Category Archives: Cabernet Sauvignon

Auburn James 2008 Meritage

59% Merlot, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petite Verdot; 15.4% ABV
Napa Valley, CA
$10 at the Richmond, CA, store on 7 June

A number of Auburn James wines arrived together, most $10 and one $15, somewhat expensive for the GO.  I thought this looked like one of the most promising.

Immediately after being decanted, the wine showed fairly simple, very ripe, red cherry fruit.  After about an hour, the wine started to open up, and after 90 minutes, nice darker complexities had developed: blackberry, blackcurrant, medium  purple cherry, dark chocolate / prune, finishing with some balancing flavor and tannin of sappy / stemmy / roasted wood.  However, this wine is way too soft, unstructured and sweet for my taste.  It’s not dessert wine-level sweet, but even when drinking this with fresh red cherries (delightfully in season now), this wine tastes sweet.  It’s a pity, because otherwise the wine tastes pretty good.

A couple days later, the saved 275ml screwcap bottle was worse.  The complexity was largely gone, and it was just sweet red fruit with a roughly woody finish.  As you probably gather, I didn’t like this wine very much.  If you’re looking for a sweet red wine with a lot more complexity than most such wines, this could be a good choice, but for me at this price, it was a Thumbs Down.

Saint Andre de Figuiere 2015 Magali “The Signature” Rose

30% Syrah, 30% Cabernet, 25% Grenache, 15% Cinsault; 13.5% ABV
Cotes du Provence, southern France
imported by Paul M. Young Fine Wines
$5 at the Richmond, CA, store. No longer there.

This wine was highly praised here and by GLPease in person, so I got one.  It is indeed lovely and delicious.  The wine is smooth, soft, delicate, but full of flavor: cantaloupe, pink grapefruit, a little yellow apple, and red berries.  The textured minerality is almost creamy.

I wasn’t able to try it the next day.  On the third day, the magical delicate flavor and texture was gone, it was still pretty tasty.

Chateau Bellevue 2015 Bergerac

Merlot 30%, Cabernet Sauvignon 30%, Cabernet Franc 30%, Malbec 10%; 13% ABV
$7 at the Richmond, CA, store during the last sale.  Still there.

This wine is promising and tasty enough at first pour, but starts to really come around after being decanted 2:15.  I thought it fully aired after 3 hours, but tasty along the way.  It’s bit light, but nicely blended and complex, with flavors spanning the full usual range of Bordeaux, plus a little more thanks to the Malbec: earthy / woody red cherry / ripe redcurrant, cassis / almost blueberry, boysenberry / blackberry / hint of violets, gently drying tannic finish.  Thoroughly enjoyable for the price.

The saved, single-glass, screw-cap bottle was more accessible, tasty from the start and following a similar evolution of darkening fruit.

Chateau Haut Pougnan 2014 Bordeaux

Bordeaux AOC, France
imported by Aquitane Wine USA, LLC
80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon; 12.5% ABV
$10 at the Richmond, CA, store on around 24 Feb

I believe I bought this after a couple customers recommended it.  I thought it was good but not especially remarkable.

I decanted the wine and left it alone for a couple hours.  The fruit became more accessible, showing earthy red cherry / redcurrant, darkening over time to include a little blackcurrant / blackberry.  It struck me as tasty Bordeaux, but nothing exceptional.

A number of days later, the saved, single-glass, screw-cap bottle showed its fruit a little more soft and sweet, and was much more immediately pleasant, but was otherwise much the same.

The gold-colored sticker says “Concours des Grands Vins de France a Macon, Medaille D’Or, 2015.”

Pull 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon

Paso Robles, CA; ABV probably about 14.5% (recycled before I wrote it down)
$6 at the Richmond, CA, store on 23 Feb

pull_2010_cabsThis wine shows typical Paso Robles ripe fruit of dark purple / red cherry, grape, and blackberry, slightly herbal / earthy, balanced by strongish acid of blackberry / raspberry, with a slight tinge of spoiledness / not quite vinegar that makes me think this is past its prime.  It’s reasonably Drinkable, but drink it up ASAP.

The saved, single-glass, screw-cap bottle reinforces this conclusion.  It’s much redder and a bit more lean than on the first night, although still softly fruity, and tasting of an unusual herbaceous flavor which strikes me as cilantro.  So, I guess this wine is okay, maybe even good, if it’s consumed in one night, but I wouldn’t get it to consume over more than one night.

Château de Bensse 2012 Médoc

Cru Bourgeois from the Médoc, Bordeaux, France
50% Cabernet (presumably Sauvignon), 50% Merlot; 13.5% ABV
$12 at the Richmond, CA, store on 17 Feb

chdebensse_2012_medocThis wine had intrigued me for a few reasons — it was designated from a specific region of Bordeaux, the Médoc, not just from Bordeaux; it was imported by Max Beverage, whose previous Bordeaux I’ve tasted have been quite good; and two customers, including a Frenchman, had recommended it — but I had been deterred by the high (by GO standards) price until yesterday.

I thought it was pretty good after being decanted for about an hour, showing elegant purplish dark red cherry fruit with subtle complexity of plum, in a structure that was tight but not punishing.  It continued to improve the next couple hours, darkening and becoming only slightly more accessible.  Around three hours after opening, some of the darker purple fruit did seem to soften up a little, but along with the structure breaking some, not just relaxing.  So far, I liked it, but I wasn’t impressed it was worth $12 at the GO.  I wanted to soften it up a bit more, so instead of storing the rest in a completely filled small bottle as usual, I just put the cork back in the top.

