Happy Winesday: California Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon

BY RAY ISLE

CLASSICS

2001 Beringer Private Reserve ($100) Beringer’s top bottling, a blend of fruit from six different Napa vineyards, has been a benchmark for California Cabernet since “winemaster” Ed Sbragia made its inaugural vintage, back in 1977. The black currant–packed ’01 effortlessly carries on that tradition, and should age gracefully in a cellar for many years to come.

2002 Quintessa ($120) Biodynamic viticulture and meticulous attention in the cellar from winemaker Aaron Pott have helped make Quintessa, a Bordeaux-style blend of Cabernet, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, one of California’s top reds. The polished ’02, saturated with smoky black plum and black currant flavors, may be the most impressive Quintessa produced to date.

2002 Diamond Creek Gravelly Meadow ($175) Visionary owner Al Brounstein started bottling Napa Cabernets from specific terroirs on his Diamond Mountain property as early as 1972. Gravelly Meadow, a cool, stony five-acre plot, produced this refined, ageworthy bottling with a compelling scent of anise and red cherries.

$20 AND UNDER

2003 Geyser Peak Alexander Valley ($18) With 220 acres of vineyards in Sonoma’s Alexander Valley, Geyser Peak winemaker Mick Schroeter can be ruthlessly selective about which grapes go into this firm, cassis-rich Cabernet. Aging in American oak barrels gives it additional notes of cedar and chocolate.

2004 Hahn Estates ($12) Winemaker Adam LaZarre sources two Paso Robles vineyards and one in the Santa Lucia Highlands for this chewy, generous Central Coast Cabernet. It’s straightforward and juicy, with spicy hints of French oak backing the sweet black fruit.

Beringer Vineyards2002 Benziger Family Winery ($19) Dense black cherry flavor and green peppercorn notes define this substantial red, made from fruit sourced from low-yielding benchland and mountain Sonoma County vineyards.

 

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