Six reasonably-priced bottles to age for a special occasion
Here are some West Coast Cabs that are age-worthy but,relatively speaking, won’t break the bank.
Chateau Ste. Michelle Meritage 2002 (Columbia Valley, WA; $48). A massive meritage blend fromWashington’s premier big winery. Packed with fruit and tannin, butbalanced.
Clos du Bois “Marlstone” 2002 (Alexander Valley, CA; $50). Majestic structure for thefuture, but plush fruit for right now ― plums, blackcurrants, and wild berries.
Groth Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 (Oakville, Napa Valley; $55). Grown in the same neighborhoodas $100-plus cult Cabs, Groth is a deal. Great structure and solidripe berry fruit.
Louis M. Martini Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 (Napa Valley; $25). Martini reds have a solid track recordfor aging. This one is full of cassis and firm but balanced ―a steal.
Sequoia Grove Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 (Napa Valley; $32). Solid structure; luscious cassis, cocoa,and vanilla; excellent acidity.
Silverado Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 (Napa Valley; $40). Silverado has long produced elegant NapaCabs with impeccable balance, fruit, and structure.
― Karen MacNeil
New buzz for California cabs
Not long ago, if you walked into a wine shop looking for a goodCabernet that would age well ― a special bottle to hang ontofor a child’s graduation, say ― the clerk’s advice wouldlikely be: Drink California Cab now, but buy French Bordeaux to putaway. Today, thanks to a recent restaging of a legendary 1976California versus France tasting, you might hear something new.
Thirty years ago, at the “Judgment of Paris,” a CaliforniaCabernet (Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars 1973 S.L.V.) stunned the judges― many of whom were French ― by scoring higher than anyBordeaux in the lineup. According to Karen MacNeil, author of The Wine Bible and longtime Sunset contributor, right after outrage in France camedisbelief. It was a fluke; a New World wine couldn’t possibly havefairly swept the field.
The French found a way to live with it, though. Their theory:All about fruit, California wines show well when they’re young.More minerally, with firmer tannins, Bordeaux are made to age.Stage the tasting with some years on the wines, and the Californiawines wouldn’t hold up.