Expat reviewed, and very much liked, the 2011 Ch. de Bensse here.  (His taste tends toward the very dry, earthy, and tannic.)  Wine Advocate rates 2011 Left Bank (which includes Médoc) as 88, and 2012 as 87, not much different.

On the second and third days, the wine was about the same as on the first two days, never really opening up very much.  I suspect I would prefer this with a few more years of age, but some may enjoy it now with a bit of air.

2011 Hearthstone Estate “Paso Superiore”

Paso Robles (Adelaida), CA; 14.8% AVB
Received as a sample for review from Palo Alto on December 27th.

pasosup_origI had the good fortune to be doing some shopping at the Palo Alto store when the Hearthstone Estate wines arrived, and Joe passed me this one as well as the Lodestone (Rhone blend) for review.  A quick online search shows this is still a functioning winery and that likely these were older wines that just needed to be moved. What I found particularly intriguing though is the winery’s location. Paso Robles is, I believe, one of the largest AVA’s in California and pretty diverse in the quality of the growing regions within it. This winery is located in the Adelaida AVA, right next to the Templeton Gap, where most of Paso’s heavy hitters are located, and is very close to both Linne Calodo and Saxum. This wine is a Super-Tuscan blend of 66% Sangiovese, 17% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 17% Cabernet Franc.

This wine showed well from first pour, but really hit its stride after about 2 hours in the glass.  On the nose I got wild cherry (darkening to black cherry as time passed), some vanilla oak, and a touch of herbal notes, perhaps from the Cab Franc. A medium bodied wine, there were notes of ripe cherry, red currant, some cedar and sweet tannins that took over an hour to really emerge and some really fresh acidity. This wine was great with food, and actually reminds me of the Sweetwater Sustainable Land Co. Chalk Hill Sangiovese that was floating around a year or so ago (that was fantastic by the way), just a bit darker and more complex.

On day two the Cabs started to emerge more with some darker fruit notes as well as a pleasant herbaceousness. Like BW, I was surprised by the subtlety of this wine. I’m used to Paso wines being more on the full-throttle end of the spectrum. Two thumbs up for me!

El Supremo 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon

Mendoza, Argentina; 13.4% ABV
$4 at the Richmond, CA, store on 28 Dec

elsupremo_2015_cabernetI thought the label of this wine had some character to it, and that the color of the wine through the bottle looked nicely dark.  When I poured it, the color of the wine was indeed quite pretty.  However, on tasting, the wine had this weird organic chemical flavor that was very off-putting.  I’m not sure what the wine fault is, but to me it tasted sort of like over-ripe or slightly spoiled fruit.  It was otherwise a pretty good wine for the price, but I’ll have to say Thumbs Down.

Chateau Grand Marchand 2012 Bordeaux

Bordeaux, France; 13% ABV
$7 at the Richmond, CA, store on 24 Oct

chgrandmarchand_2012_bordeauxI thought this wine looked promising because it’s a few years old now, older than most Bordeaux we get, and the “88 points” sticker from the Wine Enthusiast.  (I’ve liked their online tasting notes.)  Indeed, I think this is pretty good for the price.

I thought the wine needed 1:40 of air in a decanter to relax and show its fruit, starting with a fairly simple earthy red cherry.  It continued to develop nicely until we finished off the first ¾ of the bottle, about 3 hours after opening.  Then, it showed complex dark fruits of ripe plum, cherry, mulberry / blackberry, purple grape, with typical Bordeaux brown earthiness, in a lighter medium body.

The saved, single-glass, screw-cap bottle still needed a bit of air, slowly developing along a similar path as the first part of the bottle, although the fruit didn’t seem to be as forthcoming.  I didn’t really give that glass long enough to air, but it did at least show that the wine will be fine the next day.

Thomas Halby 2008 Meritage

Napa Valley, CA
80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc; 14.5% ABV
$8 at the Richmond, CA, store on 21 October

thomashalby_2008_meritageThis wine looked interesting, but I was worried by the notes that were printed on the large price tag for this wine.  They mentioned “sweet oak,” which I often dislike.  My concern was deepened by Seedboy’s calling this wine an “oaky mess.”  However, GLPease, in person, said it was “very nice,” so I thought I’d try one and weigh in.  Well, I kind of agree with both of them.  🙂

The wine’s fruit flavors are lovely and elegant — dark red / blue / purple cherry, slight blackberry, with a little earthy / raisiny aged complexity — but they are unfortunately rather light compared to the oak, which is strongly woody and drying on the finish.  Although I am a little critical here, it has been selling very well for an $8 wine at the GO, so take this with a grain of salt (as usual, I guess).

The next day (saved in single-glass, screw-cap bottle), the fruit and oak were better integrated, but the wine had overall degraded somewhat.  The fruit had become more tangy, showing dark plum / boysenberry, as well as some prune / maybe dark chocolate, with a very slight spoiled-fruit aspect, and still possessing a less pronounced but noticeably drying, woody finish.  Overall, I thought this was an interesting and reasonably tasty wine, but not one about which I’m particularly excited..