Monday, July 18, 2005

Cabs of the World

It has been nearly two years since our wine group's first tasting. And while that first tasting was a Cabernet tasting, it was nothing like this. This was also our first tasting away from my house - many thanks to the hosts for laying out such a fine spread!

In addition to a feast that would make a Roman emperor blush, the wines were extraordinary - even the 'warm-up wine' was over the top! On the whole, everyone's ratings were very consistent - not quite consensus, but perhaps the closest ever. And California dominated this grape tonight:

First: 1996 BV Georges de Latour
Cosme's Beaulieu was a clear winner - eight first place and two second place rankings. I loved this wine, but I was off consensus with my second place ranking. I felt that the pleasant nose hat lots of interesting, subtle aromas - violet, strawberry, some mint and spice, with a subtle gaminess. Very nice. I was (slightly) disappointed by the taste - I expected that the lovely nose of this wine would translate to WOW in my mouth, but I was disappointed with the taste - very agreeable, but not WOW, and maybe a bit off balance in my opinion (splitting hairs). It may be hard to find this wine, but I found it for US$70 on the web.

Second: 2001 Staglin Cabernet Sauvignon
Lloyd's Staglin was very consistent as well - two firsts and eight second place rankings. I was one of those ranking it first - I described the nose as "absolutely lovely", bursting with aromas of violet, mint, dark berries, oak, truffles, and animal/earthy smells. And the taste did not disappoint - dry, with firm tannins, and medium to full bodied. The only defect I found was that it was a bit 'hot', with the alcohol showing a bit too much (a frequent problem with Californian and Australian wines...). This will get better, and I would pay a princely sum to taste this again - I found it on the internet for US$115.

Third: 1998 'Paleo' Bolgheri Rossi Superiore (Le Macchiole)
Lloyd's Italian Cabernet also scored well - one second place, four third place, three fourth place and one fifth place ranking. I was more generous than most of you - I described the nose as pleasant, earthy and quite interesting, with scents of pine, truffle, leather, tea, hazelnut and a bit pruney. Tasted great, well balanced, this one is peaking. Drink now. $80

Fourth: 2001 Catena Alta Cabernet Sauvignon
Cam brought this Argentinian (with a little help from me) cab from a very well regarded winery. Unfortunately, my rating is off consensus - I rated it last. I described the nose as pleasant but not complex, and I found it very harsh. I wrote that it needs more time in the cellar to soften up, but it won't get much better. Only C$49.

Fifth: 1999 Yalumba "The Menzies"
Despite a decent Parker rating, Pramod's "The Menzies" did not fare well. Pramod and Rebecca liked this best, and I ranked it fourth. Anyway, on the nose it was interesting but not complex. I found it a little unbalanced - heavy on the oak. It seemed to have some potential - maybe a few more years in the bottle? C$44

Sixth: 1999 Concha y Toro "Don Melchor"
While there was some debate, this bottle was likely corked (I noted a strong odour of ammonia!). WS rated this a 92 and RP rated it a 93, so it should have shown better. I have two more bottles in my cellar - I will retaste in the future.


You get what you pay for? Price followed our ratings very closely. The closest thing to a 'value' was Cam's Catena. Interesting that no one tried to sneak in a Bordeaux...