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CABERNET VALUE

AMAZING ALBARIÑO

CAB DRIVER'S CARmenere

SOULFUL RED RHÔNE

SURPRISINGLY GOOD TEN BUCK MERLOT

BIGFOOT CABERNET

COOL PORTUGUESE WHITE WINE

2007 VINTAGE CHAMPAGNE 

CIRO' BIANCO!

GOOD RIESLING KNOWS NO BOUNDARIES

CHAMPAGNE DE
MERFY

A FIESTA OF A TEMPRANILLO

OBSCURE ITALIAN RED

CIÙ CIÙ
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FLASHY RED BORDEAUX

NEW STONY SANCERRE

MAN, OH MAN, WHAT A WINE!

ELEVEN BUCK
AMADOR ZIN

HARD-TO-BELIEVE PASO ROBLES CABERNET

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SLEEPER of A CHARDONNAY

SUSSUDIO ???

FLORAL ALBARIÑO

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NEW SONOMA RHONE-ISTE OF NOTE

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LAKE COUNTY ZIN

STELLAR NEW ARTISAN RIOJA

NICE LITTLE PINOT $9.99

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MARSELAN...A HYBRID OF CABERNET & GRENACHE

BEST BUYS
Good Wines for $5-$15

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CAMPANIAN DELIGHTS

COLORFUL ZIN

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PORTUGUESE RED BARGAIN

GRAND SYRAH FROM AN UNUSUAL PLACE

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CHERRYISH TUSCAN RED SALE $12.99

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PIERCINGLY GOOD
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VINO FINO TASTERS
1998
CALIFORNIA CABERNETS

September 19,2001

We've been led to believe by wine writers that the 1998 vintage is of modest quality when it comes to California Cabernets.

Allan Anderson, in a rare moment of silence, prayed for two things:
1.) His favorite wine in the tasting to be affordable (that is, less than $8 a bottle) and
2.) Mark Naismith (seen pouring above/left) wouldn't empty the bottles before Allan got a chance to pour for himself (Mark has the biggest wine glasses).
  



Wineries have led us to believe the wines are superior to 1996 and 1997 vintages, as they're charging, in many cases, prices that are 10% (or more) higher than the preceding vintages.

In an effort to get form our own opinion, ring-leader Jacques (Jack) Sweitzer put together a set of Cabernets and we got down to business.

Here's what we found:


Jack, a professional bean counter, does the math.
No re-count was required.

The Wines Gerald's Rank GROUP RANK TOTAL POINTS 1sts/2nds/
Lasts

BENZIGER
Sonoma
$15

6 4 48 2/0/1
CAFARO
Napa
$35
3 5 52 0/3/1
FOLIE DEUX
Napa
Private Reserve
$28
7 7 57 0/2/0
HONIG
Napa
$26
5 3 42 1/0/1
LEWIS
Napa
$49
2 1 37 3/2/0
LIVINGSTON
MOFFETT
Napa
Stanley's Selection
$28
1 2 42 3/2/1
MOUNT EDEN
Santa Cruz Mountains
$24
8 8 62 1/1/5
QUINTANA
North Coast
$16
4 6 56 1/0/2


The wines were remarkably good!
Not a stinker in the bunch, you'll notice many wines received first and last place votes.

8th Place: MOUNT EDEN VINEYARDS
The aromas of Mount Eden's Cabernet were sweet and berryish to start, with good fruit and vanillin notes and even a hint of cedar.  I felt the wine began to show a slight metallic fragrance, which caused me to mark it down.  The flavors were similar to the nose, though the metallic character was undetectable.  Three to five years of aging would be about right.  One star (on a three star scale, 0 being standard or average quality).

7th Place:  FOLIE DEUX Private Reserve
Showing lots of blackberry and licorice notes, there's a nice hint of wood to this somewhat "old-fashioned" Cabernet.  The tannin level is a bit on the high side, but the wine may weather the test of time nicely, needing 5-10 years to soften.  It's one of the nicest wines I've tasted of this label.  One star.

