Everyday Value: Neil Ellis Left Bank Western Cape, S.A., 2007 (about $13) – 57% Cabernet, 33% Syrah, 10% - here you have a new wine by the famed S. African winemaker Neil Ellis. Paying a bit of tribute to the left bank producers of Bordeaux with this elegant blend, Neil Ellis is able to give us what S.A. is really best at – a combination of Old World refinement and New World power. Juicy and rich with loads of soft fruit – great wine for a great price.
Premium: Reschke Bos Cabernet Sauvignon Coonawarra, South Australia, 2002 (about $30) – 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from a small winery located in the Coonawarra region of S. Australia. Coming from a 100 year old farm, but 20 year old winery, this wine showed great finesse and balance for an Aussie Cab. Being 6 years post harvest, I was expecting something with a bit of softness and a touch of earthiness. When I opened the bottle there was an immediate release of black fruits and sweat dried leaves mixed with a touch of compost: all things I greatly enjoy in aged Cabs. I decanted and tasted over several hours. The wine's initial restraint relaxed and opened into a smooth claret style cab that had a touch of the Coonawarra "mint" at the beginning, but which evolved into juicy black cherry, boysenberry and plum flavors. The wine spent time in mostly new French and some new American hogs heads. Smooth ripe tannins, deep fruit wrapped around great weight/mouthfeel in this wine - a truly pleasurable wine - wish I had more. This wine finished in a medium-full, dry style that would work extremely well with a bit of dry-aged beef. Very tasty.
Ultra Premium: Sequoia Grove Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Rutherford, 2004 (about $65) – 80% Cab Sauv., 10% Merlot, 8% Cab Franc, 1% Petit Verdot, 10% Malbec - 20 months in barriques - this is what I think of when I think of really good Napa Cabernet. Exceptional balance and depth in this wine – the fruit is just pure and deep, but not overwhelming. Dark berries and plums mixed with some sweet vanilla – medium weight tannins and a finish that just lasts. Cellar for 5-10 years.