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Latest Releases of Major California Cabernets Tasted in Dallas

Each fall the major California wineries producing Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet blends release their new wines. For most wineries, these  vintages are three years old. Some wineries are exceptions as they age their wines for more or less than the most popular length of time. As a result, this year most new releases are from 2008, but some 2007s, 2009s and other years can be found in the mix.

Sigel’s gathered 38 of the best and invited Dallas buyers to The Park City Club this week to sample them. I was fortunate to be invited as a guest. Attendees could also dine on the excellent heavy hors d’oeuvres of tenderloin of beef, cheeses, chicken quesadillas, and fruit.

The overall quality of the wines was exemplary. Something that prompted The Wine Spectator to  comment “2008 Cabernet Sauvignons approach 2007′s stellar quality. The 2008 vintage so far ranks among the best of the decade. Perhaps the only hurdle it faces in reaching the apex is that it stands in the shadow of the monumental 2007 vintage.”

Interestingly, although these wines are designed to age, almost all are drinkable now, especially with some fatty red meat such as rib-eye or T-Bone steak to soften the tannins. Salt on the meat also moderates the texture of tannins in the mouthfeel.

Jump for tasting notes.

These were the wines that I personally liked the most, without regard to price. The order below is mine from top down, with my scores. For information, I report the scores (out of 100) by one of three national critics where available. RP=Robert Parker. ST=Steven Tanzer. WS=Wine Spectator:

94

2009 Tor Kenward Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa ($69.99).

93

2007 Etude Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa ($84.99). 92WS

2008 Robert Craig, Affinity, Napa. ($47.99).

2008 Round Pond, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa ($49.99). 91RP.

92+

2008 Hall, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa ($48.99). 95RP

2008 Januik, Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, Washington ($34.99). 94WS. The only non-California wine in the show.

2008 Lail Cabernet Sauvignon, Cuvée John Daniel, Napa ($129.99). 93ST.

This second list is my best values of the show:

2008 Robert Craig, Affinity, Napa. ($47.99).

2008 Januik, Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, Washington ($34.99). 94WS. The only non-California wine in the show.

2006 Happy Canyon, ‘Brand’, Santa Barbara ($38.99). 91AC

2008 Steele Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Hills, Lake County. ($29.99). 90AC.

These wines are available at major Sigel’s stores now. In some cases supplies are tight due to small winery output.