California Grapevine, by Nick Ponomareff, 90pts: First Place. Medium to medium dark ruby; attractive, spicy, complex, black cherry fruit aroma with notes of dill, tobacco, dark chocolate, and toasty oak; full body; forward, rich, plush, plummy, black cherry fruit flavors with oaky undertones and hints of cassis and dried herbs; medium-full tannin; lingering aftertaste. Very highly recommended. (Group Score: 16.2, 2/1/1; My Score: 17 [90/100], first place)
Connoisseur's Guide, by Charles Olken, 92pts: Two Puffs. What strikes us most when comparing this wine to its blended companion below is that, even while moderately tannic and never less than fully ripe, it is rather more mannerly and shows a nice sense of winemaking polish. Its sensations of black cherries, currants, olives and briar that emerge in the nose are sustained across the palate and into a long, balanced finish. Set it aside in full faith that four or five years of aging will make a good thing even better.
Whitley on Wine, by Robert Whitley, 94pts: Another home run, though not as exotic and mind-blowing as the Proprietary Red Wine. The Cabernet offered a true Cabernet nose, which merely means there was a light herbal note that is typical of the grape variety, even when picked perfectly ripe. Aromas of cedar and spice are enticing, and on the palate, the wine delivers dark-fruited aromas and a meaty texture that is both delicious and compelling.
Wine Enthusiast, by Steve Heimoff, 93pts: Smooth and rich, a flashy Cabernet that impresses for sheer opulence. Notable especially for the texture, with perfectly ripe, rounded tannins, and the blackberry and cassis flavors are very fine. Another success from the fabulous 2007 vintage in Napa Valley.
Wine Spectator, by James Laube, 88pts: Complex and well-balanced, from the opening cedar, herb and tobacco scents to the trim, taut currant, mineral and dried berry flavors. Full-bodied, ending with chewy tannins. Best from 2011 through 2017. 1,360 cases made.
Wine Enthusiast, by Steve Heimoff, 96pts: Editor's Choice. Classic and harmonious, a very solid Napa 100% Cabernet that's dry and firmly tannic in the mouth. Feels balanced, harmonious, ageworthy, a wine without seams or faults. Fruity, but not overly so, with the blackberries and black currants generously balanced by herbs, minerals and cedar. Very classic and noble wine, and one to cellar through at least 2018.
Andrea Immer Robinson, 92pts: Intensely concentrated, dense and opulent, without being cloying. This wine is utterly voluptuous but maintains a dark tension to its sensuality, with scents of licorice, unsweetened baking chocolate, and thick, sweetly dense fruit on the palate cloaking velvety tannins and carrying through to the long finish.
Connoisseur's Guide, 91pts: 84% Cabernet Sauvignon; 6% Merlot; 5% Petit Verdot; 3% Cab-ernet Franc; 2% Malbec. Ripe and fruity, a touch tighter and a touch higher in cassis-like qualities, this attractive wine matches its mate in richness and overall come-hither character. One could argue that it is higher in tannin, but the astringent load here is not all that much different. Both are very attractive wines clearly going in the same direction.
Food & Wine, by Ray Isle: California Cabs to Watch. Hestan Vineyards owner Stanley Cheng (who created Circulon and Anolon cookware) recently released this new line of wines, named for his daughter. The 2005 Cabernet mingles sweet black fruit with subtle oak nuances.
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar, 91pts: Dark red. Blackberry, blueberry, mocha and a whiff of leather on the nose. Sweet, rich, velvety and deep; fat with fruit but there's solid spine underneath to give the wine shape. Really spreads out to coat the palate on the aftertaste while retaining a light touch. Finishes with compelling sweetness and broad, ripe tannins.
Wine Spectator, by James Laube, 93pts: A complex, rich and creamy-textured style, with layers of currant, mocha, wild berry and vanilla-laced oak, all folding together nicely. Tightly focused, long and persistent, with an excellent balance of tannins and acidity. Best from 2009 through 2015. 930 cases made.
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