Tag Archive for cabernet sauvignon

Review: 2013 Ecluse Cabernet Sauvignon

When I went up to Paso Robles last, my goal was to find a new wine club. I had been a wine club member at a Temecula Winery for about two years, but was itching for something new. Over the weekend, I visited about seven wineries and was about to give up. Then at our last stop on Sunday before we headed back, another winery owner suggested we try Ecluse up the road.

Ecluse is on the westside of Paso Robles. It’s an unpretentious winery with a steel shed tasting room where they let you taste wine straight from the barrel, an experience I highly recommend. After our tasting, my husband and I were sold; we became winery members right then and took home a dozen bottles.

Got to barrel-taste the 14 Improv from @eclusewines this weekend. It's gonna be sooo good

A photo posted by Wine For The Win (@wineforthewin) on

This week we drank the 2013 Ecluse Cabernet Sauvignon. It smelled delicious and tasted like candy! No, no, it’s not like a sugary-gives-your-teeth-cavities candy, but a delicious dark licorice that you savor. The wine weighs heavy on your tongue, burrowing deep with its full-mouth feel.


The dark purple liquid had a short-lived and somewhat bitter aftertaste, but that went away with time. I think the burn could be attributed to the high alcohol level of 14.9%. The wine, which also had a coffee flavor that complimented our steak dinner, needed some air. I bet if we drank this wine in 2017 rather than a few days ago it would have calmed down a bit more. Only 240 barrels of this award-winning wine were made.

Nuts & Bolts:

Winery: Ecluse Wines
Type: Cabernet Sauvignon
Origin: Paso Robles
Vintage: 2013
Price: $40, Club $32
Alcohol content: 14.9%
When to drink: This wine is perfect for philosophical discussions.

Review: 2012 Pacific Redwood Organic Cabernet Sauvignon

When I left my old job recently to start a new adventure, a wine-loving friend gave me a bottle of the 2012 Pacific Redwood Organic Cabernet Sauvignon with this premise: It was the best organic wine that he’s ever had.

I was a little skeptical of organic wine, admittedly, and was also skeptical of wine from Redwood Valley with a bunch of trees on the label–all very superficial concerns, I know.

The wine was tart on the intake–perhaps my fault for not letting breathe, I can be a bit impatient–but then the Cab sweetened up a bit, leaving me thinking, eh. By the finish, I experienced a little kick of spice.


This is definitely some fruit-forward business that was kind of vanilla-y all wrapped up in some round tannins.

The bottle explains that this wine “contains only naturally occurring sulfates.” Sulates are preservatives, so important to keep wine fresh, especially whites. However, I am technically allergic to sulfates. But I love wine. I know, it’s a conundrum. Basically I get a very flush face and neck when I drink wine. I don’t notice it as much as my drinking partner, so that’s a plus. I did notice that I didn’t get as flush from drinking this wine, real effects or placebo, perhaps?

The label also notes that the wine is vegan. That got me thinking, which wine isn’t?! That subject to be tackled in a future blog post. Have some guidance for me? Tell me in the comments?

Nuts & Bolts:

  • Winery: Pacific Redwood
  • Type: Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Origin: Redwood Valley
  • Vintage: 2012
  • Price: gifted; $10 on wine-searcher.com
  • Alcohol content: 12.8%
  • When to drink: With all your hippie vegan friends while camping

Review: 2012 Stateland Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon

When you drink this berrylicious Cabernet Sauvignon, your mouth will water. The blackberry aroma and soft tannins of this easy-to-drink Cab can be quite persuasive.


However, this Central Coast red can be a bit leathery at times, lying heavy on the tongue, coating it as if it were leaving behind a prime layer of paint. It can have a bump in the finish, but that dissipates the longer it breathes.

Use the leftovers, if you have any, as a steak marinade. I did this with Tri-tip, salt, pepper, cumin and garlic and loved the berry/ savory results.

Nuts and Bolts

  • Winery: Stateland Cellars
  • Type: Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Origin: Paso Robles
  • Vintage: 2012
  • Price: $19, purchased at Bevmo 5 cent wine sale, so I got two for one, basically
  • Alcohol content: 13.7%
  • When to drink: Bring this to a dinner party. The classic label makes it look more expensive that it is and the balanced, fruity Cab will be a crowd-pleaser.

