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CLONYC #5 - Target $40-$60 Napa Cabernets that drink like $100

Target: $40-$60 Napa Caberents that drink like $100

All notes courtesy Ben Sherwin

The idea for this one was to bring a circa $50 Cab that tastes like twice the price. I have to say that if that was the goal, then we were unsuccessful. For my money, the only 2 that I'd pay more than $50 for were the Ramey and the KL, both of which were outstanding and head and shoulders above the crowd. That said, none of the wines really disappointed (other than a corked Seavey) and I think they were about what you'd expect at the price point. As always, it was a fun time. I especially enjoyed teasing Greg since he couldn't fight back with his wife there. Thanks as always to Mike for the great organizational skills and the great booklets!
1997 Random Ridge Cabernets - USA, California, Napa Valley, Mt. Veeder- This was a well-made wine that got better over the night. It had some nice aromatics of black fruit and a bit of dill. The problem with this wine is the fruit in the mouth. It's not that the fruit was tired and, in fact, there seemed to be some deep fruit hinted at. The problem was the tannins; I found it really chalky. I'm not sure this wasn't a situation where you had ripe fruit and unripe tannins (although I'm not sure how that could happen in '97). It did seem to smooth out a bit at the end of the night, but never really to the point where the fruit was set free. I'd say hold or decant. For some reason my notes read "Best wine of month. A Shocker! Thanks Ray." I must have had more wine than I thought because I don't remember writing that.
2001 Bacio Divino - USA, California, Napa Valley- I think this suffered for being served before food. It had some nice aromatics of black fruit, herbs and cedar. It starts out pretty well, medium to full bodied, but it seemed to shut down and lose the fruit in the middle of the palate. The fruit comes back at the end and lands you with some oak induced brown sugar, but not enough to really save it. The one interesting thing about this wine is the underlying acidity which I assume comes from the high level of Sangiovese (22%), but I think that was lost without food. Still pretty tannic, I think some short-term cellaring may stitch the seams.
2001 Forman Cabernet Sauvignon - USA, California, Napa Valley-Pretty disappointing given some of the praise I've heard. This was decent, but that is about all. It was a bit herbal and underfruited. Decent mouthfeel which I think was more attributable to the tannins than anything else. It kind of felt like a failed effort to make an elegant wine or a bad year BDX. On the bright side, if you're into leather, this is the wine for you.
2002 Corison Cabernet Sauvignon - USA, California, Napa Valley-This is a delicate wine through and through. The nose was initially shy and surprisingly red fruited with sweet cherry, herbs and loam. I also picked up a hint of camphor or mint. The fruit is very soft in the mouth where it darkens to cassis. My only complaint was the chalky tannins that interfere with the delicate balance on the finish. Air certainly benefited this wine as did food. Not quite seamless, but a well-structured, polished effort. 3rd Place WOTN
2002 Ramey Diamond Mountain - USA, California, Napa Valley- Diamond Mountain- An excellent showing for an excellent wine. It boasts a phenomenal nose of ample black fruit, smoke and spice (nutmeg/cloves). The fruit is lively and complex in the mouth with cassis, black cherry, tobacco and earth. An irrepressible youngster, this will get even better with short-term cellaring. From the first sniff to the lingering finish this wine is outstanding. WOTN
2002 Philip Togni Cabernet Sauvignon Tanbark Hill - USA, California, Napa Valley- Not a bad wine, but a bit linear. This doesn't strike me as a very Togni wine and I'm not surprised that he declassified the fruit down to the TH. There is plenty of ripe cassis, leather and spice. There is also a surprising amount of oak, although it's not an oak bomb. Decent finish and structure.
Steve's Mystery Wine; Served blind with the hint that it was Napa Cab. The nose was a bit reductive with a hint of camphor. The fruit is black, dense and a little brambly. The finish was a bit dusty at first had me thinking Rutherford, but when Steve said no I figured it must be mountain fruit and guessed Spring Mountain. Having narrowed it down it was pretty easy to pick in as a Pride. I was totally lost on the year though. Overall, a bit simple but not bad. My guess was Pride and it was...1995 Pride Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon.
Kevin's Mystery Wine; Black fruit, licorice and slate on the nose. In the mouth it has decent body and flavors of creme de cassis. Not at all reductive, but certainly liqueurish. I guessed Sonoma Cab, but that as was as close as I got. It was revealed to be...1994 Gallo of Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon Estate.
2002 O'Shaughnessy Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain
- USA, California, Napa Valley, Howell Mountain-You have to love Howell Mountain fruit, but it takes a while to come around. Big tarry, brambly nose. The wine is somewhat fleshy for all that tannic power with sweet, liqueurish black fruit. Finish with a bit too much grip at this point and aging will be appreciated.
2002 Karl Lawrence Cabernet Sauvignon - USA, California, Napa Valley-Great perfumed nose of dark fruit (currant, cherry) with some mocha and cedar notes as well. I just love the weight of this in the mouth as the ripe fruit flavors expands over the palate. The tannins are ripe and still a bit firm despite air time. Great juice. 2nd Place WOTN