Opinions on Silver Oak Napa Cabernet Sauvignon

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Opinions on Silver Oak Napa Cabernet Sauvignon

Postby Brian K Miller » Mon Nov 13, 2006 3:00 pm

There seems to be "hostility" towards Silver Oak Napa Cabernet among people in the know at wine shops and other wineries. I tried the (admittedly pricey) 2001 vintage at the winery, and I liked it, even though it was, again, not my usual style.

Maybe my palette is not developed enough, and I am missing something, but I didn't find the overwhelming caramel, jammy, sicky sweet that some "Big Napa Cabs" are accused of being inflicted with. At least not in the 2001. Instead, it was very smooth, rich, almost thick, with nice black fruit. No caramel notes to my palette.

Am I missing the "problem" with this wine, because I actually liked it a lot despite the difference in style from my usual????
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Re: Opinions on Silver Oak Napa Cabernet Sauvignon

Postby Hoke » Mon Nov 13, 2006 4:25 pm

I've never been a big fan of Silver Oak, Brian. Too big, to coarse, lacking in subtlety, and usually showing far too much oak for my taste.

That said, I think the Silver Oak that many people object to is in the process of changing right now. And perhaps not for the better, some say.

One of the original founding partners, Justin Meyer, was bought out by his partner. (Not too long ago, Justin passed away.) One of the reasons for the buyout was, purportedly, that the partner wanted to expand the production of Silver Oak tremendously. That expansion has started, and some say that it has lessened the quality and altered the essential style of what Silver Oak had been.

Since I could never get over the simple blackberry covered in dill pickle and coconut American oak style of SO, a change could be good. Certainly couldn't hurt. On the other hand, I'm certainly not going to pay that much to find out.

All that being said, there certainly are a lot of people who really like Silver Oak. More power to them, sez I.
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Re: Opinions on Silver Oak Napa Cabernet Sauvignon

Postby Howie Hart » Mon Nov 13, 2006 5:27 pm

Brian,
I had the pleasure of enjoying a few glasses of the 1990 Silver Oak with my dinner at this Past summer's MOCOOL. That is the only one I ever had. I liked it a lot, but I don't know how much of this stuff gets cellared that long.
My MOCOOL Weekend
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Re: Opinions on Silver Oak Napa Cabernet Sauvignon

Postby Glenn Mackles » Mon Nov 13, 2006 6:16 pm

I think one's reaction to Silver Oak depends on how much you like a subtle and delicate wine. In my experience, Silver Oak is many things but it ain't subtle. If you like a really big California red that is well made with with lots fruit and oak tastes made for drinking with a big steak, then you may like Silver Oak. I have friends, including my next door neighbor who just love it. For me, I passed through a Silver Oak phase when I was fairly new to red wines when I drank quite a bit of it. My tastes have evolved since then and I'm not quite as fond of it any more. But I think I still have a couple of bottles of it. I give one to my next door neighbor every year for Xmas and score lots of neighbor points. I last drank some about a year or so ago and I thought it wasn't as good as I remembered but that may be just my evolving tastes rather than any change in the wine... I can't tell.

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Re: Opinions on Silver Oak Napa Cabernet Sauvignon

Postby Brian K Miller » Mon Nov 13, 2006 6:27 pm

Interesting comments!

I taste the big, powerful fruit. And, it's not subtle or elegant at all. But, unlike some other heavy, fruity "caramelly/oaky" Napa Cabs, I found the richness and thickness and smoothness very lush and appealing.

This is a big production wine (30,000 cases now), so it's not a boutique winery at all.

I usually do prefer the more complex, Old World style-more savoryness, more herbs of say, a Conn Creek Anthology or an austere Corison (yet another, different "style") or my new faves, Elizabeth Spencer and Chateau Boswell.

Is my taste REGRESSING now for still liking this wine-or Showkett, for that matter-which is another big fruit forward (but not caramelly sticky sweet) cab that I also really liked?

Help! I'm going "backwards" :lol:
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Re: Opinions on Silver Oak Napa Cabernet Sauvignon

Postby Hoke » Mon Nov 13, 2006 7:32 pm

Regressing? Nah, I don't think that's it, Brian.

There should be enough room on your palate, and in your sensory brain, to like different wines in different styles for different reasons.

I'm certainly not a fancier of the overblown bludgeon style of winemaking excess, but even I like a good over-the-top blockbuster every now and then.

