On the banks of the river on a well beaten path

My pals at Pleasant Hill Wine Merchants have some of the most fun events.  They have had some great winemakers in and some great blind tasting events.  Last Friday they had a Blind Top Shelf Tasting of Cabernet Sauvignons.  They were all covered in paper bags and numbered.  Inside those bags were:

  1. Nickel & Nickel 05 Sullenger Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
  2. David Arthur Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
  3. Mi Sueno 2006 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
  4. Oberon 05 Hillside Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon by Rob Mondavi
  5. Grgich Hills Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 05
  6. Adobe Road 05 Cabernet Sauvignon
  7. Kenwood Artist Series 04 Cabernet Sauvignon
  8. Stuhlmuller 2005 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
  9. Stanley Lambert “Silent Partner” Cabernet Sauvignon
  10. R&B Cabernet Sauvignon
  11. Silver Oak Napa Valley 04 Cabernet Sauvignon
  12. Hidden Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon
  13. Stromberg Dry Creek Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
  14. Ghost Block 2006 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

The Ghost Block is very popular up at PHWM.  It was good and it stood out as well, but not a top three for me.  I went with Professor Cousin and the Chemical Engineer.  Our ratings ended up very similar.  In the end I gave the nod to the Stanley Lambert.  It had tremendous balance, a nice front of ripe fruit and chocolate with a gentle tannic finish.  I was shocked to hear that I wasn’t the only one who gave the Aussie blend the nod.  They were running away with the competition.  My number two was the Silver Oak.  It was balanced and elegant.  Good ripe plums and black cherries on the front, a little floral in the middle with a hint of chocolate and nice gentle tannins on the finish.  I was pretty surprised to see that we all went with the Silver Oak.  My number three was the David Arthur.  This one was bright and full of blackberries and ripe cherries on the front with a hint of vanilla.  The finish was a mocha and a little tighter than the others, but not so tannic to offend.

Here’s the surprise to me.  I thought the Oberon and the Grgich Hills were too tight, both had that green pepper nose that I don’t like and they both needed to take a long wine nap before they were drinkable.  The R&B is not a “top shelf” per se, but the winemaker was in and had the balls to blind taste with the big boys.  He was my number four.  They were selling his juice for $40 a bottle if you got two.  That was the deal of the night.  A fine, balanced, fruity cab full of personality.  Nice finish on it.

We ended the night with an adventure to Monacatini’s, the local Italian place that’s been here for about 200 years.  Their food is always spot on.  We ordered a bottle of “The Prisoner” and proceeded to have an excellent meal of, in my case gnocchi and pomodoro sauce.  They make the gnocchi’s there.  The Professor had the seafood dish, but you just can’t get a decent scampi in Indiana, so who could blame the guy?

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