Last Saturday I offered to help tasting team member The Cabinator with some chores at his new house. He and Glorious T had just moved to a beautiful new home, but the strain was beginning to show. It’s not easy to coordinate selling a house, moving all your belongings and trying to juggle work responsibilities at the same time.
I was ready to roll up my sleeves and pitch in on a long workday. But The Cabinator indicated there was a problem. Austin Beeman had scheduled the Mother of All Cabernet tastings at Churchill’s in Maumee. We would work on the important task of assembling a coffee table, but quickly then shoot out to WCM in Maumee. The Cabinator needed his “medicine.”
You know, I love delicate wines with floating flavors of spring flowers, rare spices and wafts of faint sea breezes (pinky is raised!). And then there are times where I just want Cab, real CAB that coats the palate and satisfies the soul -- Cabernet Sauvignon with power from cork pop until the last drop.
The lineup for Churchill’s Iconic Cabernet Tasting was impressive and seemed to fill the need:
- Cakebread Cellars 2009 Cabernet
- Chimney Rock 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Stag’s Leap
- Chateau St. Jean 2010 Cinq Cepages
- World’s End 2009 Good Times, Bad Times Cabernet, To Kalon Vineyard
- Robert Mondavi 2009 Napa Valley Reserve Cabernet
- Opus One 2010
It was a substantial stable of Cabs. The price of the tasting was top shelf as well, at $65.
From the first sip, it was an outrageously good tasting. Cakebread Cellars was a clear trumpet call announcing Napa Valley goodness. I have become a real fan of Chimney Rock since selecting it for a board meeting dinner more than a year ago. Stag’s Leap is an impressive wine region producing perhaps the best Cabs in Napa Valley. It’s well worth the $140 price tag.
I had heard about Chateau St. Jean Cinq Cepages, but never had the chance to taste it until now. This is a blend using all five of the traditional Bordeaux grapes. It has dark berry flavors mixed with delicious chocolate.
The showstopper for us was the World’s End Good Times, Bad Times To Kalon Vineyard Cab. When you have a wine named after a Led Zeppelin tune, it better be something that rocks – and it did! I was surprised that I had never heard of World’s End, but Austin explained that it is a relatively new winery headed by Bordeaux winemaker Jonathan Maltus.
The grapes come from the legendary To Kalon Vineyard. There were no “bad times” with this World’s End Cab. The flavors were supple and rich blackberry with currants. The finish was unceasing. It really is one of the best Cabs I’ve tasted – and a good bargain at $100.
Many people evaluate Mondavi wines on their mass market wines, but have no idea that Mondavi’s upper echelon wines are superb. The Robert Mondavi 2009 Napa Valley Reserve is beautifully balanced with flavors of black cherry, earth and bit of smoke. A top wine for sure, but at $135 it did not outshine the World’s End.
Radiating its awesomeness over the entire tasting was the closing act: Opus One 2010. Opus One was America’s first ultra-premium wine when it debuted in 1984 as a partnership between Chateau Phillippe de Rothschild and Robert Mondavi. Back then it sold for the outrageous price of more than $50 a bottle. Today it sells for $240. A two-ounce sample at the tasting cost $25.
This is a wine that is just about perfect. It glides over the tongue with a velvety texture. Blackberry and coffee flavors swirl with just a hint of herbs. This is a wine that delights the soul.
When the final drop was drained we scoured the shelves for a purchase. Our wallets were a bit drained too by the cost of the tasting, so we each grabbed a bottle of the World’s End If Six Was Nine Reserve Cabernet at a more moderate $42 cost as well as Randall Grahm’s latest wine, Bonny Doon 2012 A Proper Claret.
Each of the Cabs earns a TWAV seal of approval, but our insider tip is to prepare for “World’s End!”