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Jim Grow

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Where are all the Cal. Cab. Lovers?

by Jim Grow » Sun Feb 24, 2013 10:25 pm

I have recently been drinkling a lot of Cal. Cab. none of which I see posted here lately. Many are excellent (IMHO) and include (tonight) 2009 Calistoga Cellars but also Bugay, De Sante, Bennett Family, Rockledge, Vine Cliff, Sueno Profundo, Maple Lane, Topel, Provenance, Levendi, Anakota, Maroon, Baus, Atlas Peak, Kuleto, Coniglio, Roth, Snowden, Conn Valley, Mt. Veeder, Bernardus, Ahnfeldt, Farella, Hoopla, Summers, Cade, Faust and Chorus. I guess I am in the vast minority with interest in these fruit-forward Cabernets. I would love to see how these mature with 10+ years on them but I drink them too often to find out. Do any of you out there like any of these Cabernets and how do they age?
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Re: Where are all the Cal. Cab. Lovers?

by Redwinger » Sun Feb 24, 2013 11:38 pm

Jim-
How about you suggest Cabernet, with a mini-focus on Cali, as the subject for The March "Wine Focus". I wish you luck getting the hipsters to go along with that after all their twitching over doing Merlot in January.
FWIW, NJ is on a Tom Eddy Cabernet binge lately having opened the 95, 96 and 98 in the last couple of months. She reports all are doing nicely as some of them approach their 20th birthday.
Smile, it gives your face something to do!
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Re: Where are all the Cal. Cab. Lovers?

by John Treder » Mon Feb 25, 2013 12:31 am

Ackshly, Jim, I like CalCab, and have about a couple of dozen (including Bdx blends) in the box in the garage. And some Cab Franc, too.
I tend to prefer the ones that are a bit restrained (in a California-ish sense) and I might have more if the pricing were more in line with zin (see my cognomen) and other warmer-weather wines. I must admit, though, that few of them are something worth crowing about. OTOH, I can't remember one that I wanted to piss & moan about!
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Re: Where are all the Cal. Cab. Lovers?

by John S » Mon Feb 25, 2013 2:55 am

In Canada, the price of the Cali cabs available here have gone through the roof, starting about 10 years ago. As a result, I'm rarely a buyer, unless something gets discounted. There's too many wines from other regions that offer way better QPR. I do miss Napa cabs a bit, as I cut my teeth on them before they went all Bordeaux on us, but I refuse to support the greed and ego fueled price increases.

I remember going to Caymus in the early 1990s, and Mr Wagner was pouring at the tasting room in the days before appointments were required. He flatly stated to the group I was tasting with, "Bordeaux can charge $100 per bottle, so I'm going to raise my prices as well - if they can do it, i can do it". He was true to his word at least!
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Re: Where are all the Cal. Cab. Lovers?

by Joy Lindholm » Mon Feb 25, 2013 2:58 am

Jim Grow wrote:I have recently been drinkling a lot of Cal. Cab. none of which I see posted here lately. Many are excellent (IMHO) and include (tonight) 2009 Calistoga Cellars but also Bugay, De Sante, Bennett Family, Rockledge, Vine Cliff, Sueno Profundo, Maple Lane, Topel, Provenance, Levendi, Anakota, Maroon, Baus, Atlas Peak, Kuleto, Coniglio, Roth, Snowden, Conn Valley, Mt. Veeder, Bernardus, Ahnfeldt, Farella, Hoopla, Summers, Cade, Faust and Chorus. I guess I am in the vast minority with interest in these fruit-forward Cabernets. I would love to see how these mature with 10+ years on them but I drink them too often to find out. Do any of you out there like any of these Cabernets and how do they age?


I wouldn't lump Snowden in with the fruit-forward style Cali Cabs. They are one of the more balanced Cabs out there along with the likes of Arnot-Roberts, Truchard, Broadside and a few others. Personally, I think Cabs in general are way over-rated (but definitely can be great) - especially jammy, overpriced, cult-statused, point laden ones.
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Re: Where are all the Cal. Cab. Lovers?

by Jon Leifer » Mon Feb 25, 2013 11:17 am

I still drink a fair amount of Cal cab, tho not as much as in the past, and have no experience with any of the ones on your list, Jim..Only Rockledge wine I have tasted, and it was terrific , was their PS and that was years ago, Haven't seen it locally in ages..We enjoyed several vintages of their PS and It was one of the best Petite Syrahs I have tasted....I do enjoy the Provenance SB and have had several bottles of less than memorable Bernardus whites..Of fthe top of my head, the Cal cabs in our cellar are: Rafanelli, Caymus, Alpha Omega, Dominus, Mondavi reserve, Sojourn , Scherrer, Bryant, Montelena, ..Not much of a buyer these days, am drinking down my cellar
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Re: Where are all the Cal. Cab. Lovers?

by Bill Spohn » Mon Feb 25, 2013 11:36 am

John S wrote:In Canada, the price of the Cali cabs available here have gone through the roof, starting about 10 years ago. As a result, I'm rarely a buyer, unless something gets discounted. There's too many wines from other regions that offer way better QPR. I do miss Napa cabs a bit, as I cut my teeth on them before they went all Bordeaux on us, but I refuse to support the greed and ego fueled price increases.

