Californian Cabernet – the world’s greatest…?

Stone Barn Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, California (£7.99 Bibendum, House of Fraser)
A manufactured feel about this jammy black fruit, complete with pips, and a ripe but rather forced/baked finish. C-

Delicato First Press Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, Napa Valley, California (£17 Bibendum, Whole Foods)
Oddly disjointed, with one side that shows appealing plummy blackcurrant fruit, and another that has rather clunky oak, harsh tannins and a touch of volatility. Hmm… C+

(neither of these two seems to be on the Bibendum web site, and the stuff on the Delicato site isn’t much either…)

Rutherford Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, Napa Valley, California (£15.99 Wine Rack)
Lighter, gentler style, also feels quite mature, with dusty plum and leather notes, and touches of liquorice and vanilla. Let down by a touch of dead fruit (think baked berries) and that slightly crude vanilla edge – American oak? But overall, good. B(+)

Frog’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, Napa Valley, California (£33 Richard Granger, Slurp, HarperWells)
This is more like it – a warm Mediterranean herby fragrance and note of tobacco alongside the dusty plum, berry and cassis flavours, and that slightly leafy note that too many in California still see as a negative. Young and tight at the moment, but you can already enjoy the vibrant juicy flavours. S+

Cafaro Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, Napa Valley, California (£34.99 Liberty Wines)
Richer than the Frog’s Leap, with a slightly roasted edge to the ripe chewy damson skin, blackcurrant and blackberry flavours. Not hugely subtle nor refined but scores for its honest richness. S(-)

(all these prices date from before the Jan 2011 increase in VAT)

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3 thoughts on “Californian Cabernet – the world’s greatest…?

  • Nicky B

    Hi Simon
    Loved the reviews! I reckon we have got one of the most competitive Californian portfolio’s for indies in UK, all offering decent value for money at each level. Want to try them?!

    PS. Are you coming to the Washington Tasting on 20th Jan at Royal Engineers? We have an importer table for Powers and the newest member of the team will be manning our stand!

  • Simon Post author

    Not sure if I’ll be there on the 20th Nicky. Am supposed to be doing an all-day tasting somewhere else in London, but it may end up being postponed (as it has three times previously). If so, I’ll be there, if not, then no. But would love to try your Californians

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