6th Place:  QUINTANA North Coast
You can see the drop in the intensity of this wine.  Though I ranked it higher than many tasters, this does show some of the herbal, green tea notes that are probably the result of some immature fruit.  It has a bit more tannin than it needs, but is quite acceptable.  Three to eight years of aging potential.  One star.


Hanns Hartmann Made a Rare Appearance.

5th Place:  CAFARO Napa
I found this to have some earthy, tarry and tobacco-like notes, along with a sweet, creamy, vanillin quality from the oak.  Quite complex in the aroma.  The wine is certainly tannic and structured, yet seems to have an appropriate level of fruit on the palate to warrant the lashing of astringency.  Quite complex and deep, this is a wine for a real Cabernet fan.  Five to ten years of cellaring potential.  One-and-a-half stars.

4th Place:  BENZIGER Sonoma
Lots of berry notes, especially hinting at blackberry.  Not particularly profound, but certainly a pleasant enough wine with lots of fruit on the palate and mild, softer tannins.
One star.

3rd Place:  HONIG Napa
Some people speak of the character of Cabernet fruit from Rutherford as being "dusty" (there's even a Rutherford Dust Society), but I noted this as having lightly herbal and 'dusty' notes on its aroma.  There's a creamy texture and some woodsy notes on the palate with a mildly tannic finish.  Five to ten years of aging potential, I gave this a one star rating.

2nd Place:  LIVINGSTON "Stanley's"
What a lovely nose on this wine!  Lots of fruit, but also there's sweet spices reminiscent of cinnamon, nutmeg with a coffeeish note.  The wine is refined and elegant on the palate, a shade lighter than most of the rest, but so pretty!  Good oak, too.  Five to ten years aging potential.  Two stars.  

1st Place:  LEWIS  Napa (Non Reserve)
Woodsy notes dominate the nose, showing a pencil shaving sort of fragrance.  I was reminded of American oak, given the wine's somewhat ashy, woodsy fragrances.  The oak comes through prominently on the palate, with lots of blackcurrant fruit, too.
Five to ten years of cellaring potential.  One-and-a-half stars.


VINO FINO TASTING ARCHIVE

2007 RUSSIAN RIVER PINOT NOIRS  February 2010

A RANGE OF FRENCH CHABLIS WINES  January 2010

HOLIDAY DINNER & WINE MARATHON  December 2009

ROSÉ SPARKLING WINES  November 2009

ARGENTINEAN MALBECS  October 2009

WEST COAST CHARDONNAYS  September 2009

GREEK RED WINES  August 2009

2005 BUDGET BORDEAUX  July 2009

CAMPANIAN WHITE WINES  June 2009

MIXED BAG OF CALIFORNIA PINOT NOIRS  April 2009

RIOJA WINES, MOSTLY FROM THE 2004 VINTAGE  March 2009

NORTH COAST PETITE SIRAHS  February 2009

SYRAH & PETITE SIRAH COMPARISON  January 2009

A VINO FINO CHRISTMAS  December 2008

MOSTLY 2005s: NAPA CABERNETS  November 2008

SONOMA COUNTY PINOT NOIRS  October 2008

SANTA RITA HILLS -2006 VINTAGE- PINOT NOIRS  SEPTEMBER 2008

NEWLY RELEASED ZINFANDELS  August 2008

WHITE RHÔNE VALLEY WINES  JULY 2008

LOIRE VALLEY SAUVIGNONS  JUNE 2008

FRENCH CHABLIS 2005-2006  MAY 2008

NORTHERN RHÔNE SYRAHS  APRIL 2008

SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAINS PINOT NOIRS  January 2008

ANNUAL HOLIDAY CHRISTMAS DINNER  December 2007

WEST COAST CHARDONNAYS  November 2007

AUSTRALIAN SHIRAZ  October 2007

SPANISH TEMPRANILLO WINES  September 2007

SONOMA'S 2005 VINTAGE ZINFANDELS  August 2007

CURRENT RELEASE (2004-2005) ZINFANDELS  July 2007

ROS WINES FROM ALL OVER  June 2007

ITALIAN LAGREIN WINES  May 2007

ARGENTINEAN MALBECS  April 2007

SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE PINOT NOIRS  March 2007

MOSTLY 2004 CABERNETS   February 2007

CRU BEAUJOLAIS  January 2007

A VINO FINO CHRISTMAS  December 2006

CALIFORNIA ZINFANDELS  November 2006

PINOT NOIRS of VALUE-PRICING  October 2006

WORLD OF SYRAHS TASTING September 2006

AUSSIE CABERNET-SHIRAZ BLENDS  August 2006

ALEXANDER VALLEY (California)  and MARGARET RIVER (Australia) CABERNETS  July 2006 

