[Image: Bunch of Grapes]
Today's Wine Tasting Note

© Copyright 1997 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.


Beaulieu Vineyard wine bottles; image from the Beaulieu Page.

We had a couple of decent $12 CalCabs sitting around, so I decided to make a game out of it tonight and taste them against each other in a "blind shootout." The shootout was bloodless, leaving both participants standing tall at the end, but they were certainly different in style.

Estancia 1995 California Cabernet Sauvignon ($12.99)
Ruby with an orange glint. Good cassis aroma wrapped up with aromatic oaky vanillins. Fresh fruit flavor and "bourbon-barrel" oak make for a mouth-filling, sweet-fruit flavor that's clean and consistent in a long finish.

Beaulieu Vineyard (BV) 1994 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($12.79)
Dark garnet in color. Subtle aromas, tobacco leaf and cedar, "cigar box," reminiscent of Bordeaux. Full, structured and balanced, wood a bit more evident on the palate than the nose.

You might mark the BV as a bit more "elegant" and the Estancia a bit more "hedonistic." Parker would probably give the Estancia the edge, but I find them both very pleasant wines.

FOOD MATCH: The classic accompaniment to Cabernet is lamb, and both of these went nicely with a Northern Italian casserole (from Marcella Hazan) of lamb cubes long-cooked at high heat with turnips, artichokes and mushrooms in a bit of white wine and broth. The BV may have made a marginally better match because it didn't show the aromatic oakiness of the Estancia, which makes the latter a slightly more challenging food match.

NAPA V. RUTHERFORD: The original BV "Rutherford" was required to drop that name a couple of years ago when "Rutherford" became an officially limited viticultural area (AVA) for which the wine's grape sources didn't qualify. With this vintage, however, BV is now making two separate bottlings at the same approximate price point -- this one, labeled "Napa," and a similar product with the "Rutherford" appellation that's received good reviews but appears difficult to find east of the Rockies. I'm still looking for some ...

All my wine-tasting reports are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores.

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