Reserve: 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon by MV Vineyards

Tonight’s occasion: 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon (Reserve) by MV (Miller Vineyards), Fair Play, California.

Last year our search for Winemaker Of The Year took us on an unexpected journey. We toured various California wine country but none left a an indelible mark like the Sierra Foothills. We were on the road almost every weekend of the year and tasting several times a week. We encountered so many amazing winemakers toiling away at their life’s passion. About half a dozen emerged as hands down in the class of their own, not just on a local or California stage but on a world stage. MV Vineyards was perhaps the most notable in this respect.

Tonight we look at a Cabernet Sauvignon. This is a distillation of what a big California Cab is all about. A true artisan work of art by a craftsman with absolutely no compromise and every possible attention to detail. Batches are so small you will never find this masterpiece anywhere else but in the little cottage at the end of the road in Fair Play.

Dark inky color. Big, warm, intense nose with caramel and marshmallows which quickly dissipate once it opens up. Subtle plum, blackberries, bramble bush and wild herbs take center stage. Terroir is very restrained an leans on the mineral sandstone side of the spectrum.

Body is measured. Well balanced from front to back. A measured dose of blackberries and plum carry over while retaining its dry overall posture. Herbs and wild bush remain in the back while bold well structured fine grained tannins take over the transition to a firm but restrained finish, capped with a healthy dose of spice. Simply amazing!

You cannot speak of California Wines and not have immersed yourself in art like this. This is the frontier, the leading edge of what made California wines what they are today. You will never find a corporate mass production wine that comes even close to this. This, like the others we have reviewed on here are worth a trip to California and the Sierra Foothills. Well done Mr. & Mrs. Miller!

Wine Review: 2016 Cab Sauv by Canvasback

Tonight’s occasion: 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon by Canvasback, Red Mountain [AVA], Yakima Valley [AVA], Columbia Valley [AVA], Washington State.

Dark rich color. Long dark legs. Crisp, clean nose with lots of berry and plum. This is a Cabernet Sauvignon. Lots of good fruit up front along with a healthy dose of restraint. A hint of oak in the back.

Body has very good crisp, clean structure and balance. Not as fruit forward as the nose would suggest. The oak while still restrained, is a touch more pronounced. Expression of the terroir is muted and more mineral if anything. I think this may be the reason for its crisp, clean posture.

It has a great mouth feel. It’s so easy for a Cab to get out of hand and overbearing. This one is extremely well behaved and tamed. I suspect the climate in the region may have something to do with it. Firm tannins lead to a smooth finish dominated by their ever tightening grip. A hint of tobacco, smokey oak and moderate enduring dry spice wrap up the experience.

Most wines have a certain aristic flare to them. This wine feels like it was made with a healthy dose of OCD. It feels like there was great attention to detail and a strict adherence to core principles. This is my first time tasting wine from this little know region. I am very impressed by the quality of the wine and craftsmanship.

Nicely done Canvasback!

Reader Notes

Opened it 10 minutes ago and poured it into the glass. It has a dark ruby red color with viscosity. Its shy on the nose initially but I get some spicy fresh aromas of dark currants, plums, dried herbs. It has mild acidity and good fruit with some roundness on the palate but it has peppery notes on the palate. It has mild to moderate tannins but a smooth very long finish.

My wife has an incredible palate. She is going to taste it soon. Its definitely drinkable without food but I can see it as food friendly. I’ll let you know when I have it with food.

The tannins are not intense. It’s a very well balanced wine. Definitely approachable young compared to Napa cabs. Wifey felt it also has a taint of tobacco leaf and I agree. I think that comes once it’s open longer.

~ Dr Cruz-Romero

 

Thanks to wine.com and their extensive library, you can now access most of the wines I review on here. You can use the link below to have Canvasback wines delivered to your doorstep.

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Reserve: 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon by Louis Martini

Tonight’s occasion: 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon by Louis Martini, Napa Valley.

A textbook Big Napa Cab. Deep rich color. Clean, crisp nose characterized by tart plum and a hint of cherry on the back which quickly dissipates giving way to a neutral terroir undertone. There is a noticeable absence of any heat in the nose. Surprising for a wine with 15.1% ABV. The full, chewy, fruit forward body follows, with lots of blackberry, and buttery tannin. This massive Napa Cab is surprisingly balanced. A testament of the winemaker’s craft. A creamy transition to a smooth, moderately tannic finish. An enduring spicy heat finally keeps the palate warm long after. This wine must have started out as a real beast to tame. It is very approachable now and should further develop nicely over the next few years. Well done guys🍷😁👌🏽

Thanks to wine.com and their extensive library, you can now access most of the wines I review on here. You can use the link below to have Louis Martini wines delivered to your doorstep.

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Reserve: 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon by Sterling Vineyards

Tonight’s occasion: 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon by Sterling Vineyards, Calistoga, Napa Valley.

