Wine Talk

Snooth User: dvogler

Cabernet Sauvignon (80% min) blind tasting

Posted by dvogler, Feb 17.

On Saturday afternoon, Zufrieden and I went to a fellow wine aficionado's place for a cabernet sauvignon (at least 80%) blind tasting. 

Zuf decanted and brought a 2014 Boekenhoutskloof "Stellenbosch" (92% cs, 8% cab franc).

I decanted and brought a 2012 Quilceda Creek "CVR" (83% cs, 11% merlot, 4% cf, 1% pv, 1% malbec)  and I brought a 2008 Stormy Weather (Napa, 100% cs).

(The Stormy Weather is made by Cameron Woodbridge, who lives in Victoria and is brothers with Jayson Woodbridge (who owns Hundred Acre, Layer Cake (recently sold I believe) and other labels in Napa).

Also in the mix were a 2012 Don Melchor, Chile (93% cs, 7% cf), a 2011 La Stella "La Sophia", BC (100% cs), a 2010 Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia, Tuscany (85% cs, 15% cf) and finally a 2012 Hendry, Napa (100% cs).

Another attendee was Mike Rathjen, owner of Rathjen Cellars which is local and owns several vineyards north of Victoria (Cowichan Valley) and makes some great wine which Zuf can expound on.  Mike brought a Kiona "Red Mountain" blend, but was more for something to enjoy after, which we did as I'm a huge fan, but it didn't meet the 80% cs threshold for the tasting.

I didn't take many notes as I was determined simply to guess which wines were which.  I can say that there was certainly disparity, but not in a negative sense.  There were about half that seemed to fit the "cab sav" profile and half that seemed not to, which is about right for the number of blends.

The South African had a beautiful floral note on the nose which I loved.  The Don Melchor was full bodied and somewhat tannic and I thought could go another decade.  The Hendry was classic cab sav and drinking well-balanced and pleasant.  The Sassicaia had what Mike Rathjen pointed out as a fault with acidity and reminded me of antiseptic.  The La Stella was a big surprise for a BC cab sav, which we don't ripen fully very much of.  The CVR was unmemorable to me and the Stormy Weather was a Parker fruit bomb.

I'll cut and paste the host's tasting notes from cellar tracker:

Quilceda Creek 2012 "CVR"

Very well-balanced wine. Pronounced nose of brandied cherries and just the right amount of oak spice. Vibrant and fresh on the palate. Still young with great structure to age well... or at least long enough until the big brother QC Cab Sauv is ready to open.

2012 Hendry cab sav

Showed very well in a blind tasting of global cabernets. Initially, the massive nose was almost Syrah-like with big black fruits and a savoury peppery note. Still quite young in the glass. Rich, ripe dark red fruit on the palate with tannins and acid delivering some tension and vibrancy. Really a delightful wine. Atypical of most Napa Cabs tasted as of late. Not easy to find in Canada. Thanks Ross!

Concha Y Toro Don Melchor 

Has matured well over last couple of years. Dark purple, full-bodied. Black cherry, dried currants, great spice layer. A touch sweet when compared with several other Cabs tasted blind alongside. Wouldn't hesitate to have this with roasted rack of lamb, rosemary garlic potatoes and simple sautéed green beans.

2008 Stormy Weather cab sav

The standout in a blind tasting of high quality Cabernets from around the globe ex-France. This was all power, grace and a mile long finish. Not much more to add to the other recent TNs. Thanks Darren - great showing.

2010 Sassicaia

This is our second bottle of the 2010 that is seriously underwhelming. A bit fragrant at first with cherry and spice notes and then the VA takes over. The wine is out of balance, the acidity dominates from the palate thru to the finish. Almost sour. Not enjoyable.

2011 La Stella "La Sophia"

La Sophia has come around! The tannins are well-integrated now. Showed very well at a global Cab Sauv blind tasting. This is serious Cabernet, not a Napa over-oaked, fruit bomb. It has a pronounced nose of cassis, mint and black olive. All elements carry thru on a medium-plus weight and lingering finish. Really well done. Very proud to call this BC wine.

