Tasting Report: 2012 California Cabernet Sauvignon

The California Cabernet Society’s annual barrel tasting event has gotten smaller over the last few years, but that’s afforded guests more time to visit with each winery, and the chance to taste through some older vintages (something I rarely have the time for at the more exhaustive/exhausting events).

2012 Cabernet was the focus of this recent show, and while most of these wines won’t hit the market until next year, it’s already shaping up to be a curious vintage for California. Very light tannins are the order of the day — it’s one of the most delicate Cab years in recent memory. For wineries that know how to work with this lighter structure, magic is in the air. For those insistent on creating heavy, ultra-ripe wines, many are coming across as overcooked.

Thoughts follow on all wines tasted. Remember: Comments on all 2012 wines relate to barrel samples. Older vintages are production bottlings.

Tasting Report: 2012 California Cabernet Sauvignon (and older vintages)

2012 Ackerman Cabernet Sauvignon / B+ / lots of dried herbs, young
2008 Ackerman Cabernet Sauvignon / A / drinking well, lively fruit
2005 Ackerman Cabernet Sauvignon / B- / weedy, some oxidation
2012 Adelaida Cabernet Sauvignon / B+ / huge jam, blackberry, tar
2009 Adelaida Cabernet Sauvignon / B+ / very fruity, lots of tobacco
2012 Bell Cabernet Sauvignon Clone 6 George III Vineyard / B+ / blackberry cobbler
2010 Bell Cabernet Sauvignon Clone 6 George III Vineyard / B / already showing age
2012 Blue Rock Cabernet Sauvignon Best Barrels / B / some chocolate notes, modest
2009 Briar Rose Cabernet Sauvignon / B+ / youthful, fresh, perfumy
2012 Cain Concept / C / a mild body, some stinkiness
2012 Cain Five / C- / intense barnyard, par for the course
2012 Charles Krug Cabernet Sauvignon / B / unfinished/not final blend; fresh and up front, short finish
2012 Cornerstone Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon / A / lovely balance of fruit and perfume
2009 Cornerstone Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon / A / drinking beautifully now
2009 Cornerstone Cellars The Cornerstone / A / intense, a knockout full of intense tobacco, cedar, and black fruit
2012 Diamond Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Volcanic Hill / A+ / another knockout, loaded with fruit, earth, wood, and more; killer
2010 Diamond Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Volcanic Hill / A / maturing, ample earth, plenty of tannin
2012 Faust Cabernet Sauvignon / B / simple
2010 Faust Cabernet Sauvignon / B / lots of jam
2010 Hagafen Cabernet Sauvignon / B / heavy flowers, light fruit
2007 Hagafen Prix Reserve / B / similar notes
2012 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon / B / blueberry and strawberry notes, very very light
2009 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon / B+ / lots of floral elements, quite perfumy and, again, light on its toes
2012 Keenan Cabernet Sauvignon / B+ / fresh, lots of acid
2012 Kenefick Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon / B / earthy, peppery kick, some barnyard
2012 Linked Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Knights Valley / B+ / big fruit, classic structure
2008 Linked Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Knights Valley / B- / somewhat green, over-earthed
2012 Louis M. Martini Monte Rosso / A- / big, lots of promise ahead
2008 Louis M. Martini Monte Rosso / A- / drinking very well, lovely berry overtones
2012 Mario Bazan Cabernet Sauvignon / A / lots of lavender, showing well, perfume meets flowers
2009 Mario Bazan Cabernet Sauvignon / A- / light and floral
2012 Peju Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve / B+ / big fruit, red berries
2012 Rocca Cabernet Sauvignon / B+ / drinking well, straightforward
2012 Sebastiani Cabernet Sauvignon Cherry Block / A- / nice fruit (cherries, even?), strawberry notes
2010 Sebastiani Cabernet Sauvignon Cherry Block / A- / slightly more herbal, long finish
2011 Star Lane Cabernet Sauvignon / B+ / barrel sample; tight, a bit of a mystery now
2012 Steven Kent Cabernet Sauvignon / B+ / heavy acid, wood beneath that
2010 Steven Kent Cabernet Sauvignon Lineage / B+ / ample herbal character, good acid
2009 Steven Kent Cabernet Sauvignon Lineage / B+ / very youthful
2012 Stone Edge Farm Cabernet Sauvignon / B+ / still cooking, lots of promise but some barnyard here
2008 Stone Edge Farm Cabernet Sauvignon / B / heavier with a menthol kick
2012 Terlato Cabernet Sauvignon / C+ / very young, all jam and some marshmallow notes
2012 Trinchero Cabernet Sauvignon Mario’s Vineyard / B+ / heavy chocolate, ample tannin
2009 Trinchero Cabernet Sauvignon Mario’s Vineyard / B+ / still young, similar notes
2012 Viader Cabernet Sauvignon / A / big body, chewy but tart, chocolate and raspberry a-plenty
2008 Viader Cabernet Sauvignon / A- / some meat here, cocoa, lots of herbs
2012 Volker Eisele Cabernet Sauvignon / B+ / herbal, good fruit at the core
2012 ZD Wines Cabernet Sauvignon / A- / black and blueberry, lots of fruit
2009 ZD Wines Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve / A- / lots of complexity, menthol, tobacco, herbs … a little weird, actually

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