Dark rich color. Upon opening, I am hit with an intense bouquet of floral notes (lavender comes to mind) that quickly vanishes, giving way to intense plum, berry and mineral terroir. As it opens, a sweet cherry vanilla emerges then vanishes. I get the feeling this wine did not appreciate being disturbed this early in its journey. Body is big, heavy, dry, very spicy. None of the nose carries over other than the mineral terroir. Transition to finish is seamless as tannins turn slightly creamy just before infusing the palate with a lasting spicy grip. At 14.9% ABV, this is a big Napa Cab by all accounts. Despite this it still exhibits good balance.

This wine has a long road ahead, on its journey to its fullest expression. I probably won’t be opening anymore of this vintage for another 5 years or so. I look forward to seeing how it develops over time.

This is a well built wine.🍷😁👌🏽

Thanks to wine.com and their extensive library, you can now access most of the wines I review on here. You can use the link below to have Sterling wines delivered to your doorstep.

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The Winery, Sydney, Australia

After a few false starts at finding a proper establishment that took not just their wines but also their Australian wines seriously, I finally stumbled upon The Winery. I should have started here and so hopefully this post will help any fellow winesnobs out there get a decent start to their visit to this part of the world.

The Winery is a Wine Bar, “A quirky urban garden oasis in the heart of Surry Hills” and I would agree on all counts. It is also warm, welcoming, inviting, rustic, simple. It is as one would imagine, Australian. I was looking for a place where I could explore Australian wines. Hopefully small batch production, artisan wines. I realized this was a tall order for a big city like Sydney but I knew there had to be a few of them.

I wanted to get an overarching sense of what Australian wines are all about. There is such a thing. Similar to the overarching theme one refers to when they say “Big California Pinot” or “Napa Cab”. I also wanted to get a feel for the overall quality and hence maturity of the Australian wine industry overall.

Fortunately I arrived at the right time. They had just upgraded to a new tasting station which afforded many more wines to be available for tasting on demand. Once I explained what my objective was, my hostess was very gracious enough to let me explore wines and vintages previously unavailable for tasting.

All the Aussie wines I tried were good, well made wines. This is perhaps the single biggest overarching theme of this trip. See, in California, if you ask for an Aussie wine, you’ll most likely be presented with YellowTail… That’s like asking for a California wine and getting Gallo… Nuff said. Below are three wines that stood out the most for me as well as my notes from this outing.

2015 Cabernet Sauvignon by Tomfoolery

Slightly fruity nose with good berry, a little plum and oak. Restrained body, mild acidity, showing good balance, structure and moderate fruit. 14.5% ABV is unnoticeable. Smooth finishes, once opened develops long gentle tannic grip.

2018 Grenache by Tarot

Clean crisp wine. But this is an illusion. This is a bid powerful wine. At 14.9% ABV, an iron fist in a velvet glove. Nose subdued with hints of strawberry, oak, cherry and the faintest of earth in the background. Oak and cherry carry through the body, introducing heat and mild tannin. A surprising amount of structure once opened. Finish throws a fake as massive spice and tannin make a late entrance towards the end. This wine is no joke. If this Tarot is any indication of your fortunes, you’d better buckle-up. 😳

2014 Shiraz by Gaelic Cemetery Vineyard

 

Trying to read this wine is akin to stepping up to an old brick building and trying to sniff the bricks. It just won’t work. The nose is very reserved, giving only hints of berry, faint raisin, cherry. Leather, mineral, licorice and black currant only momentarily when swirled vigorously. This wine does not like to be disturbed. A massive tightly integrated body proves a challenge to pick apart. Minerality is pronounced. Very structured, inky, earthy come to mind. The finish quickly gives way to super heavy massive granite tannic grip that just won’t quit! I think I just found my new favorite Aussie wine! 😭🍷

Wine Review: 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon by Altue, Chile

Tonight’s occasion: 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon by Altue, Chile.

We are truly living in a golden age for wines in general. I am sitting here contemplating the finer points of a great little wine from lesser known corner of the world in Chile and thinking to myself, not only is the wine well made, it is one hell of a steal. Mere decades ago, such a moment would have been highly unlikely.

Pleasant nose with plum, cherry, oak, earth, and at least one other floral note that combines to create a subtle butterscotch twist (for lack of a better descriptor). Once opened I detect a hint of minerality. This all carries forward into a mild mannered body with oak and vanilla more pronounced and fruit diminished. Minerality carries forward to the body as well. The body is light and understated for a Cabernet Sauvignon. None too acidic. It reads like a big California Pinot Noir. After about an hour the body develops a noticeable buttery caramel character. The finish is graceful and quickly fades away with a suggestion of tannin. Once opened, the cherry is more pronounced in the finish.

Overall this is a smooth wine. I love noticing the terroir in a wine. This tells me that little has been done to the wine in the way of altering its expression. It is an honest wine. Approachable. It is not overly complex. At 13% ABV it is also not a laborious, exhausting affair either. You can open a bottle and slowly follow it through your evening without suffering from palate fatigue. This is a fantastic EDC wine (EDC = Every Day Consumption). For the price Casemates Wine is offering it presents great value for the price. This is a great way to stock up your cellar.