The Boekenhoutskloof Cab (with 8% Cabernet Franc) is a gem. It is medium dark in the glass with a bouquet of soft brambleberry, vanilla, soft cedar and cream; entry is smooth, integrated and perfect for immediate drinking; finish is long, satisfying and shows style. European mouthfeel.

Ross (who's cousin is Mike Hendry) and brought the Hendry to the event, said the Boekenhoutskloof was one of his favourites.  It was in the top three for me as well as Mike Rathjen and Zuf.


Reply by dvogler, Feb 17.

PS:  I had the first five wines totally wrong.  Only guessed the Sassicaia and Stormy Weather correctly ;)

PPS:  Is it my computer or is this site REALLY slow from click to click and things happening?

Reply by jackwerickson, Mar 2.

No I have also had problems, wonder if why there have been no articles.miss them. The day you wrote about tasting I just finished my last 2012 CVR, which I thought was great,I think for the price this is a great wine, but I think Quilceda Creek is a great value for the price when compared to Napa wines which are at least double the price. Now to my real question read Shane Sullivan,writes Washington wines and for Wine enthusiast , he was reviewing Oregon Pinots and as I understood it he was comparing them against what he thought Oregon Pinots should taste like, while in enjoy Oregon Pinots I don’t find them to taste the way Pinots from France do. My question is this the way all reviewers do it. For example do they take a cab from Napa and compare only to Napa wines or what a cab should taste like. Look forward to your thoughts 

Reply by EMark, Mar 4.

Looks like you had a good event, Darrin.

I agree, the site is p a i n f u l l y   s l o w.

Reply by dvogler, Mar 5.

Hi Jack,

Thanks to Zuf, I found if I Google "Snooth Forum beta", it works way better than my normal bookmark link to the site.

I am connected to Seam Sullivan's page on Facebook.  Great reports.  If you like Washington wine, there's another called Washington Wine Blog.  You'll be on there for days!

Any critic, taster or reviewer should identify the wine for what it is and only after they've stated it's characteristics, they could compare it to something similar.  I think it's silly to think something should or shouldn't taste like X, Y or Z.


Reply by GregT, Mar 8.

Interesting tasting DV. You were pretty much all over with the Cabs which I think makes it more interesting. And more interesting was the note on Hendry, which I've never had. We were drinking some wines from Bolgheri the other day, location of Sassicaia, and they were just great.

"My question is this the way all reviewers do it. For example do they take a cab from Napa and compare only to Napa wines or what a cab should taste like. Look forward to your thoughts"

Jack - that's a great question. I think it depends on the reviewer and the wine. For example, there are Cabs made world-wide and it's considered an "international" grape as a result. Even though it's originally from France. So people have a wide range of styles and they're OK with it coming in many guises.

OTOH, pick something like Nebbiolo or Aglianico. Those pretty much just come from Italy, either the north or the south, and although people are making them in a few other places, there is very little made outside of Italy. So people often compare them to the standards they know, which are going to be Piedmont or Campagna.

And that's what happened with Pinot Noir. Originally from Burgundy, it came in a lighter style that was often quite earthy. They planted it in Sonoma where there's plenty of sun and it turned into a dark purple, fairly sweet and fruity wine without the earthiness. Some people said it wasn't "Burgundian" and thus was an abomination. Other people said that's what the grape does in the new locations and rather than compare it to some standard, it should reflect its terroir. The fact that nobody made it like that before doesn't mean it's "wrong" in some way.

So depending on where you are on that issue, you'll score accordingly. Some people look for what they call "typicity", which means the wine is somehow "typical" of the grape or region or whatever. I think that in many ways that just means the wine conforms to pre-existing prejudice. OTOH, some people, including wine makers, say that they pick a grape because they want a "typical" characteristic of it. I find myself agreeing with that as well, so I'm a little bit stuck on the issue. I don't think it should be a limiting thing, but I understand wanting a little green in your Cab Franc.

And then part of it is the grape itself. Grapes like Riesling, Cab/Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, etc., kind of taste like themselves whether they're grown in Australia, Washington, France, Chile, South Africa, or wherever. Other grapes completely disappear into the character. It's like say, John Wayne or Edward Norton. With big John, you always knew what you were getting whether he was a cowboy, a marine, or a visitor to Ireland. With Ed Norton you get whatever that character is. So a grape like Syrah is almost impossible to pin down. It can be light and spicy or big and jammy or any number of other things. It came from the Rhone but if you look only for one that seems like it's from the Rhone, you miss a lot of interesting wine.