I remember going to Caymus in the early 1990s, and Mr Wagner was pouring at the tasting room in the days before appointments were required. He flatly stated to the group I was tasting with, "Bordeaux can charge $100 per bottle, so I'm going to raise my prices as well - if they can do it, i can do it". He was true to his word at least!



Amen on local prices.

Sadly, all the Calcabs I used to collect have gone through the roof - all well over $100 a bottle, and as excellent wines are available for less than that (Rhones, Spanish, Italian) I haven't been a buyer since the late 1990s vintages. I've actually been trying a few current vintages lately and have been disappointed in what I am finding. Most seem to be flash in the pan sweet wines, ironically probably exactly what you say you prefer, but definitely not my cup of tea.
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Re: Where are all the Cal. Cab. Lovers?

by Brian K Miller » Mon Feb 25, 2013 1:42 pm

I still love California Cabernet. I prefer a more old school, lean, even green style myself. From your list, I like Ahnfeldt and I LOVE Farella-Park. Don't like Bennet Lane-their high end bottling lost all its fruit and there was nothing left but alcohol (15%+!!!) and tannins after only a few years!

Check out Clos Du Val and (higher price) Corison for great Cali Cabs. Also...Alexander Valley Vineyards (even their priciest Bordeaux Blend is still $50ish), Dashe, Hopper Creek, and Loxton for other California Cabs. Loxton and Dashe are very fairly priced.
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Re: Where are all the Cal. Cab. Lovers?

by Brian Gilp » Mon Feb 25, 2013 2:10 pm

Sure prices have gone up but no one needs to spend $100/btl. Short list below of things that I generally like and I don't think any of them come it at over $100 but some are close
Arns
Togni
Ridge - Estate or MB on futures
EMH
Laurel Glen
Corrison
Mt. Eden

I have been a buyer of all of these in the past year, two max.
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Re: Where are all the Cal. Cab. Lovers?

by Bill Spohn » Mon Feb 25, 2013 2:36 pm

Brian Gilp wrote:Sure prices have gone up but no one needs to spend $100/btl. Short list below of things that I generally like and I don't think any of them come it at over $100 but some are close
Togni $135-165 Can.
Corrison $95-100



Others currently unavailable in BC/Canada.

Other faves - Montelena $160, Dominus $175 (Napanook is under $100), Caymus SS $135......etc.
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Re: Where are all the Cal. Cab. Lovers?

by David M. Bueker » Mon Feb 25, 2013 2:46 pm

Looking at the cellartracker data, I have purchased exactly 3 California Cabernets not called Ridge or Montelena over the last 5 years. I did buy an Arnot-Roberts, but have not tasted it yet, so not sure if I will go after more. Not sure when to open it either, as it's a 1.5L.
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Re: Where are all the Cal. Cab. Lovers?

by Joy Lindholm » Mon Feb 25, 2013 3:16 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:Looking at the cellartracker data, I have purchased exactly 3 California Cabernets not called Ridge or Montelena over the last 5 years. I did buy an Arnot-Roberts, but have not tasted it yet, so not sure if I will go after more. Not sure when to open it either, as it's a 1.5L.


What vintage?
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Re: Where are all the Cal. Cab. Lovers?

by David M. Bueker » Mon Feb 25, 2013 3:37 pm

The Arnot-Roberts is the 2010 Vare Vineyard Cabernet (Mt. Veeder).
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Re: Where are all the Cal. Cab. Lovers?

by Joy Lindholm » Mon Feb 25, 2013 4:07 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:The Arnot-Roberts is the 2010 Vare Vineyard Cabernet (Mt. Veeder).


From my recent experience with the Arnot-Roberts Bugay and Clajeaux Cabs, both 2008, they need several more years to develop. In my talking to folks who have some older Arnot-Roberts Cabs, they recommend at least 10 years or so before they hit their prime.
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Re: Where are all the Cal. Cab. Lovers?

by Brian Gilp » Mon Feb 25, 2013 4:12 pm

Bill Spohn wrote:
Brian Gilp wrote:Sure prices have gone up but no one needs to spend $100/btl. Short list below of things that I generally like and I don't think any of them come it at over $100 but some are close
Togni $135-165 Can.
Corrison $95-100



Others currently unavailable in BC/Canada.

Other faves - Montelena $160, Dominus $175 (Napanook is under $100), Caymus SS $135......etc.


