Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Judgement On My Patio

The last holiday weekend, a good friend and I indulged ourselves in a few bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon, along with a couple of grilled steaks.  We actually opened four Cab/Sauvs.  Two were from South America and two were from the Calistoga region in the Napa Valley.  We both agreed that the South American wines were completely out classed by the Napa Valley wines.   We also had to note that the CA wines sold for an average price of $90 and $50 while the S.A. wines were both under $20.  This kinda gives credence to those that will tell you, "price does mean a lot when comparing wines."  Yes, you can find very good and highly rated inexpensive wine and occasionally some expensive ones that are a disaster.  Odds are though,  you will be very seldom disappointed when you are willing to pay the price.
While tasting, we did share notes and both of us agreed on what we believed to be the best wine that day, but I would like to say a little about the other three.
First, was a Maipe Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 ($10) from the Mendoza region of Argentina.  A very dark purple color with aromas of black currant and dark plum.  Lot of plum and blackberry taste and a nice finish.  This was definitely the best value.
The other South American wine, from the Maipo Valley of Chile was a 2006 Morande Gran Reserve ($15). The color was not as dark as the Maipe, more of a ruby red, but still had aromas of plum and currant with chocolate. Dark berries with some vanilla and a medium finish.  This is still a nice wine at a nice price
The first California wine opened was a Lewis Cellars 2009 ($90).  No, I did not pay that price, the wife would kill me.  This wine was received for review.  Aromas were nice and sweet with plum, black cherry and currants with a lot of spice. In the mouth I got smoke, leather, some currant and spice.  My friend Mark and I both agreed that this wine was not quite ready.  A little too much oak and spice, but should cellar well, although it may have to go a long way to beat out what we picked as the day's best.

About two years ago, I tasted my first wine from Chateau Montelena.  The wine was an '07 Cabernet Sauvignon.  I remember having that wine with a pork roast and savoring every sip, so I was very excited to receive their newly released 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon ($50)
Nice dark red color with aromas of black cherry and plum right off the bat.  Then came some strawberry and black raspberry with hints of vanilla and smoke.  There was also very light aromas of leather.  Nice and smooth in the mouth.  While one of us was getting hints of caramel and the other was getting some chocolate taste, we both agreed here, this is one outstanding wine. Finish was long and almost silky smooth with a touch of vanilla and some spice.  One mistake we made was finishing this wine before the steaks were done. Although a little out of my price range (for now)  this is a Cabernet that I would have no problem stocking up on.  Very nice now and will cellar for a long time to come.

In 1976 Chateau Montelena helped put California at the forefront of the wine world by winning a blind tasting competition outside of Paris.  Known as the "Judgement of Paris"  the Chateau Montelena Chardonnay beat out some of the best Chardonnay's of France.  The story of that event can be found with the movie "Bottle Shock" or the book "Judgement of Paris" by George Taber.  Mr. Taber who wrote for Time magazine was the only reporter to attend the tasting.


Nick Webb said...


Can't go wrong with steak and Cab Sauvs! I've actually never had a Chateau Montelena Cab, but got a really good deal on their 2002 Estate Cab a few years ago and cellared it. It's about time to pop the cork on it--that will be a good day. How do you think the 2009 compares with other Napa Cab Sauvs near the $50 price point?


joeshico said...

Wish I could honestly answer your question Nick. I nave not tasted that many $50 wines of any variety.
Only 3 Cabs that I can think of that I splurged on in the past where Fransican, Rombaur and Lythe. If I remember, they were all good, but I never reviewed because of the price. The Chateau Montelena, though, may be the best Cab/Sauv I have ever had. I thought that of their '07 also.

Nick Webb said...

The 09 Chateau Montelena sounds great--hopefully I'll get a chance to taste it.