It's an interesting question. Today we tried a bunch of Tempranillo. But it was domestic. Some of them had the aromas I'm familiar with. Others didn't. There isn't much grown outside of Spain, so my frame of reference tended towards that and I liked those that reminded me of the Spanish versions (of which there are many). But I tried to let myself take the others for what they were - coming from a different continent and different climate. Same thing happens when you taste blends that include Sangiovese, Blaufrankisch, or whatever.

DV's tasting is interesting because I've had a number of those wines and they're always going to seem like Cab but those in that that particular lineup are really different in style. Don Melchor, Stellenbosch, BC and QC together would have been really interesting. Should have thrown in a Bordeaux too!

Reply by dvogler, Mar 10.

Greg, good to see you!  I mean, in this context.  

Zuf brought you to the tasting in spirit!  We wished you could have been there.  We tried to get a left-bank, but couldn't find one that met our 80% minimum Cab Sav content.  I'm sure there are some, but the host and Zuf both didn't have anything that worked.  

Hendry is the winery that Foxall and I went to before we went to Outthere's place.

Apparently, DM is trying to get another gathering in the works.

Reply by zufrieden, Mar 11.

We're hoping for another tasting in about a month or so.  Rare Bordeaux-style wines might be on the agenda at this time.  Interesting that last month the Boekenhoutskloof 2014 was one of the top two wines; these Western Cape wines tend to be more European to my palate, and the elegance won over some of the attendees, apparently, even given some preferences for heady drink.  Except for a fault noticed in the famed Italian entry, these wines were all excellent (in the 90 - 94 point range if you like numbers and reviewers... those sleight-of-hand artists who make money from nothing according to some, which is perhaps slightly unfair, since some adjudication is good in order to understand the aesthetic of the connoisseur).




Reply by duncan 906, Mar 11.

As it happens I have just finished a lovely bottle od cabernet sauvignon. It was a 56Hundred Cabernet Sauvignon from the Nederburg concern in South Africa. I thought it superb,plenty of fresh and intense fruit with a suggestion of spice,coffee or smoke on the finish and soft tannins.It was the perfect match for my roast chicken supper

Reply by zufrieden, Mar 11.

Nederberg is an old name in the Paarl Region so I am sure you would have a competently made wine whatever the price.  These wines - if you ante up a few bob - can be spectacular and be cheaper and better than comparably priced claret.  I will be seeking out more - provided the morons on Wall Street and other trading centres don't go completely nutter.

Reply by GregT, Mar 11.

Yeah those wines from S Africa have been improving by leaps and bounds over the years. Their Syrah can be really outstanding.

Just got home from a tasting of Napa wines. Mostly Cabs but a few Cab Francs, which I was particularly interested in. The people who get it right should get more recognition. The best ones had a bit of a vegetal quality on the nose, and even on the palate, but they kept some tannic backbone and weren't just vegetal and sweet, which is a horrid combination. I would love to do a comparative blind tasting of some of the wines you guys had. Good times!

DV - I know you guys went to Hendry. I've had a few of their wines but unfortunately didn't make it that time or since! Based on your review though, seems like the wines are worth looking into more deeply!

Reply by zufrieden, Mar 11.

Yep.  Hendry was one of the winners last month, GT.  Hopefully, Darren will get back to you soon, as he has  an opportunity to sample some old Bordeaux at my place.

Reply by dvogler, Mar 11.


There's some great Cab Franc in BC now.  I think it's actually one of the go-to grapes after merlot.

You really need to come up here to Victoria for a cheap stay and free wine!  I guess travel now is unlikely since the world is going crazy.

Hopefully by summer this virus will be played out.  

Oh, Hendry is best known for Zinfandel (and their cab sav is great.  They used to sell to Mondavi years ago).

Reply by zufrieden, Mar 11.

BTW, GT, you should just decide - once the "pandemic" subsides, of course - to come up.  One of us here will accommodate you comfortably, or at least suggest alternative accommodation.  You'd love it here.


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