The Cabernet Challenge…So Many Great Wines…So Many Great Palates

by barbara on October 5, 2010

At the completion of our Cabernet Shootout finals, we found many spectacular Cabernet Sauvignons, Cabernet Francs, and Cabernet Blends. The comments and scores by our judging panel have been posted at Affairs of the Vine and can be reviewed by gender. Men here and Women here.

I believe we have one of the best judging panels anywhere. Anyone can say that. We put our panel to the test.

There has been much discussion about the validity of professional wine judging panels. We select a diverse panel of judges and utilize a complex process to get the best possible results. As the final part of the formula, we took 34 of the top rated wines to Chicago to challenge the palates of our panel of judges.

The Chicago Wine Club invited Cabernet Lovers to taste the wines blind and test the findings of the panel.  A daunting task.  But members of the Chicago Wine Club were up to the task.

On September 29th, 130 lucky Cabernet Lovers gathered at the Blue Star Wine Bar to participate in a blind tasting of the award winning wines.

A great time was had by all.  They indulged their passion for great Cabernets and fabulous food. They pitted their palates against the expert panel’s findings as they tasted through the 34 wines.

Votes were cast by placing stones in a box in front of each wine. The men and women had different colored stones. Each of the wines received some votes from members of the group. All of the wines were enjoyed. The only complaint we heard was that there wasn’t enough time to enjoy and evaluate the wines.

Please note that all of these wines are winners.  All received  (4 hearts) and scores of 90 or above by our Expert Panel.

Listed below are 34 of the top wines as tasted and ranked by the Expert Panel on August 14, 2010 .

The Wine Lovers in Chicago voted for their top 3 wines in order of preference after tasting them blind. As in the case of the judging panel, the men and women votes were tallied separately. The Female Cabernet Lovers top choice was the McGrail Vineyards 2007 Reserve McGrail Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Livermore Valley while the Men’s favorite was Martin Ray Winery 2007 Reserve Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.

Check the table below for a view of the wine tasted and how the male and female judges scored the wines and which were the favs of the Chicago Wine Club wine lovers.

Wine Color – The identifiers in the blind tasting Female Judges: Score CWC Female Wine Lovers: Ranking Male Judges: Score CWC Male Wine Lovers: Ranking
Anglim 2006 Starr Ranch

Cab Sauv,

Paso Robles

Light Yellow 93   91 #3 –

Tied for 3rd

Bogle ’06 Reserve Old River Vyd Cab Sauv, Clarksburg Pumpkin 91 #2 – 2nd Place 91  
Buttonwood 2007 Estate Cab Franc, Santa Ynez Vly Dusty Rose 92   90 #2 –

Tied for 2nd

Cana’s Feast Winery 2007 Cabernet Franc, Columbia Valley Periwinkle 90   90 #3 –

Tied for 3rd

Cass Winery 2007 Estate

Cab Sauv,

Paso Robles

Pink 91   89 #3 –

Tied for 3rd

Cass Winery 2007 Reserve Cabernet Blend, Paso Robles Bronze 91   91  
Eberle 2007 Vineyard Selection

Cab Sauv,

Paso Robles

Khaki 90   92  
Ecluse 2007 Ensemble Bordeaux Blend, Paso Robles Light Blue 91   90  
Faust  2007

Cab Sauv,

Napa Valley

Yellow 91   93  
Fernwood Cellars 2007 Estate

Cab Sauv,

Santa Cruz Mtns

Orange 92   91 #3 –

Tied for 3rd

Hagafen Cellars 2006 Cab Sauv, Napa Valley Deep Purple 89 #3 –

Tied for 3rd

Hahn Estates ’06

Cabernet Franc, Central Coast

Turquoise 91   93  
Hahn Winery ’08 Meritage,

Central Coast

Light Green 92   90 #2 –

Tied for 2nd

J. Davies 2007 Cab Sauv, Diamond Mtn District Black 92 #3 –

Tied for 3rd

94 #3 –

Tied for 3rd

La Storia 2006 Estate Reserve Geyserville Ranch Cab Sauv, Alexander Vly Green 91   92  
Louis M. Martini 2006 Cab Sauv, Napa Valley Purple 91   90 #3 –

