down.  

1996 Foppiano Cabernet Sauvignon $ (21.00 ?)    I will be generous and say that this wine will be enhanced with a large-bowl glass.  This did show soft tannins and decent fruit and I will have to buy a bottle just to review it on par with the rest of the wine I drink, not in plastic.  If the price for this is higher than the estimated $21 dollars, then the value of this wine is not there.  But, if I get a few cents back from a 20 dollar bill and drink this out of a glass, I will rate this as a great value wine.  

1997 Clos du Bois Cabernet Sauvignon $ (20.00 on the menu)   This wine was not the choice to follow a 1991 Grgich.  It showed little fruit and high acidity.  But I do not want to comment too much at this point because the 1991 was over-powering this Clos and over-ruled itís chances to show it at its best.

1991 Grgrich Cabernet Sauvignon $$$ (65.00 on the menu).   I once read an article and it stated that if you donít want to go for your lungs on price, find an off year with bottle age.  This wine was soft and smooth with a strong fruit and a slight off finish.  

1997 Stags Leap Cabernet Sauvignon   $9.00 per glassÖ  This wine was a pleasure to drink after dinner in a fine restaurant, slightly tannic with nice fruit.  A solid wine that made me think that a trip to the Valley is needed.   

1996 Franciscan Oakville Estates Magnifical  $$ (26.00)    This is a solid 2 bunch of drunken mice with the price just borderline 2 $.  I bet if I shopped, I could get this one into the 1 $ class which would make this a Bucky Dent.  An all around good wine, not a super star, but consistent.  This wine, when poured, gave off a magnificent Cabernet aroma.  But the acid at this point still over powers the fruit, making me look for one to put a years time longer in the bottle and this will be a pleasant wine to grace the dinner table.  


Mt. Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon 1996 - A big mouthful of fruit with tight tannins that soften with some air.  Will only get better with 2-5 yrs of bottle age.  Great value at $22.95.  92 points.  JH - 1/24/00

Ristow Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 1996   $$       This wine poured out rich in color, almost plum purple with a strong nose of fruit from the get go.  The tannins were mellow giving this fullness on the palette.  I enjoyed this wine and it complimented the blue cheese and pear slices to perfection. BS - 2/9/00

Gianni Paoletti Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 1995 -$$      Medium color with tannins ever present, I will seek this one out to age in my basement and try again at another time.  This wine could not withstand the onslaught of the sharpness in the blue cheese and held its own with the Brie.  A good wine, but dollar for dollar, not as bold and powerful as the aforementioned Ristow.  BS - 2/9/00


Ferrari-Carano Siena Sonoma County 1997 - A blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Malbec.  "Reminiscent of the rich Sangiovese/Cabernet blends produced in the famed Tuscany region..." according to the label on the back of the bottle.  I don't think so, Tim.  Not as full bodied as the referenced wines of Italy and with berry flavors lost in the tannins.  Maybe in a few years...  85 points.  JH - 2/13/00

Robert Mondovi Coastal 1997  $    This wine was delicious, showing a lot of up-front fruit and just enough tannin to stiffen its backbone.  I think this one will be delicious 2 years from now and at a reasonable price, I think this is a great weekend wine for casual drinking.  BS 2/14/00

Penfold Koununga Hill  1998  52% Shiraz-48% Cabernet Sauvignon - $   Drink now?  Oh no, Jerry. Cellaring short term is what I need to do.  Who ever said that this wine is ready to be consumed was mistaken.  The Cabernet is still young and carries acids and tannin that stifle the length and beauty of the shiraz. BS - 2/11/00




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