Tasting Report: 2011 California Cabernet Sauvignon

This year’s California Cabernet Society barrel tasting event was considerably smaller than in previous years (many producers are probably skipping it outright), though this at least gave me a little more time to spend with each winery on hand, all pouring barrel samples of their 2011 vintage bottlings (plus a number of older wines on hand for comparative purposes).

As usual, these wines are developing slowly – remember most won’t even be released for two more years – but from this vantage point the year looks to be a modest one at best, impacted by a very cool summer, late rain (= rotting grapes), and very late ripening and picking. While it will go down as one of the worst years in decades for California (alongside 1998), many winemakers seem to have salvaged something good from the year nonetheless. Still, most wines aren’t measuring up to the 2009 and 2008s many were pouring, both of which are going to be classic years for California Cab.

Thoughts follow on all wines tasted.

Tasting Report: 2011 California Cabernet Sauvignon

2011 Ackerman Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon / B+ / lots of violet, green pepper

2011 Adelaida Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Viking Reserve / B / not done, very tart, has some promise

2011 Bell Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Georges III Vineyard / A- / mild, easygoing

2008 Bell Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Clone 6 / A / great drinking, red berries

2009 Bell Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley / A / lush, delicious

2011 Blue Rock Cabernet Sauvignon / B / lots of tanin

2011 Cain Five / C- / skunky as always

2009 Charles Krug-Peter Mondavi Family Winery Generations / B+ / mild, some fruit, sweet finish

2008 Charles Krug-Peter Mondavi Family Winery Generations / A- / nice body

2011 Chimney Rock Cabernet Sauvignon Ganymede Vineyard / B+ / daunting now, big tannin, but balance in there

2011 Corison Cabernet Sauvignon / B+ / big mint notes, fruity finish

2011 Cornerstone Cabernet Sauvignon / B+ / tart, still cooking

1999 Cornerstone Cabernet Sauvignon / B+ / showing age, still tannic

2011 Diamond Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Red Rock Terrace / A / a bit tight, showing wonderful future

2009 Diamond Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Red Rock Terrace / A+ / unbelievable, a perfect wine, immense fruit and great structure

2011 Dry Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Endeavor / A- / good structure

2011 Faust Cabernet Sauvignon / B+ / light

2011 Guilliams Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon / A- / smoky nose, earthy body, good structure

2011 Hendry Ranch Winery Cabernet Sauvignon / B+ / still cooking, lighter

2011 Hidden Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon / A- / quite good, understated, a simple wine

2007 Hidden Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon / A / chocolate nose, progressing well

2011 Jericho Canyon Cabernet Sauvignon / B+ / some earth, still cooking, showing port-like character

2011 Keenan Cabernet Sauvignon / B+ / jammier style, herbal finish

2011 Kenefick Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon / B / barnyard nose, thin body

2011 Kristine Ashe Cabernet Sauvignon / B+ / light, fruity, tart finish

2011 Linked Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon / B+ / minty style, a bit dusty

2011 Louis M. Martini Cabernet Sauvignon Monte Rosso / A- / lots of fruit, big strawberry notes

2009 Louis M. Martini Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley / A- / chewy, solid

2008 Louis M. Martini Cabernet Sauvignon Monte Rosso / A- / rich, port-like finish

2011 Mario Bazan Cabernet Sauvignon / B / dusty, drying

2011 Merryvale Cabernet Sauvignon / B- / very dusy, earthy, menthol notes; balance is off

2011 Mi Sueño Cabernet Sauvignon / A- / lovely, light, floral, airy

2011 O’Shaughnessy Estate Winery Cabernet Sauvignon / B+ / earthy nose, still developing, big fruit core

2009 O’Shaughnessy Estate Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Mount Veeder / A / lovely chocolate finish, plummy

2011 Peju Cabernet Sauvignon Virgo Block / A- / surprisingly easy, fruity, ripe cherries

2011 Piña Cabernet Sauvignon Firehouse Vineyard Rutherford / A / nice balance, grape jam, cocoa finish

2009 Piña Cabernet Sauvignon Firehouse Vineyard Rutherford / A / drinking well, great strawberry notes on a big body

2011 Raymond Cabernet Sauvignon / A / really nice balance, blackberries

2008 Raymond Cabernet Sauvignon Generations / A- / cedar, evergreen notes

2011 Rutherford Hill Cabernet Sauvignon / B+ / strong mint nose, fruit cobbler on body, still developing

2011 Sequum Cabernet Sauvignon Kidd Ranch / A- / earth and fruit in good balance, tobacco character

2008 Skipstone Cabernet Sauvignon Oliver’s Blend / B+ / big Port character

2011 Star Lane Cabernet Sauvignon / B+ /

2011 Steven Kent Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Clone 30 Ghielmetti Vineyard / B+ / soapy notes on the nose, body is clean, fruity

2011 Stone Edge Farm Cabernet Sauvignon / B+ / still cooking, big fruit

2011 Ty Caton Cabernet Sauvignon Estate “Barricks” Block / A- / tart, big raspberry

2011 Viader Cabernet Sauvignon Block “B1″ Estate / A- / smooth, rounded, silky

2008 Viader Cabernet Sauvignon / A- / developing Port-like character quickly

2011 Volker Eisele Cabernet Sauvignon / B+ / solid fruit, minty finish

2011 William Hill Cabernet Sauvignon / B+ / some Port notes, tannic edge

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