This month's tasting was a departure from the usual format, and was a chance to compare Cabernet Sauvignons from six different growing regions.
The winner was a well-balanced Australian, showing complexity and richness for a very modest price. Not far behind was Ali's elegant old-world Cab from Italy. David's expensive Bordeaux entry was over-the-hill and tired, with little to offer except trash bin aromatics.
The tasting group found it very difficult to identify the origin of the wines, but generally enjoyed the high quality of most every bottle.
First Place: Ninety Plus Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (McLaren Vale). Exhibited cassis, plum, vanilla, cola, cream, golden raisin, and black fruit aromatics. Andy called it "classy", while David noted "moist, dark soil". Cherry and cranberry flavors, finishing creamy. Resa noted a "buttery feel". Refined tannins. David praised it for its overall balance. Resa, Kristin, and Ali's favorite of the night. Received 29 points. Ina's bottle. About $11.
Second Place: Alois Lageder Cor Romigberg 2000 (Alto Adige). Scents of tomato, caramel, light coffee, black olive, sponge, toothpaste, and cigar box. Hints of funk. Initially closed aromatically, but opened up with aeration. Resa found "salty licorice", as well as "peat moss". Tobacco, mineral, black tea, cured meat, clove, and woodsy flavors. This wine changed the most as the night went on. No taster guessed that this was from Italy, but a few felt that it was at least an Old World wine. Andy and David's favorite. Received 25 points. Ali's bottle. About $35.
Third Place: Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (Colchagua Valley). Body odor, campfire, port-a-potty, cleanser, new rubber, and evergreen aromas. Ripe and full in the mouth, featuring cassis, black tea, and body odor flavors. Fleshy and focused at the same time. Received 15 points. Andy's bottle. About $24.
Chateau Smith Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (Columbia Valley). Aromas reminiscent of creamsicle, chalk, buttered popcorn, snap peas, rust, dried herbs, black pepper, butter pickle, and herbs de provence. Caramel, cherry, currant, and nutmeg flavors. Smooth texture. Ali noted "no start, good finish". Both Kristin and Ali identified this as from Washington. Ina's first place vote. 11 points. Kristin's bottle. About $20.
Newman's Own Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (California). Tasters found complex raisin bread, caramel, pumpernickel, raw meat, boysenberry, lamb, prunes, raisins, coffee, licorice, and wild berry aromas. Smokey, with almost overripe fruit on the palate, along with dark chocolate on a very full-bodied frame. Andy described a "shadowy profile", and Resa thought it was "voluptuous". Kristin correctly identified this as Californian. Received 10points. Resa's bottle. About $14.
Chateau Montrose 1996 Saint Estephe. Smelled of dirty sponge, wet wool, barnyard, rancid cheese, rotting vegetables, dumpster, and iodine. Brown around the rim. Flat. Not complex, with bad milk and green bell pepper on the palate. Resa noted a "Band-Aid" flavor. David's bottle. No points. About $100.
Wolf Blass Botrytis Riesling Noble Gold 1998 (South Australia). About $20.