Big Splurges $75+, Red; Mostly Napa Cabs, Tastings

A Tale of Four Cabs: Napa 2014 Blind Tasting

Gary loves Napa Cabs. Our dear friends also love Napa Cabs. Lisa? Not so much. But she was game for organizing a blind tasting of 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley. This was a proper horizontal tasting with three bottles of 2014 Napa Cab Sauv and one 2014 Sonoma ringer. The tasters were six knowledgeable red wine lovers [well 5 plus Lisa]. The “contestants” were clad in paper bags and remained anonymous until after the tasting.

Each wine was rated in the mid-90s or higher by professional reviewers like Robert Parker and James Suckling [whose tastes are not always aligned with VinoDuo’s] and sold for @$90 a bottle. We asked our tasters to rank each wine on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 as the best.

Maze Cabernet Sauvignon, Pritchard Hill, Napa 2014  $95/bottle
Five tasters ranked The Maze between 3.0 – 5.0, the best reviewed of the bunch. We loved the “cherry nose” and “toasted cedar notes,” with “fine tannins” and “juicy but delicate” flavors. One holdout gave the Maze a 2.5, finding it “too light and too dry.”

2nd BEST
World’s End Good Times, Bad Times
Beckstoffer to Kalon Vineyard 2014
The World’s End was a controversial quaff. Three tasters gave it a 4 or higher; three gave it a 1 or 2. The high scorers said they loved its “minerally nose,” “layered palate” and complex tones.” One naysayer crowned it “worst of the bunch” and another found it “sour.” That’s what makes horse racing, right?

Caspar Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford 2014  $100/bottle
The Caspar garnered one 1, three 2s, one 3, and a 4.5!  Comments ranged from “Deep, dark and foreboding” [that’s a rave] to “Smells great but don’t like the taste.”  Remarkably, Caspar produced just 60 bottles of this vintage. VinoDuo nabbed half a case from a Vivino limited offer as did one of our Cab-loving tasters. Lisa gave the Caspar a 2 that night; three days later, she and Gary finished the bottle and upped her rating to 3.5!

Beringer Knights Valley Reserve, Sonoma 2014  $65/bottle
Ah, the ringer. Whenever we host a Napa tasting we throw in a Sonoma offering to see if our friends’ discerning palates can pick it out of the lineup. At a 2015 Napa Cab blind tasting [see our post] our Cab specialist immediately found the Sonoma imposter. Last week, she was unable to tag the Beringer Knights Valley as the Sonoma entry. Tasting notes include: “toasted oak nose,” “notes of concentrated black fruit,” and “not complex but tasty.” Garnering 2s, 3s and 4s, the Beringer was well-liked by all, adored by just one taster.

What’s the #1 take-away from the tasting? When you read professional wine reviews stating that “2014 was a great year for Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon” that doesn’t mean you will like all Napa Cabs! Our wines shared the same year, grape, and geography. But each had a unique profile and shared very little flavor notes. If you want to learn more about Napa Valley Cabernet do some homework. Go to wine shop tastings and classes, and learn which kind of wines are right for your palate and budget.

And, despite the $100 price point of our blind tasting wines, good value Napa Cabernet Sauvignon is available within the $20-$30 range. Gary’s current favorite? The Buehler Vineyards 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon, which sells for @$25/bottle.






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