Category Archives: Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon and blends

Tilia Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

Tilia Cabernet SauvignonPrice: $9
Winery: Tilia, Mendoza, Argentina
Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon
Packaging: 750 ml bottle, screw cap
Alcohol: 13.9%
Our Rating: 8.5 out of 10

Perhaps the strongest appeal of Tilia Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 is the ripe berry and licorice nose. On the palate, it combines cherry, red berry, and woody notes with an reasonably long finish. It’s on the light side for a Cab, though I didn’t really see the sweetness that a few reviewers noticed. This Cab definitely improves with some air. Despite aerating and a little breathing, the first sips were a bit harsh and not all that flavorful. An hour or two later, the wine was more pleasant and pleasantly drinkable. At first taste, I was thinking a sub-8.0 rating on my personal scale of 10, but after the wine sat for a while I found it more to my liking. Continue reading

Banrock Station Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

Banrock Station Cabernet SauvignonPrice: $18
Maker: Banrock Station, Kingston on Murray, South Australia, Australia
Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon
Packaging: 3-liter box
Alcohol: 13.5%
Our Rating: 8.7 out of 10

Banrock Station Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 is a very pleasant wine, one of the nicer boxed Cabs in mass distribution in the U.S. It’s a fruit-forward Cab, with blueberry and plum flavoers, along with some chocolate, spice, and oak. The finish is reasonably long with medium tannins. Continue reading

Grayson Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

Grayson Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon 2009Price: $10
Winery: Grayson Cellars, St. Helena, California
Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon
Packaging: 750 ml bottle, natural cork
Alcohol: 13.9%
Our Rating: 9.1 out of 10

It’s not often that one gets a really nice Cab for a mere ten bucks, but Grayson Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (Lot 10) is one such wine. This Cab is a dark ruby color with licorice and cherry aromas. The flavor is rich and balanced, starting with ripe cherries and vanilla notes, and finishing with black pepper, robust tannins, and a little oak. The impression is of a more costly wine. Continue reading

Fall Creek Meritus 2006

Fall Creek MeritusPrice: $39
Maker: Fall Creek Vineyards, Tow, Texas
Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon & Merlot blend
Packaging: 750 ml bottle, natural cork
Alcohol: 15.9%
Our Rating: 9.3 out of 10

I pulled a bottle of Fall Creek Meritus 2006 off my shelf without knowing anything about it, other than the fact that it was prominently labeled as a Texas wine. That’s not necessarily the most promising introduction. When I uncorked it and tasted this blend, though, I was surprised in a big way. The wine was very dark garnet in color, and its aroma was mostly spicy with some tobacco and clove notes. The taste is what blew me away. This blend is BIG, with lots of black cherry and blackberry leading into an oaky finish with robust tannins. This wine really expands in the tasting, with a long finish.

Fall Creek describes their Meritus in this way: Continue reading

Bogle Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

Bogle Cabernet SauvignonPrice: $11
Maker: Bogle Vineyards, Graton, California
Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon
Packaging: 750 ml bottle, natural cork
Alcohol: 13.5%
Our Rating: 8.8 out of 10

I’ve had good luck with Bogle’s inexpensive wines, and Bogle Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 is no exception. It leads with ripe cherries, mixed with tobacco, chocolate, and spice. The finish has rich tannins, and the overall structure is very pleasing. For a wine in the $10 range, this Cab is actually amazing. Continue reading

Seriously Good Wine Chalk Hill Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

Seriously Good Wine Chalk HillPrice: $12
Maker: Chateau Diana, Healdsburg, California
Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon
Packaging: 750 ml bottle
Alcohol: 13.7%
Our Rating: 8.9 out of 10

A name like Seriously Good Wine Chalk Hill Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 sets seriously high expectations, even though it’s an inexpensive wine. Seriously, though, this Cab does a reasonable job of living up to those expectations. The berry aroma was unremarkable, but the wine was more interesting on the palate. It started with bright cherry and chocolate notes and finished with robust but well-balanced tannins. The wine was accessible but not overly simple. Continue reading

Kenwood Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

Kenwood Sonoma County Cabernet SauvignonPrice: $11
Maker: Kenwood Vineyards, Sonoma County, California
Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon
Packaging: 750 ml bottle
Alcohol: 13.5%
Our Rating: 8.7 out of 10

At a recent stay at the Hotel Kabuki in San Francisco, I was handed a half-bottle of Kenwood Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 as an amenity of their Joie de Vivre club. It was a screw cap bottle (handy to not have to deal with the whole corkscrew thing if you are handing out bottles of wine to your guests). Although I wasn’t expecting much, this Cab proved to be not only inoffensive but rather tasty. The aroma was of ripe berries with tobacco overtones. It had a fruity raspberry and strawberry flavor, with quite a bit of oak, a hint of chocolate, and robust tannins.

Either the JDV chain got lucky, or they actually put some thought into this selection. This Kenwood Cab is inexpensive, though not in the Two Buck Chuck or Barefoot range. Most importantly, it’s fruity enough to please just about anyone while it sports enough complexity to avoid disaster with a more experienced wine drinker. Plus, it was immediately drinkable, though a little air seemed to bring out more complexity. All in all, it was a very nice welcome to the hotel, and it’s a wine I’ll look for at the wine store.

