Wine Talk

Snooth User: JonDerry

2008 CA Cabernet Sauvignon

Posted by JonDerry, May 13, 2012.

Invited some neighbor friends over to watch the Clipper game last night, and the two wine bearers both brought 2008 California Cabs over with them, and I happened to be planning on serving one myself, along with a 2009 Felsina Chianti Classico.

2008 Chasing Lions Cabernet Sauvignon, North Coast, CA ($10 - $13):

This was brought in by neighbor. Good way to kick off the night, had regional typicity and was pleasantly average, maybe a hair above. Solid value here for a drink me now cab at around $10+, could probably last another year or so. 5.5 - 6.0/ 10

2008 Frei Brothers Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, CA ($19): 

Seriously, this could've been the most enjoyable California Cabernet I've tasted for under $40 over the last several years. Beyond the regional typicity, it has good and concentrated fruit, probably a little more oak than you bargained for, but the powerful and long finish is what sets this wine apart, and I don't mean just for its class level, if I were tasting blind, the finish would've stood out in pretty much any kind of CA tasting. Overall, the structure is blue collar cabernet, but the taste and finish make it special. Clear wine of the night. When I saw my neighbor bring this in, I seriously considered not even opening it. 8.5/ 10

2008 Chappellet Signature Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, CA ($40)

Cleaner and showed very good balance, but it after the Frei Brothers, this well regarded, value Napa Cab was underwhelming, and suddenly didn't seem like such great value. 7.0 - 7.5/ 10

2009 Felsina Chianti Classico, ($17)

Showed very well, a bit tight at first but opened up nicely in the glass. Had the good freshness you'd expect, with the sour cherry fruit taking playing more of a complementary role. 7.5/ 10


Reply by JonDerry, May 21, 2012.

Did a re-taste of the 2008 Frei Brothers Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, and still believe this is great value for Cabernet. The bottle I had this past weekend didn't seem quite as disjointed as the first, but it also didn't have as much punch on the finish that I remembered. I'll probably squirrel another 1 or 2 away for a rainy day down the road. Also learned this isn't necessarily a "reserve" cabernet sauvignon, but the brand is "Frei Brothers Reserve"!

Also had a 2008 Ramey Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley: A very good wine, and certainly represents very good value for Napa Valley at around $45, though a bit too much sugar/fruit for my palate preferences these days. Already drinking well now, it slowly evolves over the first couple of hours of drinking, probably best in a couple years. I remember tasting the 2006 of this wine a couple years ago, and it seems to be leaning towards a slightly riper style than I remember. May have to try tracking down an 06' to confirm.

Reply by dmcker, May 21, 2012.
  • "Cleaner and showed very good balance, but it after the Frei Brothers, this well regarded, value Napa Cab was underwhelming,"
  • "Also learned this isn't necessarily a "reserve" cabernet sauvignon, but the brand is "Frei Brothers Reserve"!"


The Chappellet, even if one of their 'value' versions, may just still be too young. Different style, so that's how I'd treat it.


Ah yes, the innate value of the name 'reserve'!

Reply by EMark, May 21, 2012.

I don't think "Reserve" has any legal meaning on the labels of Californina wines.  You have to know the producer.  On the other hand, I believe that "Reserve" is legally defined for Washington state wines.  My recollection, however, is that WA definition contains plenty of "squirrelly" nomenclatures that still provide fodder for the lawyers.  I don't know about other states. 

Reply by Lucha Vino, May 21, 2012.

How did 2007 compare to 2008 in Napa?  Celebrating the Tour of California, I just did a comparison of a 2007 Napa cab to a 2007 Cab from Walla Walla.  The Walla Walla showed really well at about 1/3 the retail price!  More on this after I get a chance to write up all my notes.

I have read that 2007 was one of the "best Washington vintages ever" from several sources.  Have others heard or read this?


Reply by JonDerry, May 22, 2012.

Lucha, 2007 was a very good harvest year for Napa, and good weather all around. However, 2008 had some frost early in the season, so while yields were low (about half of 07), what came back was more concentrated than 2007. 

2007 was way overhyped in CA IMO, and I generally prefer 2008. I'm coming to realize that there are so many microclimates and winemaking styles that the vintage is just one piece of the puzzle. Paying attention to winemaker's, for instance, is much more important. If you look at Bordeaux, by contrast, while the winemaking style is starting to stray a little bit towards a riper style in some instances, the overall style is much more uniform towards traditional, and lower alcohol, at least below 15% in 90+%, and more generally right around 14% or south.

I haven't heard much about Washington in 07', other than the values can be great, heck take Chateau Ste Michelle!

Reply by JonDerry, May 22, 2012.

Following up, the Ramey on day 2 here didn't show well at all. Seemed to advanced toward vinegar state all too quickly, though to be fair there was only about 20% of the bottle left over where it spent the night and today corked and in the fridge. Let it come up to near room temp before tasting.

D, point taken on the Chappellet, it probably deserves another chance, but overall it leans toward the Ramey in style, especially compared to the Dunn.

Reply by dmcker, May 22, 2012.

Ramey is vinegar on day 2 even though in the fridge???

Reply by JonDerry, May 22, 2012.

It was open for 5 hours Sunday night between dinner and sipping later at home into the wee hours. There really wasn't much left, but still. It was on its way to that vinegar taste when I opened it on day 2 (in the evening). No pleasure when taken out cold, and the same when let rise to room temp. 

Reply by dmcker, May 22, 2012.

Still too early for vinegar, even if the aromatics are toast and flavor profile steamrolled. Wonder what's going on there.

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