On the night of the great VP debates, the Imbibe Wine Club met to sample some 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon from California. We had three from the Napa/Sonoma region, and one from Carmel Valley in Central Coast. With the intention of focusing on tasting notes until Sarah Palin’s face appeared (warranting belligerent screams from our crowd of four), we did just that, fueling our ire with a nice selection of hearty American wines.
We began with St. Francis from Sonoma, purchased at Astor Wine & Spirits for $21.99. Garnet in color with red fruits, mushroom, and eucalyptus aromas, this Cabernet possessed medium acidity and smooth tannins, which I just learned in my WSET wine class is the result of not age, but treatment (where the tannins are actually removed), because apparently, most Americans do not like tannic wines.
Moving onto Napa, home to over 370 wineries, we uncorked a bottle of William Hill Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, 2004 (found at Crossroads for $24.99). Full of blackberry and mushroom with a touch of molasses on the nose, the William Hill was also slightly herbacious (cilantro) with raisin and spice–a smooth wine with tannins that kicked in at the end.
For our last stop in Napa, we visited Louis M. Martini, who specializes in Cabernet Sauvignon and has been producing wine since 1933. Ruby hued, the 2004 Martini showed ripe cherry and plum, with oak and spice. Quite smooth and with fewer tannins, this wine was less opaque than the others and brighter on the palate with a higher acidity.
From Carmel Valley, Heller Estate produces 100% organic wines, including the Cachagua Cabernet Sauvignon (for $19.99 at Union Sq. Wines). Ruby and opaque, the Heller Estate possessed less fruit on the nose, with mushroom and eucalyptus as the more dominant aromas. Fruit forward (black berries) and round, the wine transitioned smoothly between fruit and spice.
With the tasting complete, there was nothing left to do but drown our horrors while watching Palin avoid all questions asked with a crack-pipe wink.