2009 Cabernet and Merlot Round Up

Our End of Year Round-up

2005 Tangley Oaks Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Lot 9

Warm with licorice, , herb, eucalyptus, and spiced plum cake notes.  This is soft and fruity in the mouth with nice acids lending this some freshness and supporting the cranberry and red currant fruit notes.  The tannins pop out on the finish a bit but remain restrained giving this an elegance on the back end which shows a bit more dark, black currant fruit notes. A very fruit forward style of wine. 88pts

2006 Oriel Midnight Rambler Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon

Rather fruit driven, yet restrained, on the nose with a nice bouquet of slightly herbaceous and slightly candied blackberry fruits with wood spice tones playing a supporting role.  A little light bodied with bright, acid driven flavors of slightly baconny black raspberries with an edge of vanilla and lots of milk chocolate and cherry on the finish. Nicely proportioned if smaller scaled. 88pts

2007 Going Forward Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Big, sweet in your face style of cabernet with a touch of smoked chili accenting the black currant, tobacco and cocoa dotted fruit. Has a hint of green floral character with some pencil lead. Medium bodied and fairly sharp in the mouth with leafy black currant fruit, modest, juicy tannins and nicely integrated acidity. Bright, fruit and a touch drying on the finish but bright and fresh. 88pts

2007 Go Figure Napa Valley  Cabernet Lot 4

Soft and subdued on the nose with smoke, herb and black currant notes.  A little sweet perhaps but very smooth and rich with an easy, simple style but nice fresh note of black fruit with a touch of spicy oak and vanilla adding some detail. Finishes a bit on the lean side but with good intensity to the dark flavors. 87pts

2005 Arbois Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Eucalyptus and minty herb nose is very aggressive with all sorts of chilies, olive and oak tones over the lightly baked black fruit tones. Big on entry then turning a bit leaner with plenty of acid accenting the hard, olivy, dry earthy, toasty mid-palate. There’s some nice red currant fruits intermixed on the palate but this is a very tannic and dry wine 86pts

2007 Montevina California Cabernet Sauvignon

Spicy red currants, green bell pepper, chipotle and herbs on the nose, with a little watermelon fruitiness.  Easy and fruity with fresh red flavors that recall watermelon jolly ranchers, vanilla, and candied red cherry. This is lightish bodied, with some astringency from the tannins but that adds a nice freshness to the fruit. The finish is short and simple but that’s what this is all about.  85pts

2008 The Crusher Wilson Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

Smells intensely of oak, tobacco, tea, pine and plum. Very smooth and easy in the mouth with a simple, bright personality that highlights the balsam tinged, slightly candied purple and blue fruits.  A bit snappy on the backend with high acid and slightly astringent tannins but a fair amount of wine for the price. 85pts

2006 Hess Allomi Vineyard Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Shoe polish, bay leaf, small black fruits, oak, roasted herbs, thyme all are layered on the nose.  This is smooth and rich but also hollow. There’s plenty of extract to work with but this is either closed or just remarkably lifeless with plenty of ripe fruit flavors that just sit on your tongue. The finish is drying and tannic, if very chocolaty and long.  84pts

2008 Round Hill California Cabernet Sauvignon

Light aromatics are smoky and slightly caramelly with a hard, chemical edge to them and a bit of struck match. Very light and fluid in the mouth with some rustic tannins and a modest amount of red fruit. Not much to this but it’s well made and perfectly acceptable wine, if a bit tough and not particularly varietal. 82 pts


2005 Toasted Head Alex Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Rotting wood, old barrel, burnt sugar, with lots of vegetal, pepper and tomato notes underneath.  Rather easy in the mouth with a bbq sauce, ketchupy quality to the wine. Acid seems elevated, tannin non-existent on the palate but a little clingy on the lightly fruity finish. 77pts


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  • Snooth User: dmcker
    Hand of Snooth
    125836 7,107

    Thanks for the tasting notes on the merlots and cabs, Greg. Don't remember seeing the merlot portion of this article when the email went out. Glad to find it now, though.

    Would be interesting if you could do a further tasting of merlots, with a greater balance from outside California, also including several from Europe. Also would be interesting to see a tasting of cabs at $25 or less, as per the discussion in this forum thread:

    So much wine out there, and so few opportunities to taste across its range. Your advice on producers and bottles is very much appreciated.

    Dec 24, 2009 at 4:59 PM

  • I highly recommend 14 Hands Cabernet out of Washington State, reasonably priced as well (14 WS, 28 RT). It is a rare find for the money and only available at finer restaurants and select wine shops. Try it!!! Cheers!

    Jan 06, 2010 at 2:24 PM

  • Need a red wine for a Bordeaux Tasting, got five already, possible Cab Sauv, any ideas not too pricey

    Aug 08, 2010 at 1:43 PM

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