Vintage Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 $5.99

Bottled by Vintage Ranch Cellars & produced exclusively for Wine Styles
ABV 13.8%
Purchased: Albany, OR 12-14-2014

Brief update: I’ve got about 3 more bottles of GO wine, and then I’ll be out…and quite honestly, if the quality doesn’t improve in the selections we are seeing around here, those sadly may be my last three reviews (unless something outstanding comes along to interrupt the dearth).

Does this set the tone for the Vintage Ranch Cabernet? Because it should. It’s listed at $18.99 SRP and I’m glad I didn’t pay that for it. Just today I just bought 6 bottles of a nice 2012 Toscana Rosso (that we very much enjoy) from Costco @ $10 a bottle. So when I’m spending $6-$13/a bottle at GO and my percentage of off/bad wines is running about 80% (pick one: corked, an overabundance of brett or an overabundance of the sulfides attempting to counteract the brett, or just plain poorly done wine) even a non-economics major can see the flaw in my retail logic.  [And yes, because I know someone will mention it, I could take them all back, but when you realize how many bottles I’d have to take back (just based on the wines purchased for reviews since the wine sale, it’d be more than a case) for me, that’s just a hassle that I don’t want to deal with on a regular basis. I also realize that is a personal choice I’ve made, and that GO does have a very good return policy if you don’t like the wine or if it’s off etc.]

So, I apologize for starting out with an editorial…but really, I think it’s a valid concern for any consumer (not just me) wanting to find the best ways to spend their hard-earned $. That’s what these reviews really are all about. There have been some lovely highlights at GO but the percentages (at least, locally) of anything of quality, have been very low of late (the outstanding Le Riche and Emigre excepting). Lim13 & BW have said to me several times that the wine tasting/reviews are supposed to be enjoyable, and they are so right.

FullSizeRenderUnfortunately, that’s again not the case with this wine. I expected it to be not really ready, being 2013 vintage…but usually you can get an idea of the quality of the wine, nonetheless, even if it is young. And with its SRP right at $19, I expected a moderate, if not exceptional Cabernet.

I knew from first pour that this one wasn’t going to make the cut. It’s listed as California Cabernet Sauvignon so it has to be (IIRC) at least 75% Cabernet. Until now, I have NEVER poured a Cabernet that I could clearly see through, like some of the lightest Pinot Noir. Not even that Side by Side Bravery Blend (whose body was also light but the taste was ok). I can read through this one. Strike one.

Nose: Rhubarb & cherry, mainly. (Rhubarb is not what I’d consider an acceptable Cabernet taste or fragrance. Strike two.)
Taste: Unripe black cherry, again with the rhubarb and a little bit of plum. However it’s the Glycerin that gets me. It’s almost like they tried to make up for unsubstantial Cabernet by adding some sort of odd thickener. Strike three.

This one would be returned as unsatisfactory on all counts.


16 thoughts on “Vintage Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 $5.99

  1. inthewinecountry

    Also its funny about your comment about brett and corked wine as I recently enjoyed a Duro from GO that had a musty cork flavor that in a way added something to the wine and wasn’t so over powering that I would call it a bad wine. but it had just too much so I would call it a flawed wine. I worked with a Davis grad student at Domaine Chandon who actually wanted to add some to his class project he was working on to see if it added to his wine. A fellow student, and worker warned him to not add too much!

  2. inthewinecountry

    permiesworld I think for the most part you can add AWD to CH as a good bet. I have talked to the owner and he originally started out as Australian Wines Direct. I trust his taste and judgement for the most part although last year he had a batch of 4 or 5 different French wines all with different labels but very similar capsules and one of the reviewers commented if it wasn’t for the different labels he would have sworn it was all the same wine, which thanks to the reviews I passed on as they were mediocre. BTY, I am guilty of not telling people about a wine if I find it a incredible buy at GO because a lot of times there is limited quantity.

    1. permiesworld Post author

      I really haven’t noticed that negociant before. Ever since BW’s recent reviews, I’ve been on the lookout though.

