Quick Sip on a Wednesday with the 2006 Elizabeth Spencer Cabernet Sauvignon

2006 Elizabeth Spencer Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

Wine Information –

Appellation: Napa Valley

Sub-Appellations: St. Helena, Howell Mountain, Yountville, Oakville, Rutherford, and Mt. Veeder

Grapes: 82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc

Cooperage: 20 months in 100% French Oak

Price: $32

My Tasting Notes –

Nose: boysenberry, black currant jam, roasted meat, brown sugar and suede

Taste: blackberry, sweet cedar, eucalyptus, mocha, black currant

Mouthfeel: full body, leathery to dusty tannins, just a bit spicy

Finish: long and tight – black currant flavors dominating the finish

The Cab was very good and I have enjoyed almost all of the Elizabeth Spencer wines I’ve tasted. The 2006 Napa Cab is still young though it is does taste good now. The structure just needs a little more time to balance out, as it is still a little rough around the edges.


Categories: $30-$40, cabernet, napa, wine review | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Drinking extremely well – 1999 B.R. Cohn Olive Hill Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

Once again my job as store manager of a wine shop has provided me the opportunity to taste some fabulous wine. About a week ago, we opened up the 1999 B.R. Cohn Olive Hill Estate Cabernet Sauvignon ($96) to see how it was drinking. Well, I am here to say that it is drinking extremely well right now, as it should I guess for almost 100 bones!

B.R. Cohn was founded by Bruce Cohn, who was road manager for the Doobie Brothers and is located in Glen Ellen, California in the heart of Sonoma County. The Olive Hill Estate Cab is their premium released wine and thus their most expensive.

Soils warmed by underground natural hot springs combined with warm days and nights cooled by gentle coastal breezes, work together to create a unique microclimate resulting in ideal growing conditions for Cabernet Sauvignon.

For more detailed information on the Olive Hill Estate Vineyard check out this excellent PDF –

Also B.R. Cohn has a great PR video on their website and YouTube, check it out below.

Not a whole lot of production information on the wine other than that it spent 18 months in French Oak barrels and that it is 13% alcohol.

1999bRCohnOliveHillMy Tasting Notes –

Nose: mocha, smoke, brown sugar, blackberry and black cherry

Taste: cedar, hints of menthol, cassis, black currant, tobacco and oak

Mouthfeel: full and leathery mid-palate, leathery yet fine grained tannins

Finish: long and long, with hints of dark fruit and leather notes

This wine was killing it, and kept getting better and better revealing more and more flavor notes. I feel it is at it’s prime, but with the structure and fruit that the wine exhibited it will still be going for another few years. Of course I always have a hard time paying $100 for a wine, but this wine is extremely well balanced, structured, elegant yet powerful and already aged for ya. If you can find a bottle and want a great wine for a special occasion, pick it up.


Categories: $40+, cabernet, sonoma, wine review | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Tuesday Quick Sip – Krupp Brothers 2003 Veraison Cabernet Sauvignon

2003 Krupp Brothers Veraison Cabernet Sauvignon

Wine Info –

Appellation: Napa, Oakville

Vineyard: Stage Coach, Southside of Pritchard Hill

Grapes: 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot, 3% Malbec, 1% Cabernet


Cooperage: 18 months in Taransaud French Oak barrels

Price: ~$65

2003veraisonMy Tasting Notes –

Nose: chocolate, blackberry, cassis, leather

Taste: huge juicy fruit, lots of chocolate, blackberry, toasty oak, brown spice and toasty oak

Mouthfeel: full body with big well developed velvety tannins

Finish: very long with concentrated dark fruit flavors

This is a big boy California Cab. The fruit is right up front on the aromatics as well as on the palate, but is very rich and not “juicy juice”. The chocolate overtones compliment the black fruit flavors and the splash of toasty oak very nicely and the years have been kind to the tannins that are rounded out nicely. Not cheap in the slightest but would be a nice treat for a Saturday night!


Categories: $40+, cabernet, wine review | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

A good wine, but a bit of a let down.

The 2004 Longview Block 11 Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the high end wines from Longview winery. For the most part, Longview wines stay under the $20 mark and offer some good value from Australia. The Block 11 Cabernet from 2004 however was $45 and when I tasted it a year and half ago, was happy to buy 2 bottles from the tiny allocation that came to the local wine shop. After drinking one of the two bottles the other night, I was rethinking spending that much money on the aforementioned wine. Now don’t get me wrong this was still a kicking Cab, but I am sorry to say it may be on the back side of it’s peak. Or I could be totally wrong, or it could be in a slightly “dumb” stage as “they” say, but it definitely wasn’t the power house it was almost 2 years ago. Now what it was was a super polished, elegant Cab with upfront rich fruit flavors layered with leather and brown spice but the tannins just sort of gave up in the end. I would hate to think that this bottle was past it’s prime being that it was only bottled in 2006 and for the fact that I have another bottle that I wanted to see develop for another 2 years’ish.

