Calle Brandsen 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon Gran Reserve

Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina; 13.8% ABV
$6 at the Berkeley, CA, store on 24 Dec.  Not much left today.  Plenty at Richmond, CA.

CalleBrandsen_2008_CabSGranResI decanted this wine off a decent amount of sediment, a job made more difficult by the cast (a precipitate that adheres to the side of the bottle) in the shoulder.  It’s immediately evident that it’s pretty substantial wine, but I thought it needed 1.5 – 2 hours in the decanter to start showing its stuff.

The wine tastes of rich, dark fruit of blackberry / mulberry, cherry, and red plum, and tangy earth.  It has a rather tannic finish that does not bite so much as slowly and firmly clamp down, so it might be better with food.  The main thing about this wine is that, although the fruit is ripe, it’s not at all jammy in the California way.  Instead, it’s very dry, earthy, and tannic.  I would guess that Expat will like it a lot.  Although it’s good now, I believe it will hold on well, and likely develop further, with a few more years in cool storage.

Update 12 March:  Soon after this review, I bought a couple more bottles and i opened one of them tonight.  I cancel my suggestion that this wine will likely improve with age.  The bottle tonight needed 2+ hours of air in a decanter, but it seemed farther along in its evolution, with no need for more age.  Still quite delicious.

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35 thoughts on “Calle Brandsen 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon Gran Reserve

  1. BargainWhine Post author

    I opened my third and last bottle of this wine this evening. At first, it seemed a bit too old and acid, but after 2.5 hours in a decanter, it’s still very good.

    Reply
      1. BargainWhine Post author

        Nonetheless, the saved single-glass screw-cap bottle I opened tonight was really good, softly rich and fruity, still with the earth and tannin.

        Reply
  2. Darrell

    ” BTW, could there be a difference in standards between Brandsen Reserve and Gran Reserve?” plus the regular bottling sounds like a possibility here. Only BW, Expat and Delmartian have tried the Grand Reserve bottling and if it’s a different vineyard selection or cuvee, there could be a vast difference. I don’t think the varying aging regimen accounts for the disparity among the different bottlings unless different proportions of new to used barrels are employed. I am still on the lookout for the 2008 Grand Reserve.

    Reply
    1. jwc

      I had the last couple of glasses tonight of the ’09 Brandsen Reserve Cab Sav tonight, it had opened up slightly. This is a nice cab, likely a $15-$17 retail wine. Nothing special or memorable, 85-86 Pts. The Gran Reserva must be the wineries premium offering, this surely isn’t a flagship effort.

      Reply
  3. permiesworld

    I picked up the Calle Brandsen 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve today in Corvallis (they didn’t have the 2008 Gran reserve). It is so close to Bargainwhine’s description of the 2008, that I decided not to write a review.

    It is VERY good. Reminds me of 2/3rds of the Le Riche Cab I like so much…by that I mean the dryness, earthiness, balanced fruit etc but without the leather/savory bits. It’s really nice. No green pepper (which I totally expected from a south American cab)…both of us liked it so much that we regretted not picked up another few bottles. Apparently the 2009 won an award in the “Argentina Wine awards” in 2011.

    Great price for a nuanced Cabernet. So I highly recommend the 2009 and will be looking for the 2008.

    Reply
    1. permiesworld

      We found some more of this at the Salem store, yesterday. They also had the non-reserve 2009 on their shelves. No 2008.

      I’m hoping for no bottle variation. I just bought a few bottles of the reserve. It was really good for the price.

      Reply
      1. BargainWhine Post author

        I went to the Oakland store yesterday. The had in a number of new offerings, including some small lots of bottles that were in mixed cases. One of those was about 8 to 12 bottles of the 2009 Calle Brandsen Cab, regular bottling.

        Reply
        1. permiesworld

          There doesn’t seem to be bottle variation from the two different stores we’ve purchased the 2009 reserve from. That is promising. We just opened one from the Salem store and it tastes like the one from Corvallis.

          Reply
        2. lim13

          My wife and I had a bottle of the 2009 regular bottling ($6.99 at the Silverdale GO) tonight and we both enjoyed it. Wish the 2008 or 2009 Reserve had showed up here so we could try them side-by-side in comparison, but no such luck. I can definitely see similarities in this and the 2008 Gran Reserve that BW reviewed. And because of all the banter here about all the different bottlings, I’m just going to post my notes here: “Clear deep ruby color; strong, pleasant vanillin tones in the nose that slowly dissapate;nice red fruit aromas (cherry and raspberry) linger; in the mouth, there’s more cherry, raspberry and vanillin flavors along with red plum and tobacco; medium body with soft tannins and just about the right level of tart acidity; tobacco and the tannins assert themselves a bit more in the finish. Very tasty.” BTW, the back label says, “…aromas of red fruits, plums and ripe figs. Vanilla and chocolate notes are also present.” I couldn’t agree more.

