Wine Talk

Snooth User: nltaber

Go-to special occasion California red?

Posted by nltaber, Sep 2, 2011.

Okay, what is everyone's special-occasion go-to California red? Getting ready to celebrate a 40th birthday and looking for a nice bottle around $100.

Thanks in advance! Anxious to explore all the suggestions!

 

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Replies

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Reply by JonDerry, Sep 2, 2011.

Always like this kind of topic...the top two are tried and two standards, while the others i've also recently had good experiences with lately. Good luck and happy drinking to you. 

Ridge - Montebello (Bordeaux Blend) is a gold standard for California.  But they are better with some age on them, so the current release 07' may be too young $100.00

Caymus Special Selection - 2008 (86% Cab, 14% Merlot).  This can be had for around $100 and drinks really well.

O'Shaughnessy Howell Mountain - 2006. Little bit more difficult to track down, but this is one of my favorite CA Cabs at the price point.

Cakebread Cabernet Sauvignon - 2007.  Had this a few weeks ago and was really impressed...was more Bordeaux like than most CA cabs, and for $60

 

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Reply by dmcker, Sep 2, 2011.

You could also look at Phelps Insignia and Dominus as similar 'standards' out of Napa. Specific vintages, of course, can greatly affect price for these and others. For example, something like a '97 would be great for both of these, though a little past your budget. Other years like '98 or even 2000 would be less. If you do just a little shopping around more recent vintages will be less yet. Considering the occasion, though, and the experience I think you're looking for, I'd go for good wines with some bottle age as opposed to recent releases. A '97 Mayacamas might be reaching its stride about now, and it would be just north of $100. That would actually me my first choice of all I and Jon have suggested, but that's my palate.

Can't think of any wine from CA where chasing down a 1971 within the budget would be worth the effort.

Back to more recent vintages, many other suggestions are possible. What kinds of wine do you ordinarily like to drink, and what memories can you share of the best/favorite wines you've drunk to now? These can help narrow down the options. For example, if you like aged Zinfandel or pinot noir, we probably want to skip over to Sonoma rather than focusing so much on Napa....

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Reply by JonDerry, Sep 3, 2011.

97' Mayacamus sounds like a good rec, I still haven't tried the producer. 

Hard not to assume Cabernet Sauvignon, or blends for this question. 

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Reply by dmcker, Sep 3, 2011.

Really would like to hear back from Nitaber about his tastes. I can easily think of a dozen or two very good options from Napa, and twice that many from other regions north or south of SanFran Bay....

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Reply by nltaber, Sep 3, 2011.

Thanks for the suggestions so far - much appreciated. We generally enjoy Zin and Pinot Noir but as mentioned previously, for this price point, we're looking for an interesting Cab or blend. Generally not interested in Merlot and prefer finding great wines from smaller boutique wineries vs. the big guys. Thanks.

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Reply by ScottLauraH, Sep 4, 2011.

I would suggest Orin Swift Cellar's Papillon.  It's mostly Cabernet Sauvignon, with a small percentage of Petit Verdot and Merlot.  This is my personal favorite red wine right now. 

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Reply by dmcker, Sep 4, 2011.
Edited Sep 4, 2011

There are very good pinot noir options now out of Sonoma, and zin has always been good if you know where to look. Ridge's Lytton Springs isn't shabby but there are others, as well. Syrah is also good from a few makers in Napa and Sonoma. None of the ones I'm talking about are like usual supermarket offerings of these varietals.

Why not go for two bottles? One cab and one something else? Will be back with some more suggestions on the cabs, but one final question is if you like the big fruitforward wines, or something more refined, heading to some extent in the European direction. If you can mention the names of some wines you've liked in the past, this could also be helpful....

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Reply by EMark, Sep 5, 2011.

Hey, nltaber, there are some great suggestions in the postings, above.  You're only going to turn 40 once.    Why don't you pick one of the above recommendations along with one of your current favorites and try them side by side.  Then come back here and tell us your findings. 

For my 2 cents worth, two of my Napa cabernet favorites are Hartwell and Chapellet.  Both of them have offerings in the $50 (Hartwell Miste Hill and Chappellet Signature) range and the $100 range (Hartwell Estate Reserve and Chappellet Pritchard Hills). 