About the wine (from the winemaker)

Each year before vintage we carefully assess the vineyard with Christian Canute and select the best fruit and in 2004 this was the BLOCK 11 Cabernet Sauvignon. When these grapes have achieved optimum physical ripeness, they are hand picked and bunch selected before traditional vinification. Bunches are gently de-stemmed into small open vats allowing fermentation of whole berries, thus avoiding overextraction of the fruit. The wine spends a week on skins before gently basket pressing to complete fermentation in wood. This wine has been matured for 24 months. The pressings in puncheons and the free run in one large French oak vat – the revisiting of a great Australian tradition. The wine is unfined and unfiltered to ensure that all the flavours we have gone out of our way to preserve are there in each precious bottle.”

longviewblock11My Tasting Notes –

Nose – raisin, plum, brambly blackberry and leather

Taste – brown spice, boysenberry and raspberry

Mouthfeel – full bodied with polished velvety tannins

Finish – smooth with a hint of spiciness and flavors of cherry and tomato

I guess part of my disappointment with the wine is that I had had such high hopes after tasting it and laying down 2 bottles, but as I said and as you can see from notes, this was still a good Cabernet. Not that you could find a bottle on shelves anywhere but I am curious if any of you in the wine blogosphere have had a bottle of this recently and have tasted it in the past. If so, shoot me your thoughts, I would love to hear them. Additionally, do you think I should open the other bottle soon, or hang on and hope it continues to improve? I am leaning towards the open it soon, only for the fact that if the tannins are already fading away, they aren’t going to regenerate in the bottle.


Categories: $40+, cabernet, wine review | Leave a comment

Tuesday Quick Sip: 2005 Cartlidge & Browne Cabernet Sauvignon – Snow Lake Vineyard, Red Hills Lake County

Wine Info

Appellation – Red Hills, Lake County

Vineyard – Snow Lake

Grape – 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, clone 337 and 15

Aging – 60% American, 40% French for 17 months

Price – $23

2005cbcabernetlakecountyMy Tasting Notes

Color – deep garnet

Nose – black tea, boysenberry, cherry, toast, caramel

Taste – cedar, cassis, oak, blackberry, cherry, vanilla

Mouthfeel – slightly spicy with full roundness leading to leathery tannins

Finish – long and dusty

For a solid Cab in the $20 – $25 range this one definitely fits the bill. Classic Cab flavors and a big full body with well structured but not overpowering tannins. We had the 2005 Cartlidge & Browne Cabernet with a rich “green and white” lasagna and it paired very well.


Categories: $20-$30, cabernet, wine review | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

A Slight Disappointment

Christmas day was spent at my parent’s house, and was a fun day of present opening and over eating. Even though my parents bought plenty of wine, and told me not to bring any, you know I couldn’t show up empty handed. So we took over some Pedroncelli Chardonnay and a bottle of the 2001 Grgich Hills Cab that has been in the cellar since our first trip to Napa 3 years ago that we had really been wanting to drink. We stuck to reds all day so the Chardonnay didn’t get opened, but we did open the Grgich for dinner.

Grgich was the first winery that we visited our first day in Napa, and we were thrilled with the experience and psyched about the wines that we tasted and thus bought a few while we were there. My prior enjoyment with the Grgich winery and all of their wines, my appreciation for all that Mike Grigich has done and a price tag of $55 could have helped in my disappointment (although it small) in this wine.

I didn’t take any notes for the wine, so this isn’t going to be as formal a review as I have done in the past. The Grgich cab was unfortunately pretty one dimensional, with a lot of dark fruit aromas and flavors on the nose and palette. It did have a really nice weight in the mouth, and was really silky smooth but too smooth. The tannins were non existent and thus the wine didn’t have much of a back bone.

I think the frame of reference of a 55 dollar price tag contributed the most to my disappointment, as if this was a $15 Cab I don’t think I would have critiqued it so hard. But also, I really have had a lot of good wines from Grgich in the past so this won’t deter me from buying more $55 wines from them in the future.

If you are in Napa or planning a visit, I recommend you take a trip to the Grigich tasting room and sample what they have to offer, I don’t think you will be disappointed. Make sure to keep a look out for Mike Grgich himself, sporting his black beret, he would be happy to chat with you as he was with Megan and I.

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Categories: cabernet, grgich, wine review | 3 Comments

Wine Tasting – 2004 Seventy Five, Amber Knolls Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon


picked this up from the Wine Cellar about a month or two ago, just wanting to pick up a real good “everyday” Cab for the wine stock at home. I had heard great things about the wine, and these were confirmed by my favorite Wine Cellar employee Hunter who had just tasted the wine recently. I was a bit skeptical though because Mr. Wine Library himself, who I love, had knocked the wine down a few notches a couple of months prior on his video blog. He still thought it was a good Cab, just not worthy of the 90+ point ratings that it was carrying around. (click here for that episode) But as Gary will tell you, he is giving his opinion based on what he likes and dislikes, so take it with a grain of salt.

A bit of background on the wine:

 From the 75wine website –

“This hand-selected, hand crafted vineyard designated Cabernet Sauvignon hails from the Amber Knolls Vineyard. The Beckstoffer family purchased this property in the late 1990’s after determining that the soils and microclimate were perfect for growing ultra-premium Cabernet Sauvignon Grapes. The property is showcased by its deep, red hillside soils that are heavily laced in obsidian.”

The vineyard itself sits on an East facing slope with varying altitude from 1200 to 2000 feet. The average daytime summer temperature is 84 degrees with average nighttime temps of 51 degrees, allowing for the 2004 Vintage to be harvested at 23.8 Brix.

My Tasting Notes:

Nose – Ripe blueberry, tar, and bacon

Taste – Maraschino cherry, canned artichoke hearts, espresso

Mouthfeel – very smooth with velvety tannins and medium body

Finish – Nice with a decent length and blackberry flavors lingering

I liked this wine quite a bit. I thought it to be more towards the new world style of Cabernet Sauvignon with a lot of ripe fruit coming through on the nose, but had some nice meaty aromas to balance it out.  Interesting vegetable flavor notes – I think the reason I wrote canned artichoke hearts is because the wine had a slight metallic taste to it, but not in a bad way. Not an inexpensive wine (at around $18.95), but a good middle of the week kick up a notch Cabernet.

If you have had this or have it in the future, let me know what you think

Categories: cabernet, napa, wine review, wine tasting | Leave a comment