*Straight out of the bottle: First tastes straight out of the bottle indicates that it needs some time to open up. This red table wine is pretty earthy with hints of red fruit, berries, and tobacco. It does have a nice dry finish which complemented the earthy tones.
*Decanted (For about an hour): With some time, this wine opened up and toned down quite a bit. While it kept its earthy qualities, it added new flavors of vanilla and ripe berries which was a nice touch. The wine itself is medium bodied and carries a slight acidity that isn’t too overpowering. The tannins have matured which make this wine very easy drinking.
Raw Score: 82 Handicap Score (Compared to other wines and varietals in its price range $50): 70
For the price point of this wine, I will definitely say there are quite a variety of great wines to enjoy. This wine, however, wasn’t our favorite, but it’s always good to branch out and try new wines.
Pairing: We paired this wine with a grilled filet, and unfortunately this wine did not complement the meal at all. I think if you wanted to pair this wine, I would recommend a nice cut of lamb or a poultry dish.
This Patriota is 60% Bonarda, 40% Malbec.
*Straight out of the bottle: Even though this wine is only 40% Malbec, it transcends classic varietal characteristics. It was surprisingly very earthy with a unusual mineral undertone that was consistent throughout the palate. It is a bigger wine carrying a medium-to-fuller body. It also started slightly fruit forward with subtle hints of red fruit mixed with chocolate, transcended into a nice buttery middle and finished on the drier side. The tannins in this vintage are perfectly aged and well-balanced, which adds to the smooth finish and nice structure throughout.
While it was enjoyable to experience this wine, there are better traditional malbecs within this price point.
Raw Score: 80 Handicap Score (Compared to other wines and varietals in its price range $18): 75
Pairing: We paired this wine with a grilled new york strip steak and fresh vegetables – and it paired perfectly. With the characteristics of this wine, it would pair well with grilled beef and pork meats.
*Straight out of the bottle: This is another fantastic cabernet sauvignon put of by Louis Martini! It starts off very fruit forward on the palate with hints of lush, ripe cherries and blackberry leads into new flavors of vanilla , while ending with a smooth dry, oak finish. While it carries more of a medium body, it makes up for the lack of power with perfectly aged, velvety tannins that adds structure and a quality to the wine – making it super enjoyable to drink!
We chose to drink this wine as it was, straight out of the bottle – since it was drinking very nice.
Raw Score: 90 Handicap Score (Compared to other wines and varietals in its price range $25): 93
Verso Cellars has a great Colorado Cabernet Sauvignon that they released in vintages of 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006.
*Straight out of the bottle: The 2003 Colorado Cabernet Sauvignon is a great release from Verso Cellars. This cabernet is medium to full bodied and is in alignment with the varietal characteristics. It starts off very fruit forward with subtle hints of lush, dark fruit which leads into an almost jammy undertone and finishes dry with flavors of oak, mint, and anise. This is another great, solid cabernet sauvignon coming out of Colorado!
As with pervious experiences with this wine, we prefer to drink it straight out of the bottle.
Raw Score: 82 Handicap Score (Compared to other wines and varietals in its price range $20): 80
Cline has some pretty solid zinfandels that they produce.
*Straight out of the bottle: First tastes, instantly tells us that this wine is a pretty solid and well-made zinfandel. It starts out more fruit forward and leads into the characteristic zinfandel jammy and spicy finish. It was, however, a little more acidic on the front – more so than we would have liked to experience in a zinfandel. The structure and body was consistent throughout and with time in the glass, opened up to new flavors of chocolate, mint, and rich espresso.
Raw Score: 80 Handicap Score (Compared to other wines and varietals in its price range $38): 80
There are a lot better zinfandels on the market more in alignment with the varietal characteristics just under this price point. It was enjoyable to experience and try this wine, however, there are better zinfandels out there for the money.
