As I mentioned in a recent post, Ian Blackburn’s Learn About Wine organization sponsored a blind taste test at The Food Event 09 and the Wine Imbiber was one of the winners, having identified the mystery varietal. That earned us two tickets to last Thursday’s STARS of Cabernet tasting event at the 5–star Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills. And what a great immersion in California Cabernet is was! The event showcased nearly 100 Cabs from about 40 California wineries (many poured by the winemaker) and, to round out the evening, there was a silent auction, featuring art, wine & other collectibles to benefit the TJ Martell Foundation and Cancer Research at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles.
The event wound its way through two large rooms and a tented outside patio, where a selection of upscale food kept everyone on balance. We couldn’t try every wine that evening. While I took only small sips, I discarded my usual “sip and spit” rule (we had reserved a cab—the yellow variety—to and from home). While Leah has a preference for white and lighter red wines, I’m most at home with big reds. Nevertheless, there were Cabs to suit almost any palate (yes, not all California Cabs are big and heavy). And several of the Cabs on hand are hard to get, so the evening was a special treat.
We both really enjoyed the Cabs from Lancaster Estate. I particularly loved their 2006 Estate Bottled Alexander Valley Cab, while Leah took to their lighter 2006 “Roth Estate” Alexander Valley Cab. Of course, we lingered at the Paul Hobbs table, where they were pouring four great Cabs, particularly their 2005 Oakville Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard. We also enjoyed the four Cabs poured by Sol Rouge winemaker Bryan Kane, particularly their 2006 Oakville To Kalon Vineyard; their 2006 Lake County Cab presents a real value (it seems they price it based on cost, not market). Another excellent entry was the A. Rafanelli 2006 Dry Creek Valley Cab, poured by Patti and Stacey Rafanelli. We enjoyed meeting Christian Palmaz and his wife, Jessica, and sampling their Palmaz Vineyards 2005 & 2002 Napa Cabs (we featured the Palmaz Family’s dog, Gina, as our “Wine Dog of the Month” back in April). Other Cabs we liked were the Frog’s Leap 2006 Napa Cab and 2006 Rutherford Cab and the Ackerman Family 2003, 2004 and 2005 Napa Cabs poured by Lauren Ackerman.
We enjoyed sampling Cabs from some of our old favorites, such as the Trefethen 2004 “HaLo” Oak Knoll District Cab, poured by Hailey Trefethen. Cakebread‘s 2005 Napa Cab was also a real winner. Both of the Grgich Hills Cabs—their 2005 Napa Cab and 2005 Yountville Selection Cab—were very good. We also liked the Miner Family 2005 “The Oracle” blend.
The event was very well organized. The setting and the food were elegant, the wines were select and the auction was interesting. There were enough sampling tables to handle all of the guests and it presented a great opportunity to taste a wide variety of California Cabs and talk with the winemakers and proprietors about their wines and their winemaking philosophies. Well done!