What I look for in “Napa Cab” & My Definition thereof…

This post for Vineyard Vlog is an anomaly, as there is no video and only 1 picture from the actual event, which I did not take.   My attendance of this event is all due to  Margie Tosch of The Wine & Hospitaily Network who I thank, as we won these tickets from her organization.

While VineyardVlog is not a site about wine ratings and reviews – I did want to exercise my ability to taste wine, which I am well practiced :).  But what is more, is that I took this opportunity to exercise my palate and illuminate the luxury of what it means to be a Napa Cab – that after all was the premise of this event.

Cab is a workhorse.  It  grows relatively easy and can make fruity, inky, and  texturally dynamic wine.  But I’d like to distinguish Cabernet Sauvignon from Cab.  Cab in my eyes is West Coast, it is new world, and it is known as a gem prevalently found in the Napa Valley.    Not that Cab can’t be good from Washington State (cause it is) but it’s also good in Bordeaux, and many other places.

However Napa Cab, for my palate, is all about the “chewyness”.  Chewy is a term you learn early on in Napa.  It is not in the books and it’s definition is loosely interpreted, but “Chewy” is what I look for.  The grapes here are deep colored, lively, RIPE, and teeming with succulence.    They are in your face and make some well structured wine with amazing depth, texture, and an extraordinary palate experience.

So at this event, I was looking for the Monster in a bottle. A wine that intimidates the steak on your plate, and a wine that goes down your throat and leaves you pursing your mouth and chewing on a residue of gritty succulence. An experience of deeply extracted, terroir influenced, dusty cabs that are all so particular to Napa.

The Hunt for the Jammy, Chewy, and deeply extracted Napa Cab begins:

Picture Taken by Jerae Knutson (thanks!)

All the tables were alphabetically laid out in a clockwise fashion, so starting with the letter “A” we begin the tasting.  However, I am not going to tell you about all the wines.  You can see my wine stained notes in the image below titled “notes”, and see some of my personal remarks. (the image is clickable to zoom in)

So here is a list of the standout wines from my notes and palate.  The wines below, I will define as Chewy or exemplary *BIG*  Napa Cabs.   Per the event guidelines, all wines are 2006 vintage, but a few were not..

  • Ackerman 04 – Lively and Layered (vintage should not have been at the show, but not my problem)
  • Calistoga Cellars 06 –  This was “Chewy” structured, gritty – spot on.
  • G-Cook Cab 06 – I really enjoyed this wine, I revisited it at the end and was less impressed, but a retail of $27.00 makes this a GREAT Napa CAB.
  • Cobblestone Reserve 06 – Structure, Blackberry/Brambly
  • Hawkstone 06 – I believe this was the official “winner” of the event. My note is that it had a full palate and good balance – BUT was NOT big and chewy
  • Howell At The Moon 06 – Great extraction.  This is Howell Mtn Fruit – The elevation, Hill side slopes, and vine struggle, make for rich grapes – a no-brainer.
  • Jarvis 06 – I was taken back by this wine.  Not overly extracted, but great quality wine that I am very OK with having on this list of exemplary Napa Cabs
  • Levendi 06 – Sweet Water Ranch Solid – well extracted
  • PerryMoore 06 –  Dr Crane Vyd – The New kid on the block. Not overly textural or extracted, but definitely a show highlight.
  • Prime 06 – Coombsville-  Not Chewy in my book- but a good Napa Cab
  • Reynolds Family 06 – Estate Select – Solid Wine, Good Extraction and Balance

Once I got to the “R” section of the tent, people started breaking down their tables, and I was dashing around to taste what I could.  So I apologize to all of the wineries after the “R” section as I probably did not get to try your wine, or got the table scraps.

Thanks for reading – I hope this can provide a reference for other people looking for a delicious bottles of hedonism, also known as Napa Cab.  I look forward to people’s comments on their favorite chewy cab, and am curious where people think other good chewy wines are being made.

Taste every glass like it is your last, and share every bottle as if it will never run out.

~Andrew Lazorchak

Vineyard Vlog & Soiree

*Disclaimer:  One of the most remarkable cabs I had at a different Cab tasting was one from Paso Robles, I am not a Napa advocate.  Further, I have had a few bottles of Napa Cab that have truly blown me away – none of them were at this event unfortunately.  No tasting or event can capture a sliver of the great world of wine – as my notes say.  Stay versatile and drink with an open mind.

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