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Californian Cabernet vs France

by Tom Cannavan, 09/1996

This was a double blind tasting of mostly Californian cabernets/Bordeaux blends, with an unknown number of "ringers" thrown in. These turned out to be 2 Bordeaux and a Châteauneuf-du-Pape. A nice surprise at the end was a tasting of Veuve Clicquot 1989.

Flora Springs (Napa), Trilogy 1993 - £15.99
Dense, even purple/black colour. Big waft of blackcurrants on the nose. Very pure blackcurrant character on the palate too. Subtly, spicy oak flavours in the backgound to the fruit, but a raft of tannins and good acidity in the finish. Needs time.

Les Pagodes de Cos (2nd wine of Cos d'Estournel), St-Estèphe 1994 - £14.99
Dense even purple/black colour. Big, vegetal, stinky, burnt rubber notes on the nose with a smoky element too. Chewy and dense with nice licorice and smoke flavours and underpinned by black fruit. Young, a bit unapproachable, but good. Young Bordeaux?. Cabernet Franc influence?

Viader (Napa), Proprietor's Reserve Red 1994 - £18.99
Even black/purple colour . Sweet, minty, cool nose with nice blackcurrant fruit. Very pure creamy cassis fruit on the palate, a little thin, but well balanced. Hefty tannin in the finish, but a very nicely integrated package. Good length. Nice wine - is this another Bordeaux?

Viader (Napa), Proprietor's Reserve Red 1993 - £18.99
Very saturated purple/black. Intense, smooth blackcurrant nose. Gorgeous smooth, integrated berry flavours against creamy vanilla oak and firm tannins. Assertive acids in the finish, which is a bit short. A very tasty wine.

Pahlmeyer (Napa), Proprietor's Red 1993 - £22.99
Dense black colour. Very heady aromas of crunchy blackcurrant fruit on the nose. Lovely balance of acidity and black fruits with integrated fine tannin. Concentrated and quite complex with a decent finish, acids persisting, but subdued. Very good. A Bordeaux or a good likeness.

Wing Canyon (Napa) 1993 - £22.99
Another purple/black youthful colour. Lovely cedary aromas with smoky cassis fruit. A heavy mouthful of chewy cabernet. Great concentration and fine length. Pretty high extraction with loads of flavour. Nice fruity finish. Very good.

Wing Canyon (Napa) 1992 - £18.99
Slightly lighter, older colour but still very vibrant. Huge barnyard nose. Rather brutish. Lovely on the palate. Full bodied, pure cassis and cream flavours, pin-points of acidity. Beautifully sweet fruit and acid evident in the long finish. Good concentration.

Mondavi (Napa), Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon 1992 - £19.99
Dense, dense purple/black. Pure cabernet fruit with a distinct minty edge. Warm and luscious, velvety mouthful with big, fine, drying tannins in the finish. Nuances of bitter dark chocolate. Really refined, integrated and concentrated Superb: favourite wine so far tonight.

Château Talbot, 3rd Growth, St-Julien 1989 - £28.99
Older wine with ruby red colour tinged with brown. Big stinky barnyard nose, reeking of burnt rubber. Creamy palate, but a grilled meat, beef character. There is sweet fruit around the edges and a long, spicy finish. Some strawberry, cherry fruit developing, but also vegetal, briary notes hanging on. A bit strange this one.
N.B. Note sure if this bottle slightly tainted. Tasted from 2nd bottle and vegetal notes much less pronounced.

Château La Nerthe, (CNdP) "Cuveé des Cadettes" 1993 - £19.99
Very dark blue/black colour. Gorgeously sweet almost confected nose. This isn't Orion is it? Very sweet on the palate too with striking alcohol and extraction and a barrow-load of crunchy fruit - pomegranates??? Good alcoholic finish, tart acids, little tannin. This isn't cabernet. Really quite lovely in a high octane sort of way.

Veuve Clicquot, Ponsardin Vintage Champagne 1989 (Magnum) - £50.00
Darkish gold/biscuit colour. Lovely hazelnut and biscuit aromas. Quite full in the mouth with lovely mousse. Hints of minerals and apples on the palate. Very delicious, very long, very good.
Not served blind.