Straight Out Of the Bottle: It is clear that the 2008 Reverie Cabernet Sauvignon needs a little time to open up. This wine is complex with notes of chocolate, raspberry, oak, and anise. While, the tannins were a bit robust straight out of the bottle, our hopes are that they will hopefully mellow with a little time in the decanter. This vintage may also benefit from a little more time in the cellar but it is drinking well right now.
Decanting (1-1.5 hours): With time this wine opened up into a fantastic cab! True to the varietal, this Cabernet Sauvignon is on the bigger side with nice notes of dark red fruit, oak, and a hint of cracked black pepper. A nice surprise coming out of this vintage is a strong jammy note of fresh raspberries mixed with melted milk chocolate. The oak characteristic mellowed out quite a bit and is now melding perfectly with the other notes. Overall, we are extremely pleased with this wine! While it is on the pricier side, if you get a chance to enjoy the 2008, it is definitely worth it!
Handicap ($77): 95
For those of you not familiar with Orin Swift and his wines, the Papillon is one of my personal favorites. French for butterfly, this wine is as beautiful and intriguing as the name suggests.
It is a BIG, red blend and thusly will need some time to open up in a decanter – about one hour is ideal. Without decanting this wine is nice but falls short of its potential.
After decanting this wine is well balanced and full bodied. The tannins are velvety across the palate. On the front this wine gives strong notes of grape, followed by vanilla and a hint of cream. The back is dry with oak, nutmeg, and raisin. The finish is very strong and lingers on the palate long after each sip.
Orin Swift’s 2008 Papillion lives up to its reputation and is certainly on par with previous vintages. This is a great wine to break out on a special occasion or when you need something that will impress an educated wino.
Handicap ($50): 92
Good value for the price.
Immediately out of the bottle, we decided that this wine needed a little time to oxidize and mellow out. The tannins were pretty rough, making this wine abrasive and not very approachable.
With some time in the decanter (~30 min), it became a simple, fruit forward Cabernet Sauvignon. There wasn’t a lot of interesting features with this wine, but the tannic structure after mellowing out in the decanter, became smooth and enjoyable.
While it was a simple wine with not a lot of depth or character, it is a great wine to enjoy when you don’t want to spend a lot of money on a bottle.
Handicap ($11): 90
For cheap wine, this is a definite repeat!
2008 Five H Syrah from Seven Hills Vineyard
Walla Walla Valley
Very interesting wine straight out if the bottle. Immediately on the palate you get a burst of bright red fruit, specifically raspberry – very jammy. This leads into subtle flavors of milk chocolate and a hint of cream. The mild, mature tannins add a bit of maturity and help balance out the mild acidity. Surprisingly, this wine has a dry, sharp finish with some mild notes of leather and maybe a hint of oak.
While this is not your traditional black-pepper Syrah, it is a fantastic drinkable and approachable wine!
Handicap ($15): 91
For the value, this wine is fantastic!
This Bordeaux blend is a nice surprise to come from Sawyer Cellars.
Straight out of the bottle this wine carried a nice medium body with drinkable characteristics of bright red fruit that leads into lush, dark fruit. Subtle undertones of vanilla, oak and anise lead into hints of tobacco and leather. For the price, this wine is definitely a steal!
Handicap ($20): 90
*Straight out of the bottle: First tastes instantly tells us that this wine is extremely powerful and needs time to open up; super complex.
We chose to decant this wine as per recommendations from the winemakers.
*Decanted (for about an hour and a half): With time, we couldn’t believe how phenomenal this wine opened up into! It was full bodied, hitting the varietal characteristics spot on for a true cabernet sauvignon! Indeed, this is an extremely BIG, BOLD, and MASCULINE wine that will knock the socks off any cultured wine drinker. Flavors of ripe and juicy dark fruit led into notes of espresso, annice, mint, dark chocolate, berries, vanilla, and oak. I couldn’t have asked more from a wine that continued to open up and change as the evening continued. Towards the back of the palate, we got the traditional Salvestrin finish that stays with you FOREVER! If you get the chance to try this amazing wine, it is OMG so worth it!
Raw Score: 97+ Handicap Score (Compared to other wines and varietals in its price range $130): 97
*Straight out of the bottle: This is a classic, medium-bodied, well balanced zinfandel. Carrying the quality jammy characteristics, this fruit forward wine is an easy drinker. It added in nice qualities of ripe, dark fruit on the front that carried a “juicy”, lush feeling in the mouth. Hints of cinnamon added to the mystery and enjoyment of this wine. It also carries a sweeter finish than other zinfandels, but blended together very nicely and didn’t seem overly sweet.
Raw Score: 87 Handicap Score (Compared to other wines and varietals in its price range $15): 90
We chose to decant this wine as per recommended by the winemakers.
*Decanted (for about an hour): The Clio is always a fantastic, solid cabernet sauvignon blend coming out of Spain. With time in the decanter, the tight complexities opened up and transformed into an AMAZING and very delicious wine. This heavy hitter, powerful wine is very big, masculine, and proves to deliver over and over again with each new vintage. This year in particular kept its solid cabernet sauvignon varietal characteristics starting out with nice ripe, dark fruit that leads into a perfectly balance jammy middle. These flavors lead into oak, mint, black licorice, cream de cassis, and vanilla. Time in the decanter allowed for the tannins to soften up quite a bit and take on a nice, velvety texture.
For the price, this wine will beat out several $100+ bottles in the same category!
Raw Score: 94 Handicap Score (Compared to other wines and varietals in its price range $40): 95
*Straight out of the bottle: This is a tasty merlot coming out of the Napa Valley. Very straight on with varietal characteristics displaying the classic jammy, bigger, and bolder red. This wine stands out as a diamond in the rough on many aspects; flavor, price, and quality. It carries a nice spicy and jammy, fruit-forard front, which leads into nice tones of leather, tobacco and oak. It also has nice, mellow and mature tannins which assist in a smooth, dry finish. I would recommend this wine any day of the week for both the price and the quality.
Raw Score: 89 Handicap Score (Compared to other wines and varietals in its price range $18): 94
We chose to decant this wine as per recommended by the winemakers.
*Decanted (for about an hour): First tastes solidifies any notion that Salvestrin is making a great cabernet sauvignon! This 2007 estate cab is one of the best wines we have tried in a while and we couldn’t expect more. It is the textbook definition of what the varietal should taste like – it is a BIG, strong, powerful wine that is very fruit forward, transitioning to a jammy middle with hints of cream de cassis and vanilla bean, and finishing with oak, mint, and anise – and just a subtle hint of cocoa. The velvety tannins add to the structure and complexity of the wine making it very enjoyable to drink.
Raw Score: 94 Handicap Score (Compared to other wines and varietals in its price range $50): 94
*For those of you who can get your hands on Salvestrin’s wines, this is fantastic!
*Food Pairing: We paired this great wine with a bacon-wrapped black pepper filet and grilled asparagus. This powerful cabernet sauvignon really added to the enjoyment of the meal by complementing the peppery and meatiness of the steak and the rich and saltiness of the bacon. Enjoy!