On the other hand, if it's guilty pleasures you need to make it resonate for you....heck, go ahead, feel guilty. :wink:
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Re: Opinions on Silver Oak Napa Cabernet Sauvignon

Postby Florida Jim » Mon Nov 13, 2006 8:20 pm

I think Glenn makes a good point but delicate or not, I hate these wines and won't drink them if served to me. The amount of oak is my main complaint as it obliterates the wines, IMO. I have had them old and young and I have never had one I wanted another sip of.
But that's just me: I am an oak-o-phobe first class, with oak (pun intended) leaf cluster and these wines are way past my limits.
As always, I understand that tastes vary and that others may enjoy the wines. And for that, I am pleased.
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Re: Opinions on Silver Oak Napa Cabernet Sauvignon

Postby Dave Erickson » Mon Nov 13, 2006 8:46 pm

We have a word we use for wines like the Silver Oak Napa (and, for that matter, the Silver Oak Alexander Valley): Oafish.

The '01s are big, dumb wines and I absolutely will not pay $100+ for them. For the same money I can get a big Barolo from a better vintage. For the same money I can get a very, very fine vintage Champagne. Hell, for the same money I can get a pretty darned good 2000 Bordeaux.

I will, on the other hand, be more than happy to sell you one. 8)
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Re: Opinions on Silver Oak Napa Cabernet Sauvignon

Postby Brian K Miller » Mon Nov 13, 2006 9:56 pm

Well...I probably wasted my money. Maybe I was just not tasting properly that day. :oops:
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Re: Opinions on Silver Oak Napa Cabernet Sauvignon

Postby Dave Erickson » Tue Nov 14, 2006 11:23 am

Brian K Miller wrote:Well...I probably wasted my money. Maybe I was just not tasting properly that day. :oops:


Whoa! If you liked it, you liked it. Your palate is more important to you than my opinion.
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Re: Opinions on Silver Oak Napa Cabernet Sauvignon

Postby Florida Jim » Tue Nov 14, 2006 11:49 am

Dave Erickson wrote:
Brian K Miller wrote:Well...I probably wasted my money. Maybe I was just not tasting properly that day. :oops:


Whoa! If you liked it, you liked it. Your palate is more important to you than my opinion.


Amen.
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Re: Opinions on Silver Oak Napa Cabernet Sauvignon

Postby Robin Garr » Tue Nov 14, 2006 11:57 am

Brian K Miller wrote:Well...I probably wasted my money. Maybe I was just not tasting properly that day. :oops:


What the others said, Brian ... you should never feel that you have to defend your own taste buds. "Drink what you like" is the most important rule of all. :)
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Re: Opinions on Silver Oak Napa Cabernet Sauvignon

Postby Brian K Miller » Tue Nov 14, 2006 12:53 pm

I'm being somewhat facetious :) Everyone's palette does vary.

I guess what inspired the post was the degree of vituperation expressed about Silver Oak by some folks in Napa I chatted with this weekend.

I understand that wine styles vary and palettes vary, and what surprised me about this Cab (overpriced, I know) is that it was NOT my usual preference (which is savoriness and austerity and balance) yet I still really, really enjoyed it. I've had too many Napa fruit bombs which are harsh and caramelly and which I did not like. This monster fruit bomb, for some reason, I did. Maybe I do, indeed, still like fruit bombs if they are unusually smooth or (in the case of Showket) well-made?

So, there's a bit of introspection and musing going on here. How can one like both Corison and Chateau Smith-Haut-Lafite AND Silver Oak? :? :)
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Re: Opinions on Silver Oak Napa Cabernet Sauvignon

Postby Jeff Yeast » Tue Nov 14, 2006 1:17 pm

Brian K Miller wrote:So, there's a bit of introspection and musing going on here. How can one like both Corison and Chateau Smith-Haut-Lafite AND Silver Oak? :? :)


And why not? Life is too short to taste one's self into a corner. I find that I can appreciate something in almost everything I try, and I have a goal of trying just about everything out there. I enjoy big California wines, but I also enjoy more delicate French and Itallians too. They're all good, and different, and that prevents boredom at least. :D
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Re: Opinions on Silver Oak Napa Cabernet Sauvignon

Postby Robin Garr » Tue Nov 14, 2006 1:19 pm

Brian K Miller wrote:How can one like both Corison and Chateau Smith-Haut-Lafite AND Silver Oak? :? :)


You're easy? ;)

I think the between-the-lines story here, Brian, may be that a lot of wine geeks really dislike Silver Oak for reasons similar to the disproportionate disdain that many geeks have for Far Niente, and you touched on it with your reference to "overpriced." Both labels have become somewhat symbolic of conspicuous overconsumption, putting them into a similar category with, say, Rolex and Louis Vuitton and BMW: There's a perception - fair or unfair I cannot say - that the producers somehow manage to get more for their product than it's really worth, a perception that's all too easily translated into "there's a sucker born every minute."

