Wine Tastings

Family Wineries and Boutique Vineyards Charm at THE CAB CLASSIC

By Meridith May

Thanks to Red Carpet Wine, the premiere wine and spirits store in Glendale, a ballroom at the Glendale Hilton served as Cab Central, allowing a divine right of passage – red wine on the palate – of some of the smaller labels from the North.
Only scheduling two pages to rave about the intricacies and revelations of the event may have not been my best-planned layout, so bear with us as we yank out our notes on our don’t-miss-this-one or you’ve-got-to-know-about-that-one highlights.
The Cab Classic is a charity fund-raiser for the Wound Healing Foundation, sponsoring projects designed to improve quality of curing, education and science related to wound healing.

David Dobbs, Owner of Red Carpet Wine & Spirits with Peter Thompson of Andrew Geoffrey Wines. “This is one of the more exciting labels we are carrying and the 2002 shows the wine’s ability to improve yet again,” said Dobbs.

Grown on an elevation of 1500 ft on Napa’s eastside, the ’02 Cloud View Cab/Merlot is a stunner. Blended from 12 different vineyard sites on rugged hillsides in the much talked about Pritchard Hill area, the wine expresses gobby fruit that excites. Red Carpet’s Mike Ulanday christens it “Best of Show.” (SRP $60, 1000 cases, Diane Harder Wines)

Winemaker Sandi Belcher did it again. Arns 2002 is estate grown fruit (near Howell Mtn) overlooking St. Helena. Round, fruit-driven mocha-mint elegance. ($75, 55 cases, Golden State Wines)

Here’s Bob Long, who established his vineyards in 1967 (!) in the Pritchard Hill area, between Howell Mtn and Stag’s Leap. “I think we’re beginning to see distinctive character in the eastern hills of Napa.” Long ’01 displayed violets, blackberry, anise and rich dark cherry: expressive! (SRP $60, 500 cases, Golden State Wines)

Wow. Egelhoff. Violets, cherry and bittersweet chocolate in a rich mouth-filling elegance. (SRP $75, 700 cases, Prem Wines)

Now called Rubicon Estate (formerly Niebaum-Coppola) the 2002 Rubicon Estate Cask Cabernet Sauvignon is a powerhouse with intriguing New World flavors of vanilla Coke, toast and cocoa cherry. Aged in American oak for 24 months. (SRP $55, American Wines)

“Serious” was the word that ran across our notes in bold letters when it came to the 2003 Neal Family Cab, culled from nine different mountain vineyards and 40 years of family wine-growing history. Extracted fruit was in balance: focused, stately, expressive and most worthy. (SRP $45, Winery Direct)

The Bordeaux-like quality of gorgeous Beau Vigne 2003 Napa Valley Cab shows its structured style in its second vintage. From nine acres of estate fruit, overlooking Napa’s fog layered eastside, you can sense the sun and the soil in this single vineyard Cab reserve. Pictured is owner Trish Snider. (SRP $90, 372 cases, Shiverick Wines)

Winemaker Heidi Barrett (we could probably just stop at that) has created a rustic Oakville Cab in Paradigm and the ’02 displays grilled meat and gobs of fruit. Aged in French oak, this is the winery’s “pattern for perfection.” (4500 cases, winery direct)

Dana and Don Gallagher wear all the hats at Trespass, a winery named in honor of the people they have not yet met who wander on their property. In its third vintage, the Cabernet Franc is deliriously serene, and possesses a “velvet pillow” element. (SRP $38, 400 cases, winery direct)

We salute Chris Madrigal again this year. His ’03 Napa Valley Sonnet #63 is a Meritage blend that won’t be released until May. “Madrigal is my fun day job,” he says. Chris growa 1,000 acres of grapes for lots of wineries including Shafer and Duckhorn. (SRP $60, 200 cases, winery direct)

Constant Diamond Mountain Vineyards 2002 Cab is concentrated mountain fruit that is a mass of layered complexity. “That’s why we call it Constant,” comments Proprietor Freddie Constant (pictured). (SRP $85, 777 cases, Wine Warehouse)

The ranch property that is now Altamura Vineyards has been in existence since 1855 and part of the family ever since. Napa-born Frank Altamura started his winery 20 years ago, and is both farmer and winemaker. The Altamura 2002 Cab is a concentration of minerals, mocha and rootbeer, surrounded by beefy black berries: almost a puréed fruit quality. Yum! (SRP $65, Shiverick Wines)


THE TASTING PANEL, 6345 Balboa Blvd, Ste. 111, Encino, CA 91316
Content ©2016 THE TASTING PANEL magazine. All rights reserved