Now that my surprising Pinot Noir tasting was behind me (and I say "surprising" because I had yet to realize the magnitude of deliciousness that awaited me) my enological anticipation was growing as the Cabernet Sauvignon sampling was at hand. This tasting night, four of us gathered around my dining room table with white sensory evaluation note sheets in front of us, ink pens at the ready, and three wine glasses partly filled with wines from California, Washington and Australia. Here are my notes in the order tasted:
1. Columbia Crest (2007), Horse Heaven Hills (H3) Cabernet Sauvignon (WA). (14.5% alc., Source: HyVee, Cost; ~$13).
All the wines were attractive and lined up next to each other in front of us. This first wine was a deeply ruby-hued medium intensity elixir possessing bold and syrupy thick legs that endured for minutes. The aromatics of this Cabernet easily released a wonderful complex of light smoke, black pepper, black berries, some cedar, and just a smidgen of dark chocolate. Nice. At first sip the wine elicited a rather acidic sensation followed quickly by a blast of blackberry that evolved giving rise to spicy qualities of black pepper, moderate tannins, and leaving the back of my throat somewhat hot post-swallow. Pleasantly full bodied. The aftertaste didn’t last as long as I’d hoped for but did leave an enjoyable peppery sensation. Wonderful wine at a good price!
2. Dancing Bull (2006) Winemakers Reserve, Cabernet Sauvignon (CA). (13.5% alc., Source: HyVee, Cost: ~$10).
Richly saturated, ruby tinted wine thrust aromas of raspberries and something reminiscent of cellulose (reminded me of the smell of a paper mill town). Initially this aromatic compound was not terribly pleasing but tended to mellow, and improve, over the next few moments. A thin, watery yet good wine provided flavors of black cherry, raspberry, and even gave a hint of chocolate at first sip. Slightly drying. A pleasant berry aftertaste enhanced the initial questionable odor. Uncomplicated. Good and fruity. Unpretentious.
3. Mitolo (2006) Jester, McLaren Vale, Cabernet Sauvignon (AUS). (14.5% alc., Source: HyVee, Cost: ~$18).
Almost black in appearance, this deeply saturated Australian wine suggested its high alcohol content by showing off long-lasting legs. Aromas of clove along with red and black berries were quite pleasant. Enjoyable long lasting flavors of raspberry, black pepper, earthy – forest floor, light wafts of smoke, and a hint of vanilla competed with aggressive tannins. A keeper. Keep it in the cellar and hope the tannins tame a bit!
Post Tasting Notes: Going into this tasting we all (the four of us) were optimistic and eager; however, unlike the terrific Pinot Noir tasting the three Cabernet’s left us puzzled and unable to agree upon a favorite. All the wines were okay – even the one that initially reminded me of a pulp-mill town – but none of the Cab’s invigorated us like the Pinot’s did. I’ll have to re-taste the Columbia Crest (H3) again because only a few weeks ago I was absolutely thrilled with a bottle I sampled.