By way of background: California is one of the world's favorite sources for cabernet sauvignon, a well recognized red grape with tough skins and the ability to create serious, ageworthy wines. This cabernet sauvignon hails from a winery in the Central Coast region, Saddlehorn Cellars of San Martin, CA, but its "California" designation grapes do not carry a more definitive region. California is a big state, after all.
Review of newer vintage, 2013 : This is Burke Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, California, 2013, finished at 13.5% alcohol and sampled one year from vintage date, in October, 2014.
In the glass: Ruby red, once again light for a cabernet sauvignon.
On the nose: Poured at room temperature and swirled vigorously, shows shy fruit, with an odd, bright, almost swimming pool element - but swimming pool in the nicest sense.
On the palate: The primary elements on the palate are showing light, bright blackberry fruit with a quick, clean finish.
In summary: As in the past, this rates two plus stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale without a decant. I'll need to give it a decant again and see how lose it gets to its surprising four star end point in the earlier vintage.
Following 2.5 hour decant: Still a shy nose. Soft and furry palate, rich and pleasing. This, once again, has really opened up with a decant. Moves to an easy three stars.
Initial review, 2009 vintage : This is Burke Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, California, 2009, finished at 13.5% alcohol.
In the glass: Medium red, somewhat pale in contrast to much California cabernet sauvignon.
On the nose: Poured cool with a brief decant and swirled vigorously, shows simple, shy plums. From the aroma, seems like this will be modest and simple on the palate, though perhaps round and friendly.
On the palate: The primary elements on the palate are in fact more aromatic, perfumed and tangy than I expected. There is bright blackberry here, with bright hints of red berries. Nice fruit in the middle is met with light tannins but a pretty big sweet acid hit at the end of the sip. It would like some gravy to cut the brightness.
In summary: Overall, two stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale, with a big plus for its solid fruit in the middle of the sip.
Following long decant, three hours in decanter at room temperature: The plums on the nose have a touch of sweetness and depth now. Excellent fruit in the mid-palate, ripe blackberries and soft red currants. Excellent balance, sweet fruit and gentle, enveloping acids. Jumps up to three stars, with a plus for its balanced, friendly tone. This one definitely wanted the decanting at two years from vintage date, and may settle in equally well with three or four years in bottle. Becomes a good value with the extra decanting time.
Updated review, over a year later, July, 2012: Color is still medium red and the aroma is still simple, of shy plums. On the palate, this is now consistent with the long-decanted version of the earlier-opened bottle. Nice sweetness, depth, aromatic layers. Just touches fourth star, and becomes a best value now three years from vintage date.
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