No land, no problem: These guys still started a new Sonoma winery

This is how the story goes: three guys from the Midwest and East Coast all worked in the wine industry, but wanted to start their own new winery in Napa. They didn’t have the land or the money, but they found an opportunity and ran with it.

In 2009, when the recession hit, they bought up 20 extra barrels from the winery one of the three worked at. The barrels, which were supposed to turn into bottles of wine worth about $50 were sitting in waiting as the winery at the time didn’t have the cash to bottle the raw product during the economic squeeze, according to Forbes.

Read the full Forbes article.

Like developers flip houses, the trio–Noah Dorrance, Baron Ziegler and Steve Graf– flipped barrels, branding their wine with a new label, Banshee Wines, and selling out in three months.

Now the winery leases land and rents space for their barrels from other established wineries, according to Forbes. They also blend the wine they cull from other wineries to make their own creations, according to K& L Wine. Their tasting room is in Healdsburg, Calif. and looks like a vintage living room. The winery has another label, too, Rickshaw, and sold 45,000 cases of wine last year.

According to wine-searcher.com, you can find Banshee at liquor/ wine stores in states such as New Jersey, Colorado, North Carolina and California. The winery produces Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon, according to their website.

K&L Wine describes the $19.99 bottle of 2008 Banshee Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir like this:

“With its nose of fresh blackberry, volcanic ash, fried sage and porcini mushroom and deep rich flavors of kirsch, Asian plum, finely cracked white pepper and a touch of tarragon, there may not be a better Pinot for $20 this year.”

And the $21.99 2010 Banshee “Mordecai” Red Blend like this:

“The 2010 blend consists of thirteen different varietals in all, but several varietals take center stage: Napa Cabernet sets the tone with an intense core of dark fruit and solid tannic structure as Syrah, Grenache, and Cabernet Franc add spice, body, and lift in a sort of Bordeaux-meets-Rhone story set in California. The cooler than average 2010 growing season comes through in the form of this wine’s exceptional fragrance and elegant stature.”

That’s some high praise! Has anyone tried Banshee? I’d love to see some thoughts in the comments.

Friend Banshee Wine on Facebook and follow the winery on Twitter.

Review: Berenda Road Cabernet Sauvignon

My other half’s family lives on property in Temecula fit with a donkey, a mule, turtles, barn cats, a Great Dane, a Border Collie, cockatiels and chickens. They don’t have vineyards, but there are plenty in nearby wine country.

The last time he went up to visit he brought me back wine from some local wineries. One of them was Berenda Road Cabernet Sauvignon.


The wine, which is made by South Coast Winery, was a hit with several friends who came over to our place for an advanced screening of “Girls.” Drinking wine is to sipping a cosmopolitan as “Girls” is to watching “Sex and The City” eight years ago. If that SAT-style comparison gave you a headache, you’ll be glad to know that Berenda Road Cabernet Sauvignon won’t.

The herby, rich Cabernet tasted like ripe berries. Although the bottle descries it as having a “warm oak character” it didn’t taste too oaky to me. It was hard to describe during intermissions between episodes, but I was trying to get across to my fellow wine drinkers that to me it tasted tightly-wound. All the flavors were packed together. At $10 or less a bottle, it’s a great value.

Nuts and Bolts

  • Winery: Berenda Road, South Coast Winery
  • Type: Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Origin: Temecula
  • Vintage: Didn’t see it on the bottle, but I could have missed it…
  • Price: $10
  • Alcohol content: 14.3%
  • When to drink: This Cabernet is a good one to bring to a dinner party. It’s inexpensive, but will taste like it costs more. it’s very “approachable” as the label says. Everyone who drank it at my house enjoyed it. So, definitely a crowd-pleaser.

The rise of Cabernet Franc?

Will Cabernet Franc be in a few years what Malbec was in 2010?

Australian winemaking consultant Brian Croser thinks so. Last week at a wine workshop in London he said the varietal is “going to explode,” according to the Drinks Business.

Right now the grape is not even a top 10 grower, falling far beyond its #1 growing genetic cousin, Cabernet Sauvignon. But this fruit with herb and tobacco flavors, in addition to the berries characteristic of its relative, has potential to travel the same trajectory of Pinot Noir. It was all but forgotten three decades ago, but now it’s a dinner party darling.

This is a big idea from Croser, especially since just about seven years ago, Slate chronicled the “sad plight” of the under-rated grape.