Black Box California Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

Black Box CabernetPrice: $20
Maker: Black Box Wines, Madera, California
Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon
Packaging: 3-liter box
Alcohol: 13.5%
Our Rating: 8.9 out of 10

Periodically, we revisit the boxed wine of the ubiquitous Black Box Wines. In the case of Black Box California Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, we’re very glad we did. It’s one of the nicest box wines we’ve tried and definitely as good as a lot of bottle wine costing twice as much. This Cab has a very dark ruby color, with bright berry and clove aromas. Raspberry and strawberry flavors predominate, and the finish is long with chewy tannings and a lingering note of dried fruit.

Our history with Black Box Cabs has been mixed. We liked Black Box Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 enough to score it 8.5, but the Black Box 2005 Cab disappointed at a mere 7.5. Happily the 2006 Black Box Paso Robles Cab bounced back to an 8.5. The 2007 California Cabernet Sauvignon, though, was the best of the bunch.

Comments on the latest offerings from Black Box have been mostly positive. Catman_Drinks says, “Usually, boxed wine is in the domain of the cheapest-of-the-cheap, but this is different. It is actually good wine.” Cheap Dates doesn’t rave about this Cab, but notes, “It’s a very juicy, jammy wine that would be a crowd pleaser at a big family party, assuming your family does not consist of wine snobs. There is more flavor and interest here than one expects in a 3-liter box.” WineLife365 tried the 2008, and called it, “by far the best tasting box wine that I’ve ever tried.” Katherine Cole also recommends the 2008, calling it a “crowd-pleaser.” Eat A Perfect Pair said of the 2007, “Lovely wine and a great value.”

I actually scored this box at Sam’s Club for a mere $18 – that’s $4.50 per bottle-equivalent. A pleasant wine and a great value!

Yalumba Premium Selection Cabernet Merlot 2009

Price: $9
Maker: Yalumba, Angaston, Australia
Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon – Merlot Blend
Packaging: 2 liter box, push-button spigot
Alcohol: 13.5%
Our Rating: 6 out of 10

One sip of Yalumba Premium Selection Cabernet Merlot 2009 transported me back to a lovely afternoon in Venice. Unfortunately, the memory was of a cheap, almost undrinkable bulk red wine poured from a stainless steel tank at the cost of a couple of euros for a liter and a half. (Rather than waste a bottle on that stuff, they pour it into a recycled plastic water bottle.) The setting was amazing, the wine, not so much.

Here’s the rest of the story. While traveling to Australia on business, I stopped into a “bottle shop” to explore the local retail scene. At least in downtown Sydney, wine seems to be sold in smaller shops vs. the big-box stores that one finds in the states. Recalling that Australia was the birthplace of boxed wine, I was surprised that only one brand, Yalumba, was represented with several varietals. Then again, there were just a few dozen bottled varieties. I picked up a box of the Cab-Merlot, which was nicely packaged in a 2-liter cask. The 2-liter size is nice, as it is compact and will reduce the boredom from having to finish a four-bottle equivalent 3-liter box.

Onto the wine itself… The earthy berry nose was weak and not promising. The first sip was a disappointment. A harsh off-note overwhelms what might be reasonable blackberry and cinnamon flavors and a not unpleasant tannic finish. The effect was rather prune-like. The wine seemed to improve slightly with extended breathing, but not enough to merit actually buying the stuff again.

It’s odd that one can find more, and better, Australian box wines in the States than in downtown Sydney. Of course, the shop that I visited was quite small. Perhaps on my next trip I can arrange an expedition to a bigger store.

Tempra Tantrum 2008 Tempranillo/Cabernet

Price: $9
Maker: Osborne Seleccion SA, Toledo, Spain
Varietal: Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon Blend
Packaging: 750 ml bottle, screw cap
Alcohol: 13.5%
Our Rating: 8.5 out of 10

In an age when wine names are often cute or funny, Tempra Tantrum 2008 Tempranillo/Cabernet scores big on the cuteness scale. The wine itself isn’t bad either. This blend of Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon is very juicy, with spicy blackberry and raspberry notes on the front end. There’s a hint of chocolate in there, too, followed by a long-lasting tannic finish. This isn’t a complex wine, but it’s highly drinkable and fine for party or picnic fare.

According to the Tempra Tantrum website, this Cab mashup is one of four Tempranillo blends offered by 6th-generation winemaker Rocio Osborne. The website describes the aging process, or lack thereof:

Once fermentation is complete the wine is aged for a short time using a cutting edge technique called micro-oxygenation, which softens the wine and brightens the fruit flavors. Because the wines are made in such a novel soft/gentle style, they require minimum bottle-aging.

They describe the wine as stylish and modern, which I interpret as “not too challenging for the casual wine-drinker.”

Not everyone likes this wine. The Wine Cask Blog thought that, “overwhelming bitter acids and unbalanced blanching tannins make this actually unpleasant.” Ugh, bad bottle, I guess. The Kitchn had better luck, reporting the whole Tempra Tantrum line to be tasty and well balanced. In the Cab blend, they found “Classic cassis and blackberry aromas, with earthy, peppery notes. Vibrant flavors, ripe but slightly firmer tannins.”

For $8-$10 bucks, you shouldn’t go too far wrong with Tempra Tantrum 2008 Tempranillo/Cabernet. It’s a crowd pleaser with a terminally cute (but clever) name.