Ask wine drinkers where the best California Cabernet comes from and it’s very likely that the majority will answer:  Napa Valley of course. And they couldn’t be faulted for that.  Like them, I love Napa Cabernet.   What I don’t think you’ll hear many answer is:  Sonoma!  And that’s a shame, because while it may not have the cachet, the quality is often times as good or better and the wines are not nearly as expensive. 
Here are two recent tastes of Sonoma Cabernets that were just lovely. 

The 2003 Arrowood Cabernet Reserve is deep, dark blackish purple in the glass.  Ripe aromas of crushed blackberry, licorice, mineral and leather lift from the glass.  In the mouth the wine is ripe, juicy and full bodied. Tannic, but well balanced, the wine has a vast structure.  Flavors follow the nose, but add a toasty coffee aspect that is very appealing.  Really sang with braised beef short ribs.  Can easily be cellared another 5-10 years, but it’s very enjoyable now.  And here’s where I make my argument. A wine of this quality would probably be $100-$150 if the word “Napa” were on the label.  And that’s fine, I can’t blame them for pricing their “brand” to what the market will bear.  Fortunately for savvy wine lovers, we are not forced to belong to the market.  Hmm, a novel idea which sounds vaguely familiar??  But I digress…  
$50 – 94 points.  

2003 Arrowood Cabernet Reserve

The second example is the 2007 Dry Creek Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.  This is 100% Sonoma, Dry Creek Valley fruit.  In the glass, it’s deep violet red.  The nose offers pleasing aromas of black fruits, slight dark chocolate, and warm toast.  In the mouth, the black fruit flavors seem “covered” in dust – the texture of the wine is very appealing and very typical of Dry Creek Valley terroir. There’s also a dusty cocoa powder element to the finish.  Elegant, more on the graceful, than brawny side; this accompanied a grilled NY strip incredibly well.  I would challenge someone to find a Napa Cabernet that drinks this well at $18 per bottle. Again, if the word “Napa” were on this label, the wine would cost $30-$40.   91 points. 

2007 Dry Creek Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon – sporting spiffy new label

Lastly, a shot of the meal this beauty accompanied.  Sure, grilling a nice steak isn’t the most culinary adventurous thing in the world – but as a friend once said, it’s hard to beat “Cab and Cow”. 
Spring has sprung – the grill is cleaned, and it is ready!

E Vero!

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