Wednesday, January 10, 2007


For me there was a lot of excitement and anticipation with this wine. First off, it is a fairly inexpensive California Cabernet ($20) and that always intrigues me. Secondly, it was made under the direction of wine rock star, Gary Vaynerchuk. In case you've been trapped under a rock for the last year, Gary is the Director of Operations for Wine Library and the host of Wine Library TV, a phenomenal wine video blog.

A mouthpiece for value, Gary's agenda was to make a wine that tastes like a $50 California Cab, but costs less than half the price. Gary did the blending and picking of the vineyards and tried to make a wine that captured the subtle nuances of Bordeaux while keeping the "oak monster" in check.

Readers of this blog know that I take great pride in the due diligence of tasting wines as soon as I pull the cork, as well as minutes and hours later. I also try my best to taste most wines the next day to see how they hold up, improve or change. Why do I do this? Because I don't want to miss anything. I'm in love with the evolution of wine as soon as it opens up and the roller coaster ride it takes as it slowly develops in the glass and over the course of time.

This is a wine that rewards you for tasting it early. If you open up this wine and let it breathe for a few hours you will miss some of the excitement it has to offer.

This red is a five clone blend of Cabernet and Merlot with 13.5% alcohol. The weight of the bottle itself is obnoxious. You can replace the dumbbells in your gym with two 750ml Clone 5s. The wine also sports the deepest punt I have ever seen on a bottle. It is around 2.5 - 3 inches. Yes, I roughly measured it.


Medium to dark ruby red color. Upon first opening, there's plenty of red berry (strawberry/raspberry) and a hint of alcohol on the nose. The mouthfeel feels a bit thin initially but it quickly sures itself up. After about 10 minutes the nose becomes heavy with cigar smoke. The cigar smoke disappears almost completely 40 minutes later and is replaced with a sweet nose of cherry and light oak. On the mid-palate you'll find tobacco leaf, some wood, chocolate and a hint of vanilla. There is a very obvious and intense black cherry candy finish that tastes like the hard outer coating of a Tootsie Roll Pop that gets stuck in your teeth. The mouthfeel becomes very smooth, gains some weight and depth and the alcohol becomes soundly integrated into the wine. Good body and complexity.


91 PTS
Complex and affordable Cabernet with lots of excitement upfront. This is a very young wine with the potential to improve with cellaring, but completely approachable now. For $20 a bottle there is tremendous value here. Gary clearly knows wine and you wouldn't expect anything less from him than a wine with a bit of artistry and craft. Congratulations, Gary. Well done.


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