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Smith & Hook Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
To give this powerful Central Coast Cab balance and complexity, the grapes are selected from four distinguished AVAs which have a particular affinity with Cabernet Sauvignon: Pasos Robles, Arroyo Seco, San Antonio Valley and Hames Valley. Each area adds a unique facet to the wine’s complex personality; Paso Robles is known for its big and bold Cabs, while Arroyo Seco grapes add a firm structure and fruit from San Antonio Valley and Hames Valley contribute rich dark berry, dried fruit and spicy flavours. To ensure these different elements are well-integrated, the wine is barrel-fermented and then aged in French oak barrels for 10 months.
The result is a hearty, full-bodied wine bursting with intense aromas and flavours. The nose displays intricate layers of freshly-ground coffee, toast, dark chocolate and blackcurrant jam which evolve into sweet dark berries, vanilla and licorice on the palate. Firm tannins and robust fruit flavours make this an excellent match for braised ribs or earthy game dishes.
Smith & Hook takes its name from two former cattle ranches in the Santa Lucia Highlands which were purchased by Nicky and Gaby Hahn in 1980 after they noticed the untapped winemaking potential of the local area. Recently recognised as an “American Wine Pioneer” by Wine Enthusiast magazine, Nicky successfully lead the campaign to have Santa Lucia recognised as an AVA in 1991. With nearly forty years of winemaking experience in the Central Coast area, the family-run business is now in the capable hands of the Hahns’ son, Philip.
Jacuzzi Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
This powerful Cabernet opens with enticing notes of cassis, crushed blackberries and dark plums while on the palate there are hints of cracked black peppercorns, green bell pepper, and sweet spices. The first sip reveals a generous full body, smooth tannins, and a well-developed structure which will help the wine to age gracefully over the next five or so years.
The fruit for this wine is sourced from the 20 year old Campbell vineyard which is planted on the old sand dunes that characterise the land around the town of Knightsen. The white sand reflects sunlight during the summer days, helping the grapes to ripen perfectly, and cooling breezes from the nearby river help to preserve freshness and balance. Before bottling the young wine is aged in oak barrels for 15 months to add extra complexity and depth.
The Jacuzzi Family Vineyards was established in 2005 by Fred and Nancy Cline in homage to Fred’s grandfather, Valeriano Jacuzzi, who with his brothers created the spa baths that bear his name. The property was built in the Tuscan style and modelled on the Jacuzzi family’s ancestral home in Italy. Today Fred and Nancy continue to honour their Italian heritage by making American wines with a Tuscan soul.
Round Pond Kith & Kin Cabernet Sauvignon 2017
Round Pound winery was founded in the early 1980s after Bob and Jan MacDonnell purchased their first plot in Napa’s prized Rutherford Valley. Today the property has grown to a 468-acre farm and winery run by Bob and Jan’s children, Miles MacDonnell and Ryan MacDonnell. The estate is blessed with exceptional alluvial soils thanks to the nearby Conn Creek and Napa River which left deposits here thousands of years ago.
This powerful Cabernet is named after the Old English for “friends and family”, a reference to the fact that the fruit is sourced from across the Napa Valley yet retains a hearty Rutherford soul. The bottling is inspired by the very first wine made by the MacDonnells on the estate in 1992 which was initially just made to be shared with friends and family.
The nose explodes with ripe cassis, blackberries and dark cherries while the first sip reveals a full body, firm tannins, and well-defined structure which will respond very well to further cellaring over the next eight years or so. Bold and full-flavoured with plenty of juicy dark fruit, this is a great wine to enjoy alongside a prime steak and fries or generous platter of succulent barbecued ribs.
Duckhorn Decoy Cabernet Sauvignon 2017
This deep crimson Cabernet exudes opulent aromas of blackcurrants, cherry jam and dark chocolate which mingle with warming cinnamon and nutmeg. The palate is dominated by luscious dark fruit and gentle hints of baking spices, star anise and coffee. To create a wine that is both approachable and surprisingly complex, Duckhorn ages the wine for 10 months in French oak barrels to give firm tannins and a velvety smooth finish.
The winery also adds a splash of Merlot to the Cabernet Sauvignon to enhance the intense dark fruit character and to give a certain silky softness to this full-bodied wine. Blessed with a friendly, easy-going personality, this charming Cab is equally at home being sipped by the fireside or paired with a fine steak.
Founded by Dan and Margaret Duckhorn in the late 1970s, Duckhorn Vineyards has become a point of reference for premium Napa Valley Merlot. Drawing on the wealth of knowledge and expertise accumulated by their team working in Napa, the couple also have a base in Sonoma County where they produce their Decoy wines. Here the focus is on crafting well-made Bordeaux varietals that are ready to be drunk upon release and offer incredible value for money.
Orin Swift Cabernet Sauvignon Palermo 2017
Needs an hour to open up, decant if unable to wait.
Of all the wines that Dave Phinney makes, he looks to this wine to be his most diverse Cabernet Sauvignon. He meticulously selects grapes from the major growing regions of Napa Valley using his expansive network of vineyards. This exhaustive work is meant to showcase the vast styles, microclimates and soil profiles of these vineyards. Like a mad scientist, the wines from different sites are blended together to find the perfect balance.
With two consecutive near perfect harvests, this may be the best Cabernet Sauvignon ever made by Orin Swift.
The nose and taste are as you would hope for and expect from a quality Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Toasted oak and ripe dark berries linger on the nose with a subtle touch of cassis. When tasted, the wine does not attack. It gently lingers on the palate for a moment before evolving into a full and serious wine with amazing concentration of flavor. The flavors that are most prevalent include kirsch/cherry notes, black currant, raspberry and a welcome slightly dusty finish.
The lively tannins and dark fruit make it a phenomenal accompaniment to fattier red meat dishes like grilled lamb chops or a hanger steak. The tannins will cut through the glycerol mouth feel of the fattiness and clear the palate for the next bite.
Orin Swift Cellars is owned and operated by David Swift Phinney. After falling in love with wine on a trip to Florence, Italy, he worked as a temporary harvester for Robert Mondavi Winery before starting Orin Swift Cellars in 1998. Orin comes from his father’s middle name while Swift is his mother’s maiden name.
689 Cellars Submission Cabernet Sauvignon 2017
689 Cellars is an exciting project based in California with a name inspired by its founders’ travels in Asia where they were struck by the ancient wisdom and traditions which still play an important role in everyday life. The numbers six, eight and nine are regarded as lucky in Chinese culture; six is connected with happiness and assists us in moving through life with luck and success while the symmetrical shape of number eight hints at eternity and unlimited opportunities. Finally, nine is linked to longevity and is seen as the luckiest number of all.
All of this good fortune manifests itself in the delicious wines made by 689 Cellars from prime Californian grapes. Their Submission Cabernet Sauvignon is a robust, full-flavoured single varietal wine crafted from Sonoma, Napa, Paso Robles and Lodi fruit.
On the nose there are intense notes of cassis, blackberry and crushed cherries while the first sip reveals firm tannins, a generous full body and intense jammy berry flavours which linger long on the palate. Subtle oaky hints blend seamlessly with plum and dark berries, making this a great match for burgers, barbecued ribs or hearty tomato-based pasta dishes.