CALIFORNIA PETITE SIRAHS  June 2006

2004 NORTH COAST PINOTS and a FRENCH INTRUDER  May 2006

AGLIANICO : BASILICATA & CAMPANIA'S MAJOR RED WINE  April 2006

NERO D'AVOLA - A TASTE OF SICILIA  March 2006

UNDER THE VINO FINO RADAR ZINFANDELS  January 2006

HOLIDAY WINE TASTING & DINNER  December 2005

BUBBLIES FROM AROUND THE WORLD  November 2005

NORTH COAST PINOT NOIRS  October 2005

STATE OF CONFUSION CABERNETS  September 2005

TIM ZAINER'S SIDEWAYS LOOK AT MERLOTS  August 2005

LOIRE VALLEY CABERNET FRANCS  June 2005 

CALIFORNIA SYRAHS  March 2005

2002 CALIFORNIA CABERNETS  February 2005

VINO FINO HOLIDAY WINE MARATHON  December 2004

CHARDONNAYS OF MODEST PRICE November 2004

SPANISH TEMPRANILLO  October 2004

2002 CENTRAL COAST PINOT NOIRS  September 2004

AUSSIE SHIRAZ-CABERNET BLENDS  August 2004

GEWRZTRAMINERS FROM ALSACE July 2004

2001 SOUTHERN RHNES (7 Chteauneufs & a Vacqueyras)  June 2004

AGLIANICO WINES FROM CAMPANIA & BASILICATA  May 2004

MONTEPULCIANO WINES FROM THE ABRUZZO & MARCHE REGIONS  April 2004

SONOMA ZINFANDELS  February 2004

1997 BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO  January 2004

VINO FINO HOLIDAY BACCHANALIA 2003

2001 CTES du RHNES  September 17, 2003

2000 OREGON PINOT NOIRS  August 20, 2003

WEST COAST SYRAHS  July 16, 2003

2000 Bordeaux  June 18, 2003

2000 CALIFORNIA CABERNETS May 21, 2003

OFF THE BEATEN PATH SYRAHS APRIL 16, 2003

2002 NEW ZEALAND SAUVIGNON BLANCS  March 19, 2003

1999 California CABERNETS  February 19, 2003

VINO FINO HOLIDAY BACCHANALIA December 4, 2002

AUSTRALIAN SHIRAZ  August 21, 2002

CHAMPAGNES & SPARKLERS July 17, 2002

Interesting Paired CHARDONNAYS
May 15, 2002

2001 Southern Hemisphere SAUVIGNON BLANCS   Feb. 20, 2002

1999 ZINFANDELS January 16, 2002

HOLIDAY SEASON BACCHANALIA
December 5, 2001

1999-2000 New PINOT NOIRS November 14, 2001

1999 CALIFORNIA ZINFANDELS October 17, 2001

1998 CALIFORNIA CABERNETS September 19, 2001

1999 LANGUEDOC REDS August 15, 2001

1997 SAUTERNES July 18, 2001

Mostly 1998 NEBBIOLO June 20, 2001

1999 PINOT NOIRS May 16, 2001

1996 SAINT-MILION Tasting April 18, 2001

CARNEROS CHARDONNAYS March 21, 2001

1984-1985 NAPA CABERNETS/John Vignau Memorial Tasting  October 20, 2000

1997 CALIFORNIA CABERNETS   September 20, 2000

1998 CALIFORNIA CHARDONNAYS   August 16, 2000

WINES FROM THE SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE: CLARETS  June 21, 2000

WINES FROM UNDER THE TUSCAN (and Umbrian) SUN   Aprile 19, 2000

1997 BORDEAUX: MEDOC May 17, 2000

 

 

 

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