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Reply by JonDerry, Sep 5, 2011.

Sounds good, Nltaber, the preference for boutique wineries over mass-produced is a good one.  Bigger names like Silver Oak are also often among the most disappointing at the price point.

For Cabs and Bordeaux blends, i'd definitely recommend Ridge Monte Bello and O'Shaughnessy from above, and add Larkmead 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Firebelle, or LMV Salon if you can find them.  The Larkmead 08's are all very good, and well balanced.  There's also a bit of tartness to the fruit that really sets it apart, and of course that Calistoga (North Napa) minerality is great.

Pahlmeyer Proprietary Red may be a little over $100, but also one of the best CA Bordeaux Blends. Dunn Vineyards Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, also excellent. 

If you like fruit flavor to outweigh the acidity, and soil flavors in the balance, check out Anderson's Conn Valley Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.  Should be available for $80 or so.  The 2007 I tried a few months ago was stunning.

For Pinot Noir, I haven't really found much from CA to really write home about, though I recently had a 2004 Hitching Post Fiddlestix for $60 that was a real charmer.

Ridge Lytton Springs for Zinfandel is definitely a standard setter, and would be interested in what anyone thinks is a cut or two above this.

I'm sure there are others more qualified on CA syrah, but i've always enjoyed Shafer Relentless...my favorite is the 2004, which should be about peaking now, also with some petite syrah in the blend.

Around the $50 level, would concur with the Chappellet Signature, and add Ridge Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (liked the 08), and encourage you to give Merlot another shot by trying a Shafer Merlot. 07 or 08 are very nice, and usually have around 15% Cabernet Sauvignon mixed in.

FWIW, i'd recommend avoiding Orin Swift wines. 

 

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Reply by dmcker, Sep 6, 2011.

Jon, just staying within Ridge, I generally prefer Geyserville to Lytton, year after year. More refined in certain ways, and tends to be longer-lived....

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Reply by JonDerry, Sep 6, 2011.

Thanks Dm, think Geyserville is the next logical Zin for me to try.  Always good to be within the Ridge.

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Reply by dmcker, Sep 6, 2011.

You can confirm with outthere, NapaGirl and Foxall, but they all seem to like Mauritson's offerings. Hard to get over here in Tokyo. Perhaps The next step after....

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Reply by outthere, Sep 6, 2011.

For a more refined Zin experience you cannot beat Scherrer Old and Mature Vine. Try to find an '07. Just something special.

Cali Bordeaux Blend? Try the 2006 Agharta Exhibit B. Wowsers!

I've been impressed by Ghost Horse Shadow at a cool 100 bones. Plus the bottle is neat as well.

Mike Smith of Myriad makes phenomenal cabs as well.

 

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Reply by JonDerry, Sep 6, 2011.

Thanks Outthere, will have to give the Scherrer Old & Mature Vine a try as well.  Agharta and Ghost Horse sound interesting as well, though not a whole lot of availability it seems.

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Reply by outthere, Sep 6, 2011.

True dat. GH is available from the winery or Napa Valley Wine & Cigar Call or email 

Agharta is available from the winery only except for secondary market. Worth a try though.

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Reply by nltaber, Sep 7, 2011.

Okay, my hubs vetted out all of your suggetions and has chosen the '07 Ridge Montebello. I really appreciate all of the suggestions and we'll certainly be tasting some of the other suggestions. We'll post a review of the Montebello. Thanks again!

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Reply by JonDerry, Sep 8, 2011.

Very good stuff, though will probably be a little closed upon opening.  Definitely give it a good decant if you can (2+ hours recommended).

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Reply by dmcker, Sep 8, 2011.

I'd let it stay open for more like three or four hours before pouring. Looking forward to your notes on your experience, but most of all enjoy!

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Reply by EMark, Sep 8, 2011.

Excellent selection.  Happy Birthday.

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Reply by thecrushedviolet, Sep 8, 2011.

I'm a novice, but I always keep Cakebread onhand, and agree with the first post. That specific Cakebread is a favorite of mine.

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