          Reply
          1. permiesworld

            I’m still seeing the 2009 reserve (I was in Corvallis yesterday, not sure about Salem’s supply). I’m surprised it’s still on the shelf. Compared with the other local offerings, it’s pretty much the best wine in the store.

            Reply
          2. lim13

            No 2008 Reserve, but I found a bottle of the 2009 Reserve in Seattle/Lake City today for $8.99 (Kenmore had it too). So I’ll soon have it alongside the rest of our bottle of 2009 Estate and report back. BTW, could there be a difference in standards between Brandsen Reserve and Gran Reserve?

            Reply
            1. permiesworld

              I’m sure there is some (I’m researching online now) But to be honest, the Gran Reserve would have to be outstanding to show much better.

              I went to their website. Only the Malbec is on the website. The difference between the reserve Malbec and the Gran Reserve is 4 months longer in the barrel. They list everything else the same. (8 months for the Reserve and 12 for the Gran). I’m guessing their method was similar with the Cab.

              And to Expat, very glad you found some and enjoyed it. It always makes me happy when (instead of warning people not to buy something) this blog actually well pairs a person/wine.

            2. lim13

              My wife and I just tasted the 2009 Brandsen Estate and Reserve side-by-side. The Estate was opened three days ago and has started to show brick tones around the rim and slight caramel flavors (from oxidation). However, in terms of base flavors (mainly red fruit), acidity, tannins and structure, I really don’t find that much difference between the two. So if I were to buy more (which I am not going to do), for two bucks less I’d buy the Estate rather than the Reserve. Both are very tasty, well-balanced wines.

            3. jwc

              Just came from a tasting of Napa and Walla Walla cabs, which was fantastic. Had a nice buffalo filet mignon that I grilled along with a baked potato, and chose to open the ’09 Reserve. This is a decent, balanced wine, but certainly no where near an upper echelon cabernet sauvignon. Frankly, I’m dissapointed, considering some of the comments on this wine, I was hoping for more from this effort. Tasted an ’08 Santa Rita Medalla Reserva Cab Sab, at this event, which wasn’t even close to being best of show, and the Santa Rita Medalla was a far better wine than the Brandsen.

          3. permiesworld

            Hey JWC. Sorry you didn’t enjoy it. I don’t know that anyone is saying it’s a wine to go down in the annals of awesome lol. Personally, I think it’s very good for GO standards. Especially given what we’ve been seeing locally over the last year or so. It probably ranks in the top 5 (drinkability vs. price)…and at $6.99 for the Reserve, it’s a most excellent buy. I guess that’s where I see it.

            Reply
            1. jwc

              I did drink a couple glasses, it is certainly quaffable, balanced with not a lot of complexity or depth. Nice structure, perhaps tonight it will have evolved into something better.After attending the tasting of some serious cabs, the Brandsen just wasn’t in the same ballpark, yet alone league, so my comparison against those wasn’t really fair. Although the mention of the Santa Rita Medalla is, as this wine can be found in the $10-$20 retail range here in Portland and I believe the Brandsen retailed for somewhere in this range prior to GO getting it. I did find the ’08 Oveja Negra Cab Sav & The Lost Barrel blend, to be more complex, full bodied and flavorful than the Brandsen as well as a better value. (at $5 as far as recent GO South American reds go.) As BW says, if you like it, it’s good wine, so perhaps I set my expectations up a tad high on the Brandsen. Honestly haven’t had a home run since the Le Riche Cab Sav Reserve & the Neyers Napa Valley chardonnay last year, although there have been a number of nice wines at good price points. Hopefully more to come, cheers!

            2. BargainWhine Post author

              Hi JWC. I didn’t see either of your recent “home runs” down here. They do sound like excellent finds. I actually thought this Brandsen GR Cab was one of the better GO values I’ve seen of late. I certainly would not have said about it, “not a lot of complexity or depth.” I think it has excellent structure and fruit and will improve a good bit with age. I’ve even wondered if I should have been more enthusiastic about it in my review. Maybe the GR is distinctly better the Reserve or Estate, but…

            3. Expat

              P-Dub sums up my take on this very well. It’s a bit of an apples and oranges with what jwc is tasting because I had the 08 Gran Reserve and I think he had the 09 not-so-gran Reserve. Also, I wouldn’t put it up against elite wines but I was excited about the style (dry, structure), the overall flavors and the price point. Like so many things and all reviews/comments on this site, context is important.

