Monster Cabs – Friday, January 20th, 2017

Cabernet Sauvignon, AKA, King Cab, Cab, the invader, the intruder, the colonizer, etc. One of the best-known grapes in the wine world and also one of the most planted throughout the world.  It has been planted in every country that is able to grow grapes.  Name recognition definitely helps when a grower is looking to sell but also because it is such a hardy and enduring grape it has made its way into everywhere that wants to produce wine, thus earning it wonderful nicknames.  Tonight we had the privilege to taste quite a few different Cabs from around the world focusing on bigger, more robust wines and I for one was left with slightly darker teeth by the end of this tasting.

We worked our way through a total of seven different Cabernet Sauvignons during the stand up tasting. I will go through them in order of voting preference.  There was a slight disadvantage because everyone had to pick 2 favourites, which I and many others found to be quite difficult as they were all fantastic in their own right.

Moss Wood Wilyabrup Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 – $96.99
This is the 40th anniversary vintage of Cabernet Sauvignon for Moss Wood and they are doing a fantastic job.  It was a clear winner with the majority of votes.  This is a gorgeous and well structured wine with lots of dark fruit flavours such as plums and cassis along with a touch of chocolate.  Bright acidity on the palate, with lovely tannins for a very balanced and well put together wine. This also happened to be the wine with the most amount of time aged in barrels at 28 months.  It was a great pleasure to be able to share this wine with everyone at the tasting.

Lancaster Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 – $84.99
This wonderful Cab comes from the hills of Alexander Valley in Sonoma County and they are definitely doing something right.  We were lucky enough to get eighteen bottles of this into the store and unfortunately we are down to only a few left.  This Cab does actually have a bit of other grapes mixed into it to help round it out and give it what the producer is looking for.  It is a 2009 and still drinking very fresh.  Deep rich colour, lots of fresh, jammy ripe fruit on the nose and palate, along with leather, tobacco, and some earthy qualities.  This is more than just a monster; this is a monster with class.  There has definitely been lots of care and attention put into this wine and I am so glad that we were able to try it before it is gone.

Tether Napa Valley Red Blend 2014 – $81.99
I may have cheated a little bit on this one because it is not full Cab Sauv but the grape still takes the main stage in this wine and I did feel that it falls into the monster realm. Tether is an exclusive to us something that was very hard to pass up.  This beauty is a collaboration wine from Kimberly Jones (wine broker) and winemaker Anna Monticelli.  Kimberly is a wine broker for some fantastic wine producers from the Napa region. She sources her grapes from a variety of different producers but she keeps it a secret which makes these an even more amazing value! This is her second vintage and they only produced a little over 1000 cases.  This is the large fruit monster that you have been looking for if that is what you like.  Lots of intense blackberry, cassis, cherry, along with some liquorice on the nose and large, round tannins with dark fruit medley jam to complete the palate.  This is definitely a special treat to have and something very unique and interesting.

Burrowing Owl Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 – $57.49
I was fortunate enough to go to Burrowing Owl a few years ago and they gave me the whole tour of their winery.  If you have not gone it is definitely worth the trip and one of my favourite places to go around the Osoyoos area.  The winery is a sight to behold and are making fantastic wines.  It was awesome to see how this lovely Canadian gem paired up against some big competition from other parts of the world.  Needless to say it did exceptionally well.  This beauty had everything you would hope for from a big Cab, lots of dark fruit, a touch of vanilla, currant, just a hint of mint with some cedar and tobacco.  Every opportunity I get to taste Canadian wines makes me more impressed and fills me with a little bit of national pride to see how well they are doing.  This is a must try for your Canadian catalogue.

Mitolo Jester Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 – $27.99
This was our entry level little monster.  It did very well against the competition especially considering the price difference among them.  This is one of the staff favourites from the store and always a winner.  The team at Mitolo actually take 20% of the grapes that will be used for this wine and utilise a drying technique from north eastern Italy on the grapes to help get a richer, more concentrated flavour. It may sound like clever marketing but in this case it definitely works! This lovely wine shows notes of violet, blackberry, and a touch of tobacco on the nose.  It is a fuller body with lots of fruit, cherry, currant, plum and a touch of chocolate.  The tannins are nicely integrated making for an easy drinking, smooth Cab.

Viña Maipo “Protegido” Cabernet Sauvignon – $57.99
Protegido or the protected one, the names for the wines from Viña Maipo all come from the town of Maipo where all the people celebrate on the 8th of December and worship to the Virgin Mary for protection over their lands, crops, plantations, and town.  They must be doing something right because they have now become the 4th largest producer of wines from Chile.  I think this wine is fantastic and a delicious wine for the price.  There is class, elegance and structure all through it (As I write this I am currently revisiting it to ‘make sure’ that it is still good…).  It features a lovely ruby, garnet colour.  On the nose there are lots of floral notes along with plum, blackberry, black pepper, and a touch of some herbs.  The palate is elegant and delightful with lovely acidity surrounding the tannins to integrate them beautifully. A nice touch of dark chocolate, with more blackberries, and currants as well.  Ave maria!

Buriano IGT Toscana Cabernet Sauvignon – $39.99
Here was a wonderful surprise, a 100% Cab from Tuscany!  The estate Rocca di Castagnoli is in a beautiful village right in the center of Chianti.  There are 100 Hectares covered in vine with the majority being Sangiovese but they have also put in Cabernet Sauvignon so that they can give us this wonderful Super Tuscan.  It is a lovely, great valued Cabernet with fantastic acidity that pairs delightfully with the tannins.  The fruit shows up delightfully on the nose and palate but it is more subdued than the competitors.  If you prefer more of an old world style this is definitely the wine for you.  This would be a fantastic wine to have with a peppered steak, or some venison.  You would be hard pressed to find a comparable Cab for the same price point.

I had a fantastic time at the tasting and it was an absolute pleasure to share these wines with everyone who attended!  I can’t wait to do this all again and until then I will keep tasting to make sure that can always find something wonderful for people to try. It is a rough job, but somebody has to do it!

- Dave

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