September 1, 2009

Tasting Note Tuesday - A Classic Napa Cab

As I've mentioned in earlier posts, I started out enjoying Italian wines and their "old world" complexity with floral, earthy notes. However, over the past few years, I have been enjoying more of the "new world" wines with their fruit forward styles.

One of the ultimate "new world" wines are Napa Cabs. There are an abundant number of Napa cabs on the market... and a majority of them are overpriced and (unfortunately) simply average wines. Either that, or they are so good that they carry price tags of over $150.

With that being said, there are a few producers that make outstanding Napa Cabs, and do so at "reasonable" prices. Now, you won't be drinking these everyday, but they make excellent "special occasion" wines. And that's exactly why I cracked this Napa cab from Neal (yes, yours truly celebrated a birthday a few days ago and it was a good excuse to open something good).

Neal Vineyards is a smaller, family run operation that produces wonderful Napa cabs. The Neal story begins in the late 1960's with Jack Neal, who started his own vineyard management company. Jack's son, Mark, worked closely with his father until Jack's passing in the early 1990's. In 2001, Mark decided to fullfill his dream (one he shared with his father) and started his own winery. Neal Vineyards makes a handful of Napa cabs, all excellent, and all at reasonable prices. If you're looking for a fantastic Napa Cab at a reasonable price, look no further than Neal.

2003 Neal Family Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford Dust - USA, California, Napa Valley, Rutherford

Decanted for 90 minutes prior to consuming. Even after an hour, this wine didn't show much fruit. Instead, I got scents of menthol/eucalyptus, dirt/dust (no wonder they call it 'Rutherford Dust') and smoke. It wasn't until around the second hour that some fruit started to emerge. A lot of red fruits here including cassis, cherry and a hint of raisins and oak. The tannins seemed smooth, so the only reason to decant would be to bring out the fruit. The finish was long, and left you wanting more. It really brought the entire package together.

My Take: Outstanding
Cost: $66/bottle (purchased from mailing list)


decaturwineandfooddude said...

Agree with everything you've said about Neal. They manage to remain a bit of a hidden treasure. Have not had the Rutherford bottling, but have loved the '01/'02 Cabs I've had. Wish I had more as they are built to go a few years. Nice job

ratherBEEbuzzed said...

Thanks for the note. You are definitely right about them being built to age. This is one Napa cab that has the stuffing to last a bit. With all the arguments about high alcohol/fruit bomb wines not being able to stand the test of time, you can rest assured that with Neal, your patience will be rewarded!!!