Wine Tasting Notes, 2008: Cabernet Blind Tasting Results

As with the Zinfandel tasting of a couple weeks ago, I participated in a blind tasting of Cabernet Sauvignon today, along with about 10 other wine industry professionals. The wines we tasted were all from the 2005 vintage, with fruit sourced from four different appellations within the Napa Valley. They were all similarly priced, at $45 to $50. The wines in the flight were:

• De Sante Oakville 2005 ($50)

• W.H. Smith Howell Mountain 2005 ($45)

• Cliff Lede Stags Leap District 2005 ($50)

• C. Beck Barlow Vineyard Calistoga 2005 ($50)

The results provided some interesting data that can be interpreted in various ways. None of the four wines floored me, although I will say that my favorite wine was the De Sante, despite the fact that the wine had some old-world Brettanomyces issues. The Brett gave the wine a slight coffee nose, which I didn’t mind. A little Brett can be a good thing (sometimes). Among the group, however, the De Sante finished third.

The first-place Cabernet was arguably the Cliff Lede, although it was my least favorite. This wine earned the most first- and second-place votes, but it also had quite a large share of fourth-place votes (I wasn’t alone in my opinion). The C. Beck, on the other hand, had almost as many first- and second-place votes as the Cliff Lede, but no one voted it as their least favorite. Therefore, I’m inclined to anoint C. Beck as the winner, based on its consistency among the panel. The W.H. Smith placed last, and received more fourth-place votes than first-place votes (the only wine to do so).

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