Pope Valley 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Eakle Ranch ($15)

Napa, CA; 139% ABV
Purchased 5/9/2013 at the Oakland, CA store

Pope Valley 2009 Cabernet SauvignonGood pedigree, disappointing wine. Dark, leggy, some purple foam; pretty closed nose but foreboding good things – deep black currant and blackberry fruit and leaf, briar, cigar box – seems like a young but promising Cabernet. The palate also promises great flavor depth and composition- high extract, ripe acidity, intense fruit – BUT the tannins are so high, harsh, and astringent as to make this wine nearly undrinkable. Vigorous aeration and time didn’t help much. The tannins seem ripe, but just way too young (and perhaps too much to ever mellow sufficiently). There’s potential here for a very good or better wine, but you’ll have to decide if you want to gamble on laying it down for years to find out. I gotta give it a Thumbs Down for now.

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24 thoughts on “Pope Valley 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Eakle Ranch ($15)

  1. Lady Sipsalot

    We LOVED the 2009 Pope Valley Cab (Eakle Ranch) – I can’t find it anywhere anymore 😦 IF anyone finds it – please let me know.

    Reply
  2. Rick Stich

    OK I actually just opened a bottle of the 2008 and it is excellent. It has has the correct balance of fruit, tannins, and acidity. Food frinedly and enjoyable all by itself. Slightly lower ABV thean the 2009.

    Reply
    1. Bobbyroy

      At GO last night in Hayward they had 2010 Homestead 1897 Cab for $10. Searched the phone number on the back label and discovered its the same number for Pope Valley Winery. Wine was well rounded and balanced. I am going back for another case to put away for later.

      Reply
  3. quercusagrifolia

    I was attracted by the “$40 elsewhere” claim. Got it for $10. Loved it. This is not necessarily an easy-to-drink wine. Yes, tannic. But very complex, savory, earthy. Opens with air. I prefer old-world wines. Can rarely find a CA wine I like for under $40 — hence my curiosity about this one. As mentioned in some previous posts, this is for those who prefer old-world wines. Plus, sometimes I like a wine that is a bit challenging. But I think I maybe just got the last two bottles at my Gross-Out location.

    Reply
  4. TheConnasewer

    I was curious about this wine never having heard of Pope Valley. The winery website is full of praise about the vineyards and care in producing wine. Small operation doing 5K plus cases. But why is the wine showing up at G.O.? Did Pope Valley dump it because it’s not as good as expected? The disagreements about this wine are cause for concern. Bottle variation at work? One review calls it “undrinkable”, a very harsh criticism. It all depends on the extent of tannin and whether decanting might soften it? I don’t know since I’m hesitant to plunk down cash on it until I see more reviews. As far as G.O. wines, have other people noticed the decline in better wine showing up in bay area stores? Where is all the New Zealand pinot noir and sauvignon blanc that used to sit on the shelves? Is the era of bankrupt, sold wineries over with fewer to no wines showing up in G.O.? Things have changed over the past few years. Comments?

    Reply
    1. seedboy

      I am seeing fewer examples of bargains on wines made by real wineries (as opposed to negociants, such as that Adler Fels operation in Santa Rosa that pumps so much wine into GO, or Bronco or its ilk). One theory is that we benefitted from a period of wine glut that has come to an end. Another theory is that the GO wine buying is getting lazy and it is just so much easier to just order more crap from Bronco than it is to seek out real wines from real wineries. Another is that as the GO operation grows, smaller lots they once happily bought are less appealing to them (this happened to Trader Joe’s, too; back in the 1980s they consistently had really great deals on liquidations, now they just stock grocery store labels and their own label stuff).

      Reply
        1. seedboy

          That said, there continue to be some good deals. Most recently, at least some of the River whatever wines from Lodi are good (old vine zin, mourvedre), and nicely priced. Just not as much good stuff as there used to be.

          Reply
          1. BargainWhine

            River Bluff, I think. Sorry I haven’t said anything about them, but I had too many bad wines from Lodi recently.

            Reply
            1. Seedboy

              You are right. The Charbono is a woody mess. There have been a couple of petite sirah, have not tried them. Those and the mourvedre were at Berkeley today

            2. Expat

              Just had the Mourvedre with pizza – good combo. It was soft and fruity and very pleasant. I like dry and earthy but I appreciate this style too. It worked well with the acidity of the tomato in the pizza. It wasn’t cloying and jammy and I especially appreciated the low alcohol (13.1%). I didn’t note the specific components – almost a red fruit/black fruit hybrid with a little herbaceousness. This is a nice example of a fruit forward wine with finesse and a restrained hand.

