Sunday, December 4, 2011

Friday Night's Alright for Cabing

The Usuals came over Friday night to kick off the weekend with our bi-monthly large group blind tasting. This time we were tasting Cabernet Sauvignon. Unfortunately, Ted and Shannon were not available to defend their UN-DE-FEAT-ED (boom, boom, boom-boom-boom) blind tasting record. On the plus side, Jose would be able to make it. You would think by now I would have had enough blind tastings, but I've yet to come to that point. Actually, I wanted to meet more frequently with the Usuals, but they thought once every couple of months was fine. What LameOs! Don't Cry for Me Argentina, there are always intimate tastings.

Since we were tasting cabs, I wanted to make certain each wine had at least an hour in the decanter to open up. I told everyone to either be there by 6 or arrange to get me their bottle and decanter before then. Everyone but Paul agreed to be there by 6; he brought his wine and decanter in to work on Friday.

We had been experiencing high winds that blew a number of the snowflakes lights on to the roof. Park and I fixed these before everyone arrived.

The house was nicely decorated, thanks to Sue's and the kid's handiwork.

Bob and Carolyn brought a wonderful cheese plate. Michel brought some yummy salmon.

Bob and Michel prepare their dishes

Since it was cold outside, we set up in the family room. It wasn't ideal, but it seemed to work. We set about the task of tasting the 8 offerings, all the while enjoying each other's company, coupled with cheese and salmon.

We tallied the results and ripped open the bags.

Afterward, Sue served us some lovely steak, with shrimp, potatoes, and salad.


Ratings Using Averages

Top to Bottom from Left to Right

C - 2007 Dry Creek, Dry Creek Valley came in first place with an average rating of 3.66. Bob and CJ brought this. It cost $20. Bob wanted to pick up a $20 Kendall Jackson at BevMo after we had chanced on its low cost and high rating, but they didn't have it; the Dry Creek was on sale for $20 with a 95 from Wilford Wong, which seemed like a no-brainer to him.

A - 2005 Duckhorn, Napa Valley came in second place with an average rating of 3.43. Bob and CJ also brought this. It cost $65. Bob picked this up at a liquor store on Ralston that had a good selection of pricey cabs. The Duckhorn had a decent rating of 90 from Wine Spectator and cost below $100.

H - 2007 Stonestreet, Monument Ridge, Alexander Mountain Estate came in third place with an average rating of 3.09. Jose brought this because it was rated 96 from Wine Enthusiast and 95 from Parker. It cost $40 from K&L.

D - 2006 Picchetti, Leslie's Estate, Santa Cruz Mountains came in fourth place with an average rating of 3.06, .03 from third. Sue and I brought this. I believe it cost $40 club case price. We had this in our cellar and figured it would be fun to compare another wine from Monte Bello road.

G - 2009 Caton, Upper Bench, Sonoma Valley came in fifth place with an average rating of 2.89. Michel brought this. It cost $48. He picked this up while tasting at the winery.

F - 2006 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars, S.L.V., Estate, Napa Valley came in sixth place with an average rating of 2.84, .05 from fifth. Paul and Jennifer brought this. It cost $110.

E - 2006 Ridge, Monte Bello came in seventh place with an average rating of 2.74. Sue and I brought this. I believe it cost $90 on a great 30% off all wine before noon sale at Whole Foods. K&L sells it for $115, noting Parker gave it a 94+. I've always wanted to try one of these and the sale encouraged me to go crazy. I bought this 3 months ago, knowing we would eventually get to cabs.

B - 2005 Kathryn Kennedy came in last place with an average rating of 2.71. Sue and I brought this. I believe it cost $90 at the same sale I picked up the Monte Bello at. I've seen these bottles go from $120 to $150. Jose and I have indulged in one of these twice: His 50th and Lili's 50th. I don't care what the ratings say, this is a great bottle of wine.

The Results in Ted's Trademarked Format

The Aftermath

Bob and CJ brought #1, and #2! Congratulations!, you rats. :)

After the ratings came out, I was a little shocked. I couldn't believe a Dry Creek was even in the game. It had won two previous Zin tastings. I didn't even know they made a Cab. And wow, a $20 wine wins. Just wow!

I was a little disappointed as well. I was hoping to share some wonderful bottles with my friends. I'm glad I brought what I did, but you have to wonder how wonderful they were when they came in last. In fairness they claim a Monte Bello should be cellars for at least 8 years. We'll see how the one Bob and CJ gave me for my 40th tastes when I'm 50.

Paul was not happy that Jose had given his bottle a 1. They experimented with throwing out the lowest and highest scores before averaging, but this only moved the Stag's Leap up to 5th. It can be frustrating to have a wine you love rated lower than you would like.

Ratings Using Ave Removing Min & Max


Again we proved that cost of a wine doesn't necessarily matter. A mitigating factor here was that we drank some of the more expensive wine probably years before they were at their peak. That said it's hard to argue with a $20 bottle of wine that's ready to drink today, versus a $100 bottle of wine that needs 10 years of cellaring.


After everyone but Jose and Michel had left, I pulled out a couple of Zins from Nicholson I had picked up with Jose in mind on the Windy Oaks trip, which Jose could unfortunately not attend. We split on which one's we liked. He preferred the more jammy one. I sent them both home with Jose.

We also finally got to try out the Palo Alto I had picked up at the BevMo 5 cent sale. This is a wine Jose and I have fond memories of. I'm a little fuzzy on it, but Jose remembers no one liking it. I still have another bottle. I'll open it some time I haven't already tasted 12 bottles.