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Napa Cab Tasting at Chateau Montelena

2009 November 19
by Eric Hwang

At Ch. Montelena

Yesterday at Chateau Montelena, my friend, Rick Bakas, organized a tasting of current vintages of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon priced under $50. Turnout was great with about 20 people from nearly 15 wineries in attendance. It was a great opportunity to meet and network with other social marketing folks, as well as drink some great wines from one of the premier Cab producing regions in the world. We drank wine, tweeted, blogged and generally geeked out on our laptops, iPhones and Blackberries.

Since I work at Vintage Wine Estates, you’d think I would have lots of choices for Napa Cabs priced below $50, but actually most of our Cabs are premium vineyard designated and priced in the $60 – $75 range, so in the end I brought just three bottles, our 2005 StoneFly Cabernet Sauvignon Carnevale Vineyards, the 2006 Girard Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley, and a 2006 Windsor Vineyards Platinum Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley. While the StoneFly and Windsor were both well received, the Girard seemed to be a definite hit.

It was unfortunate that some people still believe that Windsor Vineyards wines are bulk wines. In reality, all of the Windsor Vineyards Cabernets are produced by our own winery and grown either by our own vineyards or vineyards in California with whom we have a long-standing relationship—none is from bulk wine.

That’s okay; it just means there was more for me later. Nonetheless, there was a lot of good wine that flowed that afternoon. All were from Napa and currently available. Here are a few of them along with my first impressions of them:

2007 Crushpad “Bailout” Cabernet Sauvignon: fruit-forward, dark cherry flavors, smooth easy finish. (@crushpad)

2006 Flora Springs Cabernet Sauvignon: a little tobacco and anise on the nose with flavors of blackberry and cherry and smooth finish. (@flora_springs, Brittany)

2006 Raymond Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve: aromas of leather and earth, complex dark fruit flavors with cocoa and soft tannins. Nicely balanced. I liked this wine a lot. (@raymondwine, Mitsy)

2005 St. Supéry Cabernet Sauvignon: licorice and cherry aromas with cassis flavors and firm tannins. (@stsupery)

2006 Prime Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon: aromas of espresso with flavors of tart cherry and raspberry with a firm minerally finish. (@primecellars, Ted Henry – owner and winemaker)

2005 Judds Hill Cabernet Sauvignon: aromas of dark chocolate and cherry, flavors of blackberry and cherry with firm tannins, (@djvino @juddshill)

2006 V. Sattui Preston Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon: aromas of currant & blueberry, big flavors of dried fig & black currant, supple well-integrated tannins and good balance. Another favorite of mine, although I liked the V. Sattui Morisoli Vineyards Cab better. (@danicasattui @vsattui)

2006 Cakebread Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon: a little closed at first, but then dried cherry aromas, flavors of raspberry, cherry and a touch of cocoa with firm tannins. (@CakebreadWines, Chris)

2006 Titus Cabernet Sauvignon: aromas of blueberry, vanilla, soft tannins. Reminiscent of a Silver Oak. I liked this one too. (@cork_dork, Christophe)

2005 Signorello Estate Cabernet Sauvignon: coffee & dark cherry aromas, blackberry and tobacco flavors, firm tannins. (@sigvin)

2005 StoneFly Cabernet Sauvignon: aromas of dried cherry and allspice, flavors of currant and spice, silky tannins. (@StoneFlyWines)

2006 Girard Cabernet Sauvignon: on the nose, blueberry and chocolate, layered flavors of mocha and blackberry with soft tannins. I enjoyed this one. (@GirardWinery)

2006 Windsor Platinum Cabernet Sauvignon: mocha and black fruit aromas, raspberry and spice on the palate, mild tannins. (@VintageWineLife)

2006 Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon, aromas of cola and plum, lighter body with flavors of fruity, bright cherry and anise, soft tannins on the finish. (@camparry)

2005 Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon: on the nose, anise & pencil shavings, on the palate, blueberry, cherry and a hint of spice.

By this point, I was getting palate fatigue so it was good that I had another hour until my next event: Popeye’s Chicken Online Wine Pairing.

I must thank the good folks at Chateau Montelena for hosting this event and to Rick Bakas for organizing it, but most of all to everyone who brought and shared their wonderful wines.

If you’d like to see the other bottles and some more photos of the gang, check out my Flickr set.

Copyright © 2009, Eric Hwang and Bricks of Wine. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Eric Hwang and Bricks of Wine with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

9 Responses leave one →
  1. November 20, 2009

    Eric…nice article…doubt it was intended but an article from the St. Helena Star hit the google alerts today about the unsold wine in Napa.

    Good wine is good wine…and great wine is precious…I know that SVB just released report has given the Valleys a bit of free air but the challenges remain…letting people see that there are quality wines that are affordable is important…makes me wish I were there!

  2. Mitzi Inglis permalink
    November 20, 2009

    Great meeting you Eric. Hopefully we will all get together again soon for another Tweetup!

  3. November 20, 2009

    Eric- Your photos are extremely impressive, its rather unusual to see such high quality images in a blog post. Nice work!

  4. Eric Hwang permalink*
    November 22, 2009

    Thanks, I guess I’m just a high-quality kinda guy. 😉

  5. December 4, 2009

    Great Article Eric. You and Rick did a magnificent job promoting this event. I hope that I can lend a hand when I’m back in Napa. I’m a big fan of the Cakebread Cabernet Sauvignon. I first tried it up in Utah on a commercial shoot and actually had a glass with Karen Cakebread who was managing the resort I was staying at. The Stonefly Cabernet sounds like it’s right up my alley. Hope to try it the next time I’m in town. Cheers to you both!

  6. Eric Hwang permalink*
    December 5, 2009

    You are welcome anytime to stop by and taste wine with me. I’ll crack open anything I have access to that you want to try. I just had some of the Cakebread Syrah and thoroughly enjoyed it. Seems that’s one of those varietals that the wineries of WVE isn’t really known for, but that’s okay. With so many great Syrah producers in CA and WA, I don’t think I’ll ever be without.

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