Tied for 3rd

Lucas & Lewellen 2006 Clone 6

Cab Sauv,

Santa Barbara County

Dark Red 91   91 #3 –

Tied for 3rd

Martin Ray Winery 2007 Reserve Stags Leap District

Cab Sauv,

Napa Vly

Forest Green 90   90 #1 – 1st Place
McGrail 2007 Reserve

McGrail Vyds Cab Sauv, Livermore Vly

Red 92 #1 – 1st Place 92  
McWilliams Hanwood Estate 2008 Cab Sauv, Southeastern AU White 90   91 #2 –

Tied for 2nd

Murphy-Goode 2007 Cab Sauv, California Dark Blue 90   90  
Pend d’Oreille 2007

Meyer Reserve Lawrence Vyd Cab Sauv, Columbia Valley

Tan 90   92 #3 –

Tied for 3rd

Pollak Vyds 2008 Estate

Cabernet Franc, Monticello

Gray 90   89  
Pollak Vyds 2007 Estate

Bordeaux Blend, Monticello

Orchid 90   90  
Rodney Strong 2007 Estate

Cab Sauv, Alexander Vly

Wedgewood 91   90  
Rodrigue Molyneaux 2006 Reserve,

Cab Sauv, Livermore Vly

Gunmetal 92 #3 –

Tied for 3rd

88 #3 –

Tied for 3rd

Skylite Cellars 2007 Reserve Bordeaux Blend, Columbia Valley Coral 91   89  
Spangler Vyds 2008 Cab Franc, So. Oregon Gold 91   90 #3 –

Tied for 3rd

THE GRADE 2007 Estate

Winfield Vyd Cab Sauv,

Napa Valley, Calistoga

Hot Pink 92   91 #2 –

Tied for 2nd

Tulocay 2006 Rancho Sarco Vyd

Cab Sauv,

Napa Valley

Dark Gray 89   91  
Ty Caton Vyds 2008 Estate, Caton Vineyard Cab Sauv, Sonoma Valley Burgundy 90   88  
Ty Caton Vyds 2008 Estate, Caton Vyd Barracks

Cab Sauv, Sonoma Valley

Aqua Marine 90   93  
VJB 2007 Dante Cab Sauv, Sonoma Valley Blue 90   90 #3 –

Tied for 3rd

Yalumba 2006 Menzies the Cigar

The Menzies Vyd Cab Sauv, Coonawarra, AU

Brown 90   91  

We had the pleasure of introducing the Torkscrew to the Chicago Wine Club. It’s a bird, it’s a plane…no! It’s a a screw cap wine opener, corkscrew, and foil cutter all in one. The coolest thing about the Torkscrew is that it is magnetic and sticks to your refrigerator so you’ll always know where it is when it’s time to open a bottle of wine. We opened our the wonderful Cabernet bottles with the Torkscrews and then raffled off 10 of them. If you weren’t lucky enough to win one, you can still purchase one with a great discount. Just select the color you want, put it in your cart, click add a coupon, and enter CAB2010. You’ll save 40% off the regular retail price. The coupon expires October 22nd so order now!

Check out the “Bang for Your Buck Cabernets”. Wines which were awarded  three or more hearts and selling for under $18. By the female judges By the male judges

For complete results from the expert panel click here

Don’t feel that you have to like the wines that wine critics praise. Don’t be intimidated! If a movie reviewer gives 5 stars to a film, do you feel that you’re unsophisticated if you don’t like it too? Wine is no different. Personal preference is what counts. So drink and enjoy what you like. At Affairs of the Vine we say, “If you like the way it looks and you like the way it smells and you like the way it tastes…it’s good wine. So use our recommendations as a guide but you are the authority of what provides “Love at First Sip” for you.

If you see anything in these results which you think is of interest or noteworthy, we would love to hear from you and we will put as many comments up on our website as possible. And remember, trust your own palate. It’s the only one that matters.

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