      I haven’t seen any Douro at all at our GO’s. I am such a fan that I’d have probably tried it regardless.

  3. Ashlander

    Unless I hear from many of the fine folks here, I tend to stick with wines from a particular AVA versus the generic California. I also raise an eye brow at a recent vintage like a 2013. My feeling is that if it’s such a recent vintage, there must be something sideways about it if it’s already at GO. That’s just my method. I’m sure others have their own technique to minimize the “mistakes”. In regards to that Panther Creek, I definitely would have tried if not for the information available here.

    I must admit that’s a nice looking label though.

    1. permiesworld Post author

      You’ll have to check out the 2013 Passages review from today, Ashlander. It’s a lovely Cabernet and so I expected it not to be. I believe we saw it in Eugene last time we were there.

      I agree though, for the most part, the young vintages could be looked at warily. I was tempted on these two because 2013 was a huge harvest in CA and I know that many of the good vineyards sold off their stock to 3rd parties…so I was hopeful. Definitely disappointed with this particular wine but the hope held true with the Passages Cab.

  4. Russ Winton

    Excellent review, I appreciate your sincere honesty. I’ve never returned off-wines to the GO, I’m not sure why…maybe I should.

    1. permiesworld Post author

      Thanks Russ, I don’t want to come off sounding curmudgeonly but it just gets frustrating at times.

      If I lived closer to the GO, it might not be so bad. On the other hand, they’d probably hate to see me coming if I actually returned all the wines that merited returning. Also, I remember when Costco changed their return policy because too many people were abusing it. I can imagine if I showed up with a case of “unacceptables” every 6 or so weeks, they might re-think their own policy. That’s not something I’d like to see either.

      On the other hand, I wish that it wasn’t such a crap-shoot to find a decent wine.

      The excellent ones are so far above typical grocery stores that it keeps a person going back “just to see”. Unfortunately I fall into the “well this one might be good” trap while I’m there…

      1. seedboy

        This is far from foolproof but I try to stick with wines made by actual wineries; this wine, for instance, appears to have been bought on the bulk wine market and packaged by Vintage Ranch Cellars and/or Wine Styles. I probably end up liking roughly half of the wines I buy and the store gladly gives me credit for the others, which i bring back.

        1. permiesworld Post author

          That is a really good suggestion. The ones I’ve liked (Omega, Mayerdale, even that Van Ruiten) have all been from actual vineyard/winery combos…as well as the ones I’ve really loved (and mentioned earlier). The only really awful one was that Panther Creek PN.

          Because I buy from Cameron Hughes a lot, I haven’t ever been concerned about 3rd party negociants but CH could be the exception. I love their Cabs and am rarely disappointed. But, I think I will try it your way (with GO wines) and see if my ratio improves any.

          1. Seedboy

            CH buys better juice and can sell it for more. If you see “American Canyon” or “Graton” or “Santa Rosa” on the label, and there is no website and you don’t recognize a name, buy with trepidation

        2. jwc

          PW, look at it like this, you are doing a public service in tasting these duds/swill and preventing innocent consumers from wasting their hard earned dollars on plonk! That’s why you, Lim13, along with BW make the big bucks! Kidding aside, for every 5 or 6 Vintage Ranch like dud wines, there is a Passages for example which makes the hunt fun for you, and ultimately rewarding for all. That is indeed a beneficial service to folks who read this blog and score wine from your R&D. So PW, Lim13 & BW, as well as all contributors to this site. Thanks.

      2. lim13

        You’re welcome to leave the “curmudgeonly” label for me, PW. I’m entirely comfortable with that title! : ~) And have done a great deal to earn it.

          1. lim13

            Merriam-Webster says a curmudgeon is “a person (especially an old man) who is easily annoyed or angered and who often complains.” Doesn’t say anything about not being able or willing to laugh. It’s a wise man who can do both! : ~) And to stay on track…I won’t be buying any Vintage Ranch CS if I ever see it. Grrrrrrrrrr!


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