Top produced wines: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon

Although they’ve been in the top 10 for more than two decades, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot had been bringing up the rear back in 1990. But now, they’ve catapulted to first and second place when it comes to top produced wines.

Other wines such as Syrah made even bigger jumps, with that varietal running up the ladder from 35th to 6th, according to a December study from the Wine Economics Research Centre at the University of Adelaide.

The top 10 of 2010

Cabernet Sauvignon
Garnacha Tinta
Sauvignon Blanc
Trebbiano Toscano
Pinot Noir

 The top 10 of 1990

Garnacha Tinta
Trebbiano Toscano
Cabernet Sauvignon

So what happened? Why did some wines move up the chain, and others such as Bobal and Sultaniye fall off the chart, and I’d say out of public knowledge, at least in the U.S.?

Well, according to the study a few things to note:

1. Six of the most common wine grape varieties back in the 1990s fell off the popular scale, especially Airen and Sultaniye, which were considered low quality wines. At the same time, the popularity of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay beamed as “regions sought to improve the quality of their wine grapes.” I might note also that I went to several weddings last year and this trio was the only wine offered at all of them.

2. Wine areas in country’s across the globe started to grow more of just their top variety.

3. Between 2000 and 2010, French varieties–such as Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon– dominated New World and Old World Vineyards, increasing from 53% to 67% and  20% to 27%, respectively in those regions.

Not surprisingly, most vineyards are in Spain France and Italy. The “big three” accounted for more than half of the world’s wine grape vineyard area in 2010, according to the study. The United States and Argentina are fourth, but they each account for less than 5%.

Read the whole study here.

Review: 2012 Ceibo Malbec/Cabernet Sauvignon

If I had to pick one word to describe this Malbec, it would be tart. The wine has a lot of structure and a zesty flavor at the end, but I felt like the tart, pomegranate flavor was distracting. There’s also a flowery essence to the drink, which I tasted, but my fellow drinker did not. Overall, I’d skip this wine if you’re going down the aisles in search of a new Malbec to try. I think I’ll probably use the leftover wine in the bottle for cooking, perhaps for an Arrabbiata style red tomato sauce.



Nuts and Bolts

  • Winery: Ceibo
  • Type: Malbec (70%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (30%)
  • Origin: Mendoza
  • Vintage: 2012
  • Price: Gifted
  • Alcohol content: 13.8%
  • When to drink: I can’t think of an appropriate situation for this one because I didn’t like it much.

Review: 2012 Apothic Red Winemaker’s Blend

After a day full of skiing in Big Bear, your body craves Alleve and warmth. Apothic Red is the next best thing.

The sweet, vanilla-y red blend will soothe what ails you and warm you right up, especially if you have a glass or three.


The mixture of Zinfandel, Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon is an easy-drinker, minus the alcohol tinge at the end. But the major fruitiness of the blend makes up for that negative. If you like your fruity reds bold and smoky though, I’d stay away from this saccharine libation.

Making the drinking experience all the better, I got to hang out with this fine Australian Shepherd.


Nuts and Bolts

  • Winery: Apothic Red
  • Type: Winemaker’s blend (Zinfandel, Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon)
  • Origin: Modesto
  • Vintage: 2012
  • Price: $7
  • Alcohol content: 13.5%
  • When to drink: After a day of skiing the slopes!

Review: 2012 Coastal Cabernet Sauvignon

After two-buck chuck became three-buck chuck, I shucked my allegiance to the wine on the cheap for a $4 bottle of Trader Joe’s Coastal Cabernet Suavignon, a quality inexpensive red to have lying around the kitchen.

For just a smidge more than its more famous neighbor in the wine aisle, The 2012 Coastal is quite a good QPR wine (quality price ratio). It doesn’t have any special tricks, but it does have all the tenets of a traditional Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s got a full-mouth, oaky feel, a toasty dry finish and a bold fruity flavor that can veer into bitter cranberry at times (the one down side).


Overall, this is a good buy for the wino on a budget!

Nuts and Bolts

  • Winery: Coastal
  • Type: Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Origin: Central Coast
  • Vintage: 2012
  • Price: $4.49
  • Alcohol content: 13.5%
  • When to drink: During the week, when your wearing your pajamas and slippers to dinner at home, preferably one featuring tri tip.