Cali Cab and an Exposé about wine consumption when the rooster was crowing!

Some people out there swear that California Cabernet Sauvignon is tops. That certainly is open for debate. One thing for sure a top growth Cali Cab is not cheap and so iconic you need to be put on a wait list. Now not being a neurologist, cardiologist or social media tycoon, I don’t think many of us want to shell out hundreds of dollars for a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Yes folks most of us are bottom feeders.  But we can be brave and try a Simi Cabernet Sauvignon from Sonoma County for $29.95.

On the nose blueberry and blueberry pie rule the roost. There are also bits of blackberry and black cherry. On the palate moderate tannins with black cherry and raspberry clafouti. The Vintages catalogue speaks of spicy oak notes? Can’t smell or taste those? Sadly there is not much I see in the flowery description in the Vintages catalogue, so I think you’d be better off with the Walla Walla Canoe 2016 Ridge Reserve I reviewed recently giving it a 94.

A decent Friday night wine for lamb or beef burgers or homemade veggie pizza, with olives and anchovies please.

Drink within the next couple of years. The $3.00 extra for the Canoe Ridge is a much better investment.

(Simi Cabernet Sauvignon 2017, Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, Simi Winery, Napa, California, $29.95, 750 mL, Liquor Control Board of Ontario # 25221, Robert K. Stephen a little birdie told me so Rating 86/100)

Well here comes anther one from Napa Valley, a Havens 2017 Cali Cab. This wine got a rating of 99 Best of class Appellation at the 2019 California State Fair. No carbon neutral bottle here as it weighs a ton.

On the nose it is more or less exploding with black fruit with strong streaks of oak. You might want to call it a classic heavy duty Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. For many that will put a smile on their face. Moderate tannins and at the risk of sounding contradictory silky-smooth tannins. On the palate you’ll get a load of cassis, blackberry and Santa Rosa plum. Although perhaps lush and plush it refrains from being jammy and over oaked so you might call it firm and disciplined. A full-bodied wine and great for sipping and with grilled lamb, beef or pork roast crusted with pesto.

99 is indeed a huge score but in the context of a wine competition where entry fees are paid and charges for table space are incurred the full extent of relevant competition may be excluded and a high volume of wine may impair a judges’ ability to render an accurate score and I am not referring to intoxication because judges spit (although there is some leakage) but because of palate weariness. One thing I have noticed on media tours great care is taken to keep samples limited to around 7 wines per producer at 10 a.m. Then the same followed by another producer followed by a filling lunch and then maybe 3-4 more wineries in the afternoon spaced out and with snacks and munchies. Then a break at the hotel and a big dinner with some of the best food in the locale with wineries not on the tour pouring their wares with lots of courses. Do this for 5-6 days and you are wine worn-out but highly educated in a way very few non-media types could ever afford. In fact these tours could never be purchased. Each wine writer may be worth hundreds of thousands of readers.

In a personal vein I remember a great Portuguese wine tour with mostly Port and two of us (how so very special) were trying perhaps 40 a day with table wines at lunch and dinner. I was with a freelancer from Canada’s Globe & Mail. Both of us were exhausted so much so we said to the tour organizer on our last night please only 5 samples to try and we want to be out by 9 at the latest. Well 10 samples awaited us and dinner, as fantastic as it was served at 9. I excused myself at 10 bearing mind I had to pack and be up at 3 a.m. for a 6 a.m. flight from Porto to Frankfurt.

Yes up at three and brushing my teeth spitting out was half port and half toothpaste. A quick breakfast and to the airport with Mr. Antonio. Well once we were in the air and at 7 a.m ordered a bottle of German sparkling wine and had a good sleep our heads on each other’s shoulders.

Sorry for the diversion which I hope you found entertaining. You know the ooohs and ahs I receive when I tell people I have been on the tours. I tell them these tours are exhausting and they look at me with incredible puzzlement. Regrettably with COVID it may be a few years before the wine media circuit is restored.

(Havens Cabernet Sauvignon 2017, Rutherford, Napa Valley, Stonehedge Winery, Napa Valley, $38.95, Liquor Control Board of Ontario # 1661, 750 mL, 14.5%, Robert K. Stephen a little birdie told me so rating 92/100).

Published by Robert K Sephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden and the University of Toronto. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he has established this publication. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."

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