California Cab 2020

California Cabernet Sauvignon - 2020


The Fifty Best California Sauvignon Tasting of 2020


The Tasting:
The Fifty Best held a “blind” tasting of 7 recent release cabernet sauvignon wines from Californa (priced at under $100 pre-tax), with 14 members of our wine judging panel. The order of service was established beforehand by lottery. Strict tasting rules were applied. Each of the wines were poured into fresh glasses from new sealed bottles. Only ice water and crusty white peasant bread were available to cleanse the palate.

The judges wrote down their impressions of each wine on score sheets. The scoring was done on a 5-point system, with 5 as the highest. Double-Gold, Gold and Silver medals are awarded based on a set range of final point scores received from the judges. There were no Bronze medals awarded.

The tasting notes that follow are summaries of the judges’ opinions, with all replicated commentary eliminated. Prices indicated do not include tax.



Lorenzi Estate 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon
Reserve Single Vineyard

(Temecula Valley)  $95

This wine was fermented and aged for 26 months in French oak (75% new) and then bottle–aged for an additional 18 months before release.

Aroma: Plum, Asian plum, lovely cherry, pomegranate, blackberry, violet, floral, fresh herbs, hint of mint, white pepper, soil, smoke, burnt wood, oaky.

Palate: Plums, black plum, raspberry, cassis, balanced fruit, dried cherry, honey, vanilla, roasted pepper, bright pepper, clove, burnt popcorn, wood, toasted oak, elegant.

Finish: Black cherry, berries, prunes, dates, enveloping dark fruit, mint, subtle cinnamon, earthy, smoke, nice tannin, woody, nice all around, smooth, elegant.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal

Lorenzi Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Single Vineyard



Shibumi Knoll 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon
(Calistoga, Napa Valley)  $95

Grapes for this wine (100% Cabernet Sauvignon) hailed from a ¾ acre portion of a two acre vineyard in Napa Valley. Following fermentation, the wine was aged in a combination of new and neutral French oak barrels for 20 months before bottling.

Aroma: Cherry, concentrated plum, rich currant, black currant, blackberries, slight floral, green pepper, vegetal, cinnamon, baking spices, graphite, earthy, under fallen leaves, soil, smoke, oak, plump, sumptuous.

Palate: Black cherry, cherry undertones, ripe plums, rich ripe blackberry, pomegranate, grape shines, dried fruit, vanilla, mocha, some rum, herbaceous, anise, green pepper, spicy, graphite, gravel, saline, touch of oak, nice acidity, balanced, chewy, pretty bright, smooth, mellow.

Finish: Cherry, black cherry, plums, vanilla, lemon zest, tangy, oregano, oak barrel, oaky, smooth, good with food, elegant.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Shibumi Knoll Cabernet Sauvignon

CULT 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon
(3 California wine regions)  $18

This wine was made from a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (83%), Petite Sirah (8%), Merlot (5%) and Syrah (4%) grapes, that following fermentation were aged in French (50%) and American (50%) oak for 15 months prior to bottling.

Aroma: Cherry, black cherry, plum, raspberry, dried figs, vanilla, violets, eucalyptus, licorice, spicy, mineral, earthy, funky.

Palate: Cherry, dried cranberry, mild citrus, spring flowers, floral, vanilla, mocha, thyme, spicy, earthy, toasted oak, good tannin, balanced, zesty, smooth, mellow.

Finish: Blueberry, rich saddle, lightly toasted oak, nice tannin, clean, soft, can drink this all night.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

CULT Cabernet Sauvignon

Grgich Hills Estate 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon
(Napa Valley)  $72

For this wine, certified organic grapes (86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot and 3% Cabernet Franc) from vineyards in Yountville (primarily), Rutherford and Calistoga were fermented using indigenous yeast. Following fermentation, the wine was aged in French oak (60% new) for 21 months before bottling.

Aroma: Cherry, black cherry, dark cherry, sour cherry, ripe plums, currant, melon, sweet pepper, chocolate, mocha, vanilla bean, herbaceous, funky.

Palate: Ripe cherries, raspberry, blackberry, plums, raisins, dried figs, coconut & cream, vanilla, herbaceous, vegetal, peppery, clove, mineral, saline, earthy tones, oaky, balanced, well made.

Finish: Cherry, molasses, smoky, tannic, nice finish, smooth, elegant.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Grgich Hills Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

Ghost Block 2016 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
(Oakville, Napa Valley)  $65

This wine was made from a blend of 94% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Malbec and 3% Petite Verdot grapes primarily from the 30 year-old family-owned Rock Cairn Vineyard. Following fermentation, the wine was aged for 24 months in French oak (60% new) before bottling.

Aroma: Cherry, black cherry, plum, ripe plums, cassis, raspberry, blackberry, berry smoothie, vanilla, chocolate, cocoa, pepper, mint, tobacco, cotton balls, wet gravel, earthy, toasted oak.

Palate: Cherry, black cherry, tart black cherry, blackberry, cranberry, plum, dried fruit, cherry gummies, lots of vanilla, mocha, burnt popcorn, baking spice, tobacco, earthy note, oaky, balanced, complex, sumptuous, rich, well done.

Finish: Plummy, dry cranberry, cola, herbal, fresh grass, smooth smoke, lingering tannins, cool elegance.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Ghost Block Estate Cabernet Sauvignon


Jordan 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon
(Alexander Valley, Sonoma County) $63

This wine was made from a blend of 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot, 2% Malbec and 0.3% Cabernet Franc, from vineyards primarily in Alexander Valley. Following fermentation, the wine was aged in 100% French oak (47% new and 53% one-year-old barrels) for 13 months prior to bottling.

Aroma: Cherry, plum, blackberry, berries & cream, vanilla, warm cocoa, mocha, vegetal, mineral, tannin, green oak, toasty oak, oaky.

Palate: Cherry, raspberry, fig spread, vanilla, vegetal, spice, fresh grass, mineral, earthy, musty, tannins develop, toasted oak, not too oaky, bright acidity, balanced, zesty, reserved, good with food, would be great with steak.

Finish: Cherries, blueberry, lemon zest, herbs, pepper, smoky, balanced tannin, clean, soft.

Silver Medal
Silver medal

Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon

Pedroncelli 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon
Block 007 Estate

(Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma) $23

Cabernet Sauvignon (100%) grapes grown on a vineyard planted in 1992 and noted for well-drained gravelly soil were used to make this wine. Following temperature-controlled fermentation in small-capacity stainless-steel tanks, the wine was aged in French and American oak barrels (30% new French oak) for 17 months before bottling.

Aroma: Cherry, honeysuckle, floral, mint, spearmint gum, peppermint gum, vegetal, black olives, bold tobacco, tar, leather, musty attic, austere.

Palate: Cherry, raspberries, aromatic berries, vanilla, mint, spearmint gum, eucalyptus, nutmeg, cumin, oregano, spice cabinet, spice, musty, earthy, smoke, oak, toasted oak, bold, smooth, elegant.

Finish: Mocha, black tea, mint, spice, earthy, smoky, woody, tannic, elegant, an instant classic.

Silver Medal
Silver medal

Pedroncelli Cabernet Sauvignon Block 007 Estate




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