Well that stinks. Cellar tracker shows I bought the 1999 Corison in March of 2011 at $40 and that I bought the 1999 Togni in Sept of 2012 at $70. Both were purchased retail not at auction. I can still get some vintages of Togni (1998, 2000, 2003, and 2005) for $80 or less at MacArthurs http://www.bassins.com/wine/us/california-cabernet.php
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Re: Where are all the Cal. Cab. Lovers?

by Diane (Long Island) » Mon Feb 25, 2013 4:21 pm

I do enjoy California Cab, but don't drink them as much because of the food I eat. For me, they need a piece of beef, and prefeably a juicy steak. I don't eat steak very often, so I don't reach for a Cab very often.

The Cabs in my cellar are from EMH Vineyards, Corison, Guilliams, and Scherrer. I have a couple of others with a bigger profile, but this list contains Cabernet that is made in a restrained style that I appreciate. I've picked up Rafanelli and Larkmead when we visit the wineries, and I'm always looking for producers to visit when we make our somewhat frequent trips to Napa and Sonoma.
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Re: Where are all the Cal. Cab. Lovers?

by Sam Platt » Mon Feb 25, 2013 4:27 pm

Jim,

In my cellar I have Caymus SS, Heitz MV, Ridge, Coppola Rubicon, Dunn HM, Dominus, and Beringer PR among first tier producers. I don't drink them that often because I can't afford to. I agree that the second tier wines are often overpriced and I find a better QPR elsewhere though I do like the Hahn Winery cabs.
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Re: Where are all the Cal. Cab. Lovers?

by Mark Lipton » Tue Feb 26, 2013 12:21 am

I've a fair bit of CalCab in the cellar, but I've found that I prefer them with a lot of bottle age, so most aren't "ready" to drink by my standards. Couple that with my preference for traditionally styled, structured examples of the genre and I'll be opening up most of mine when I'm on death's doorstep, I'm afraid.

Joy, thanks for the input on the '08 A-R Bugay. I've got some of that after a visit to the winery.

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Re: Where are all the Cal. Cab. Lovers?

by Jon Peterson » Tue Feb 26, 2013 10:43 am

Mark Lipton wrote:I've a fair bit of CalCab in the cellar, but I've found that I prefer them with a lot of bottle age...


I'm with you, Mark. I opened a 2005 Mt. Veeder Winery Cab for dinner Sunday night and it was absolutely wonderful. For me, having wines like this would not be possible without a wine cellar and it is one of the main reason to have a cellar.
I just wanted to inform you that I find you to be very attractive. Thank you and have a nice day.
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Re: Where are all the Cal. Cab. Lovers?

by Bill Spohn » Tue Feb 26, 2013 1:23 pm

Jon Peterson wrote: I opened a 2005 Mt. Veeder Winery Cab for dinner Sunday night and it was absolutely wonderful. For me, having wines like this would not be possible without a wine cellar and it is one of the main reason to have a cellar.


Not poking fun at you, Jon, but I actually laughed when I saw that!

Good example of how tastes vary. I wouldn't even think about drinking a good California Cabernet at that young age. I am just starting in on my early 90s cabs.
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Re: Where are all the Cal. Cab. Lovers?

by Jenise » Fri Mar 01, 2013 10:20 pm

Bill, you were definitely a lucky boy to have had both the cellar space, palate for, and means to buy the kind of wines you did such that now, still shy of 60, you're drinking 20 year old Cal Cabs the way you are. Not all can say that.

On that subject, btw, if I were to have tasted all the wines today blind and then been offered one more big glass of any of them? Your 92 Beringer Reserve would have been my choice. It wasn't the most intellectually engaging--that would be the Thackrey Orion--but for pure pleasure and comfort, your wine easily won my vote. Geo's would have been my last choice. :)
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Re: Where are all the Cal. Cab. Lovers?

by Jon Peterson » Sat Mar 02, 2013 10:31 am

Bill Spohn wrote:I wouldn't even think about drinking a good California Cabernet at that young age.


I need to be more patient, I guess, Bill. :)
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Re: Where are all the Cal. Cab. Lovers?

by Ryan M » Sat Mar 02, 2013 11:09 am

I love Alexander Valley Cabs and Napa Cabs from old school producers, but I don't often actually buy Cali Cabs. In practice, about the only Cali Cabs I buy are Louis Martini, and they age very nicely.

Does anybody have experience with Vincent Arroyo Cabs?
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Re: Where are all the Cal. Cab. Lovers?

by Mark Lipton » Sat Mar 02, 2013 7:52 pm

Bill Spohn wrote:
Jon Peterson wrote: I opened a 2005 Mt. Veeder Winery Cab for dinner Sunday night and it was absolutely wonderful. For me, having wines like this would not be possible without a wine cellar and it is one of the main reason to have a cellar.


Not poking fun at you, Jon, but I actually laughed when I saw that!

Good example of how tastes vary. I wouldn't even think about drinking a good California Cabernet at that young age. I am just starting in on my early 90s cabs.


No surprise, I suppose, Bill, but I am in the same boat as you.

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