    2. Ashlander

      Thanks for the tip. My wife and both like the 09 reserve and have gone back for more. Typically we are not big cab drinkers. Little too much oak for my wife’s tastes.

      Reply
  4. jwc

    Saw the Reserve here for $7, there was also a regular Cab Sav bottling for $6 if I remember right. Reserve seemed like a better wine for only $1 more.

    Reply
  5. Expat

    As I was reading the review I thought, “I would guess that I will like it a lot”. Then I read, “I would guess that Expat will like it a lot.” and laughed. You are a clairvoyant, sir. I’m just hoping they bring it to either Atascadero or Santa Maria.

    Reply
    1. BargainWhine Post author

      Hi Expat. That’s why I’m here! 🙂 I hope you will be able to find this wine and let us know what you thought about it. I opened my saved single-glass screwcap bottle of this last night, and it was delicious! It was more open and aromatic, still with very solid fruit, without any more air time.

      Reply
      1. Expat

        I put this blog to a true test tonight. I first read BargainWhine’s review of this wine and was really psyched to try it. They never got it at the Santa Maria or San Luis Obispo GOs and I never made it north to Atascadero. It seemed like everyday there was a reply to the review singing its praises and it was killing me. Finally I called the Atascadero store and Mike was nice enough to let me know they had some left. My delivery guy was heading up that way so I had him buy 8 bottles, tongue untasted, based on BargainWhine calling this out as something I would like and the other comments. Sorry to put so much pressure on you BW.

        I popped and poured through an aerator (placebo?) and took a sip right away. BW, P-dub, other commmenters and this blog: I salute you. This is EXACTLY the kind of wine I prefer and it was so accurately described by everyone. I”m so glad I used the force and trusted the blog. It really is a testimony to how well this forum describes wines. Editorial reviews, individuals and wine labels are dwarfed in effectiveness compared to Grossoutwine.

        I probably don’t need to say much about this wine but I got that violety aroma and taste I get out of South American wines that I really appreciate. I get black fruit, some cherry, some oak. clamp down tannins (brilliant terminology BW) too, all with a foundation of earthy dryness that I love.

        Thanks everyone. I’m toasting you as I type.

        Reply
          1. Patrick

            I got a bottle of the 08 Gran Reserve last week at the Gilroy store, needed air, really liked it after aerating it, 8:01 the next morning grabbed 18 bottles left one likely for the guy in the BMW racing in with an empty box!

            Reply
    1. BargainWhine Post author

      Hi Darrell. There was a good amount of it at the Richmond store this morning. I got a couple more bottles.

      Reply
    2. Delmartian1

      Picked up a bottle at the San Marcos (north SD County) yesterday afternoon. Will be back to get a few more as this wine will pair brilliantly with Argentinian churrasco.

      Reply
      1. flitcraft

        I haven’t seen the 2008 Gran Reserve in the Seattle area, but the 2009 Reserve is at Lake City for 9 dollars and at Kenmore for 7, the same price that they have the non-reserve Estate 2009. (Yeah, gotta love that dynamic pricing…) Kenmore also has the 2010 Reserve Malbec at the same price. I picked up a couple and will report back later…

        Reply
        1. flitcraft

          We tried the 2009 Reserve CS and the 2010 Reserve Malbec side by side last night. The cabernet is as has been described here–almost an Old World rather than New World approach to a cabernet. Very nice indeed, and I do think it will age. The Malbec was also tasty. A bit more fruit forward than the cabernet, with plum and blackberry being the predominant flavors I got. Not as brawny as a lot of Argentinian Malbecs (I think of Malbec as South America’s zinfandel…) but a bit more finesse than I was expecting. Both wines are restrained as to alcohol–the cab comes in at 13% even, and as I recall the Malbec is similar (the bottle ended up in recycling last night and I don’t feel like fishing it out.) Our guests preferred the Malbec–that bottle got finished–and I preferred the cab (there’s a glass left that I’ll use to celebrate finishing a work project later today!) Both went well with lamb shanks braised in mushroom sauce.

          Reply

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