*Straight out of the bottle: This is another great wine put out by the great Louis Martini. Carrying a medium-to-full body, this cabernet sauvignon is in perfect alignment with everything we enjoy in a cab. It is on the drier side and offers a nice structure and body that can sometimes be hard to find in this price point (Under $20). Flavors of dark fruit on the front lead way into tobacco and oak on the back. This is a great, solid cab.
Raw Score: 84 Handicap Score (Compared to other wines and varietals in its price range $16): 90
Black Stallion is another boutique winery coming out of Napa that is gaining some momentum in the wine world.
*Straight out of the bottle: The 2008 cabernet sauvignon recently released from Black Stallion is a great find at the local liquor store! This wine is in alignment with its varietal characteristics, carrying a bigger, full body. It starts on the palate with bright, red fruit and almost slightly sweet on the front. Towards the back of the palate, the wine changes completely with new tones of leather, mint, oak, tobacco, anise that lead into a nice, dry finish.
We chose to decant this wine.
*Decanted (for about an hour): With time, this wine mellowed out quite a bit. It did keep much of the same flavors and fuller body, it lost the defining line in the palate that offered what was an enjoyable transition from being fruit forward and leading into a dry finish. While it was still enjoyable, we preferred this wine straight out of the bottle.
Raw Score: 87 Handicap Score (Compared to other wines and varietals in its price range $20): 93
*A great steal for a nice, full-bodied cabernet sauvignon around the $20 price-range.
Another fantastic, quality wine from Salvestrin!
*Straight out of the bottle: This cabernet sauvignon is a perfect match in alignment with classic varietal characteristics. Hints of lush red fruit including cherry and fresh, ripe cranberries transition on the palate into fresh sprigs of mint and anise, which ends with a nice, dry oaky finish that lingers on and on.
We chose to decant this wine as it seemed like it could use some more time to soften and open up.
*Decanted (for about an hour): With time, this wine became even more fantastic! The wine softened up quite a bit, allowing the tannins to mellow down. While this wine kept its nice, dry finish, it transformed into becoming more fruit forward and added a nice ‘juicy’ quality that was very refreshing. For an estate cab, this wine definitely is competing with some of the other wineries reserves and is just as good (if not better) in our opinion.
Raw Score: 90 Handicap Score (Compared to other wines and varietals in its price range $60): 89
Pairing: We paired this cabernet with a black peppered filet and grilled asparagus. The strong cabernet varietal characteristics helped add to the enjoyment of the meal by complementing the peppery steak tones.
*Straight out of the bottle: This is a pretty decent zinfandel straight out of the bottle. On the front part of the palate this wine starts with a subtle sweetness. As the wine moves towards the back of the palate, it gains some momentum, finishing with a little spice and ‘kick’. While this zinfandel lacks a bigger body, it is well balanced and provides a consistent tone on the palate throughout. It doesn’t carry a lot of depth or character, but for the price point, this is a great everyday drinking zinfandel.
I (Tyler), rated it a little lower, as it is not as jammy as I would like to see in a zinfandel. It is still a great wine, however, it is not as aligned with the varietal characteristics you would traditionally see in a good zinfandel.
Raw Score: Tyler: 78 Jared: 83 Handicap Score (Compared to other wines and varietals in its price range $13): Tyler: 88 Jared: 90
*Straight out of the bottle: For the price point, Cable Car Cellars has put out some great cabernet sauvignon in its past vintages. For the 2010 varietal, however, we cannot say the same thing about some of the its predecessors.
First tastes instantly tells us that this vintage isn’t as big or strong as the varietal characteristics I would have liked to have seen. It is a lighter-to-medium bodied cabernet sauvignon with subtle hints of black cherry, red fruit, and spices. It does not have a lot of structure as seen in some of the more expensive cabs, however, for the price point you can’t expect too much. It does have a nice dry finish that is more in alignment a traditional cab.
Not a bad wine, but also not a wine we would open up for a special occasion.
Raw Score: 70 Handicap Score (Compared to other wines and varietals in its price range $9): 86