No personal offense intended ... I should disclose that I used to go to Silver Oak every time I went to Napa. ;)
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Re: Opinions on Silver Oak Napa Cabernet Sauvignon

Postby Brian K Miller » Tue Nov 14, 2006 1:22 pm

Robin Garr wrote:
Brian K Miller wrote:How can one like both Corison and Chateau Smith-Haut-Lafite AND Silver Oak? :? :)


You're easy? ;)

"there's a sucker born every minute."

No personal offense intended ... I should disclose that I used to go to Silver Oak every time I went to Napa. ;)


Ah....I'm not a "sucker." I'm just very, very irresponsible. :oops:

(I hate Rolexes, and in my defense I never really knew that Silver Oak was considered a "pseudo-prestige" :))


They do have a nice logo glass, though :lol:
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Re: Opinions on Silver Oak Napa Cabernet Sauvignon

Postby Isaac » Tue Nov 14, 2006 1:27 pm

A friend brought a Silver Oak over some months back. She, my wife and I shared it, and we all enjoyed it. I don't recall if it was Napa or Alexander Valley. I really don't care, as it's out of my price range anyway!
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Re: Opinions on Silver Oak Napa Cabernet Sauvignon

Postby Robin Garr » Tue Nov 14, 2006 1:59 pm

Brian K Miller wrote:Ah....I'm not a "sucker." I'm just very, very irresponsible. :oops:


Hey! I resemble that remark!

They do have a nice logo glass, though :lol:


That was one of the reasons I used to justify my annual visit! "This is the only way I can get a taste of Silver Oak without paying a gazillion dollars for it, and I can get my money back from the tasting fee by buying a wine glass!" Or, now that I think of it, a corkscrew. :roll:
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Re: Opinions on Silver Oak Napa Cabernet Sauvignon

Postby Dave Erickson » Tue Nov 14, 2006 7:21 pm

Robin Garr wrote:
Brian K Miller wrote:How can one like both Corison and Chateau Smith-Haut-Lafite AND Silver Oak? :? :)


You're easy? ;)

I think the between-the-lines story here, Brian, may be that a lot of wine geeks really dislike Silver Oak for reasons similar to the disproportionate disdain that many geeks have for Far Niente, and you touched on it with your reference to "overpriced." Both labels have become somewhat symbolic of conspicuous overconsumption, putting them into a similar category with, say, Rolex and Louis Vuitton and BMW: There's a perception - fair or unfair I cannot say - that the producers somehow manage to get more for their product than it's really worth, a perception that's all too easily translated into "there's a sucker born every minute."

No personal offense intended ... I should disclose that I used to go to Silver Oak every time I went to Napa. ;)


1. People who buy Silver Oak (at least in our store) tend to drive BMWs and wear Rolexes. Howzabout that. 8)

2. Everybody's got a guilty pleasure. Some of us seem to specialize in them :mrgreen: Ever drink Bourbon and Fresca? I learned about it in an Elmore James novel--it was the preferred tipple of a minor character (an alcoholic security guard, natch). A real trailer-trash drink. I sneak one every now and again, when I think nobody's looking.
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Re: Opinions on Silver Oak Napa Cabernet Sauvignon

Postby Robin Garr » Tue Nov 14, 2006 7:45 pm

Dave Erickson wrote:Ever drink Bourbon and Fresca?


EeeEEEeeeUUUuuueeewww!

But I should disclose that here in Bourbon country, most of us start out drinking Bourbon and Coke or Bourbon and 7-Up, and some never outgrow it.
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Re: Opinions on Silver Oak Napa Cabernet Sauvignon

Postby James Roscoe » Tue Nov 14, 2006 7:49 pm

Robin Garr wrote:
Dave Erickson wrote:Ever drink Bourbon and Fresca?


EeeEEEeeeUUUuuueeewww!

But I should disclose that here in Bourbon country, most of us start out drinking Bourbon and Coke or Bourbon and 7-Up, and some never outgrow it.


And why would Bourbon and Fresca be any worse you ole hick!
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Re: Opinions on Silver Oak Napa Cabernet Sauvignon

Postby Jeff Yeast » Tue Nov 14, 2006 8:23 pm

Robin,

Have you heared of bourbon and Ale-8-one? The thought makes me want to throw up, but some people swear by it.
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Re: Opinions on Silver Oak Napa Cabernet Sauvignon

Postby Howie Hart » Tue Nov 14, 2006 9:00 pm

While on the side-thread of "Bourbon and", just what the hell is branch water? :?
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Re: Opinions on Silver Oak Napa Cabernet Sauvignon

Postby Jeff Yeast » Tue Nov 14, 2006 9:34 pm

Technically it's KY, limestone filtered, stream/creek water, but in practice it's just bourbon and water.
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