CABERNETS OF THE WORLD
October 27, 1999
80% Cab 20% Sangiovese $119.99
|BEAULIEU VINEYARD 1996 Napa
PRIVATE RESERVE "Georges de Latour" CABERNET
1995 Muge (Ribatejo) Portugal
|MONTES ALPHA 1997 (Santa
80% Cab Sauv
10% Cab Franc
1996 South Australia
CABERNET SAUVIGNON $64.99
|Chateau STE. MICHELLE
1996 Columbia Valley/Washington
Predominantly Cab Sauv with Merlot & Syrah
Robert Mondavi/Chadwick Family
1996 Anconcagua Valley/Chile
"Gran Coronas Black Label"
100% Cab Sauv
16 tasters participated.
The past couple of decades have seen a rush in the wine world to jump on the Cabernet
Bandwagon. It is for a good reason. There has developed a worldwide connoisseurship of
Cabernet based wines. Unlike the somewhat limited geographical niche for the finicky Pinot
Noir for example, Cabernet seems able to find a happy home in a considerable diversity of
terroirs. The vines are considerably more handy than Pinot.
Cabernets extension into somewhat warmer climes is due, perhaps, to its habit of
final ripening in cooler October (April, in the Southern Hemisphere), a fact that allows
it to retain its balance.
We decided to assemble a group of Cabernets from various points throughout the globe and
let them duke it out with each other. Our entry from Spain has had a considerable history
and a solid reputation. The current entry, though, left quite a bit to be desired
according to our tasters. It was Torres 1994 Gran Cornas Black Label, which several
tasters found simple, poorly concentrated, overly extracted and shrill. Less
harsh critics found jam, spice, and smoke but marked it down for
uncentered fruit and a flat finish. An admirer found voluptuous
density! An entry from Chile, a collaborative effort of Robert Mondavi and Errazuriz
which they call Sea (1996), experienced some difficulty finding admirers for
its funky vegetative tone (uncooked green beans) and chocolaty,
stewed Cabernet fruit. Another found a queer smorgasbord of flavors including
raspberry gum-drops, pickles, olives and chocolate. Another taster found
honeysuckle and an enthusiastic supporter found spot on Cassis! A
surprisingly affordable Cabernet from Portugal, the 1995 Casa Cadaval, was admittedly a
bit simple but had nice cedary, woodsy character. Another found a bit of tar
reminiscent of some older Napa Cabs. Tannins were easy on one palate and
harsh on another. It was surprising to find it ranked slightly below the most
expensive Cabernet of the tasting: Antinoris famed Solaia (@ well over
$100) from Tuscany, Italy. This 1996 version was described as dusty, spicy with
dark-toned fruit and difficult tannins. One stanch defender found a
classy, classic mouthful of Cabernet. One of the problems for such a dry, lean
and tightly crafted wine is that it tends to appear overly austere to many tasters when it
is up against far more fleshy, full-bodied wines. This is the so-called Parker
Our entry from Washington State, the 1996 Col Solare from Chateau Ste.
Michelle was found to have violets, Cassis and cedar on the nose while another found
it plum-like. It was generally thought to have nice easy tannins and long,
mouthfilling Cabernet fruit. A second entry from Chile, the 1997 Montes Alpha Cabernet
called simply M charmed the tasters with its complex, toasty, lightly oaked
nose and eminently flavorful Cabernet fruit. One found an unusual flowery note
while another found hints of milk chocolate, a wine, it was agreed, for
near-term consumption. Penfolds renowned Bin #707 (1996) earned second place with its
full, rich Cabernet and hints of cherries, sage, spice
One found hints of the French grape spirit called marc while another found it
too oak dominant but Ill drink it! The top wine of the evening was
praised for its rich, lush texture, its hints of cherries, peppermint,
cream and long lingering finish. It was the 1996 Georges de la Tour
Private Reserve Cabernet of Beaulieu, Napa.
Wine Consultant @ Weimax Wines & Spirits
I thought this was a terrific tasting.
The Torres wine simply has not been as outstanding as the "Black Label" Coronas
they made many years ago. This wine was, also, the oldest of the bunch and it simply
The Sea was a wine I enjoyed quite a bit, but most people interpreted the "creme de
cassis" aromas of the Cabernet as "vegetal." As a result, this wine
was not well-liked by the group. However, curiously, a French taster (who
works for a wine importer in The City) also found the cassis notes to be of interest.
We were, though, the only fans of this wine.
The Portuguese wine of Casa Cadaval, though well out of its league in terms of price, was
right in there in terms of quality. I gave it a star-and-a-half, with my top four
wines having 2 stars (on a scale of three). The Cadaval has some tannin, but it is a
serious wine and at a most reasonable price.
I marked down the Antinori Solaia, finding it a shade less intense than the other wines.
It is good, however. Bob is quite enthusiastic about this wine.
The Ste. Michelle wine, Col Solare, has aggressive tannins for a wine which is so sweet on
the nose. It's a bit at odds on the palate...sweet oak, violets, creamy notes and
then these harsh, biting tannins. It will be interesting to see if this wine ever
arrives at a point of balance.
The Montes Alpha "M" is also nicely oaked, but a shade better balanced at this
The two favorites of the tasting are both matured in American oak. The Penfolds, one
of the benchmarks for Australia (as BV was for California 20 years ago), was a powerhouse!
Lots of peppermint to this lavishly oaked red. It is very showy and probably
not quite as cellarworthy as some of the others due to its lack of acidity.
The BV, returning to the lofty place it held in the 1960s and 1970s, was also excellent.
It has less "woody" notes than the Penfolds...it is a stylish and lovely
Napa Valley Cabernet.
Back to the Tasting Main Page
WEIMAX TASTING ARCHIVE
CHTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE September 12, 2001
"High Roller" CHARDONNAYS September 5, 2001
BORDEAUX August 22, 2001
Tasting August 1, 2001
CALIFORNIA ZINS July 25, 2001
1998 CABERNET SAUVIGNONS
July 11, 2001
CALIFORNIA CHARDONNAYS June 6, 2001
1997 ECHEZEAUX May 30, 2001
COAST ZINFANDELS May 23, 2001
West Coast Merlots May 9, 2001
WEST COAST PINOT NOIRS May 2, 2001
BARBARESCO April 25, 2001
RUSSIAN RIVER PINOT NOIRS April 11, 2001
1997 NAPA CABERNETS
April 4, 2001
1995 BRUNELLO di MONTALCINO March 28,
1997 CHAMBOLLE-MUSIGNY &
MOREY SAINT DENIS
with one 1996...March 14, 2001
GEVREY-CHAMBERTIN March 7, 2001
BAROLO February 28, 2001
California Cabernets January 10, 2001
California Cabernets November 8, 2000
TUSCAN SANGIOVESES November 1, 2000
Chteauneuf-du-Papes & CALIFORNIA WANNABEEs October 25, 2000
1998 PINOT NOIRS October 11, 2000
CALIFORNIA CABERNETS October 4, 2000
CLARETS September 27, 2000
BORDEAUX September 13, 2000
1997 NAPA CABERNETS
September 6, 2000
1998 CALIFORNIA CHARDONNAYS
August 30, 2000