      1. Patrick

        If one googles bulk wine services or private label services and look for categories like portfolio you can get an idea of the validity of Seedboys comments!

        Reply
  5. Expat

    Ok, i bought a bottle to satisfy my curiosity. Dluber, not sure what the deal is with the bottle you tasted. It doesn’t sound like it was corked so maybe we have completely different palates. I thought this wine was absolutely terrific. Balanced, nuanced and wonderful structure. The tannins were firm, assertive and even drying but not astringent and punishing. They kept the fruit in check and worked wonderfully with food. It opened beautifully with a little air time, when the subtle, dried fruit elements became more prominent. I had it with an oak grilled prime grade top sirloin, yukon gold potatoes with bacon fat sauteed ramps and broccoli cheddar au gratin. I probably had a full glass before dinner and loved it on its own, but what a food wine! I cannot understand how you found it undrinkable, especially since I tend to track pretty closely with your tastes. I found it to be one of the most elegant wines from Gross Out I’ve had in awhile. To be clear, I strongly prefer restrained, Old World style wines. This wine will probably not appeal to those who like viscous, syrupy, big fruit wines.

    Reply
    1. dluber Post author

      I’m glad you and poursomemore both liked it, and now I might be willing to try another bottle. For me, like I said, I found a potentially great wine buried under an avalanche of tannin. Assuming this is an artisanal product bottled essentially by hand one barrel at a time, it’s probable that we have true bottle variation here (as opposed to lot variation as I’ve expounded on before), then it’s possible that what I got was literally just the bottom of the barrel.

      Reply
      1. Expat

        I re-read my original post and I sounded like a bit of wiener – my apologies. I realize it’s easy for me to encourage you to blow another sawbuck and a half but my experience was quite different from yours and I have always appreciated and agreed with your reviews. I have another one I’ll pop and pour and post (aka PPP, just made that up). Who knows, maybe this one is erratic and is why it’s at GO. BTW, didn’t care too much for the Merlot from Pope Valley. Rough edges.

        Reply
      2. Expat

        Just discovered at the Atascadero GO that not only has this wine dropped from $15 to $10 (Merlot down to $8) but they have 2009 and 2008. Now I’m wondering if the first bottle I had was 2008, explaining our different reactions. I have a bottle of 2009 and bought several 2008s today. I’ll report back (hopefully the 2008 is as good or better than 09)

        Reply
        1. Expat

          Tried the 2008 and 2009 blind tonight with the wife and a friend. The 08 was very dry with firm tannins. If I didn’t know it was a Napa cab I would have guessed it was a French wine. The 09 poured out more inky with fuller fruit (dried fruit, not ripe) but still with solid tannins. Both impressive, sophisticated, structured wines. 09 was more extracted and richer, easier to drink on its own. 08 was for Old World fans – lean for a California wine, dry, tannic and lower alcohol (admittedly at 13.4% only half a percent lower than the 09). I give both a thumbs up but know what you’re getting into. These are not soft wines – they have serious backbone. I suspect some cellaring time will make both vintages more elegant. WIth a gun to my head I prefer the 08, just because I love a firm and dry wine, but the 09 was terrific too.

          Reply
  6. Expat

    I was intrigued by this bottle (and the Pope merlot) but I’m hearing conflicting opinions, both here and at my local store. Grippy tannins don’t bother me but “undrinkable” is a problem. I like dry wines with a sturdy backbone and think fruit bombs are for pan sauces. Anyone else care to weigh in or elaborate on this wine who’s tried it?

    Reply
  7. poursomemore

    The 2009 Pope Valley Cab (Eakle Ranch) was quite good. Yes, tannic to a certain extent, but very reminiscent of the 80’s and early 90’s wines from Simi, FieldStone and few other Alexander valley wineries that drew from a specific vineyard called Hoot Owl Creek. I’m not sure of the root stock, but the soil was a driver for the characteristics in those wines. I sense the same in the Pope Valley. A little chewy upon first opening, but a nice flavor none-the-less that is a throw-back to delicious wines out of Alexander Valley made with younger grapes (< 10 – 12 yrs old) from Hoot Owl. ..albeit this winery is from Napa Valley driven soil. By the way, the nose was shy at first but opened up nicely on the patio with a breeze.

    Reply

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