Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Review: **** $$$$$ von Strasser Cabernet Sauvignon, Diamond Mountain District, Napa Valley, California, 2006

Check out today's pricing and retail availability for von Strasser Diamond Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon.

By way of background, opening thoughts: Corks and wines have had a love/hate relationship over the centuries.  A natural and effective closing mechanism, corks also come with a wily and troublesome habit called "cork taint", which is a residue of TCA (2,4,6-trichloroanisole) that will grow in impact as the wine ages.  By some studies, as many as 7% of commercial wines may be impacted by the taint.  Descriptions of the smell vary, the more colorful veering towards characterization like "old cardboard", "wet dog hair" and the like.  I don't have a handy description.  Having been around enough wines, I know it when I sniff it now, and it isn't particularly pleasant.  It also strips a wine of its underlying character.  There are ways to strip the taint from wines, and yet the resulting wine will lose some of its original character in the process.

All this is prelude to saying that my first bottle of this varietal was so infected, even though lightly so.  When I opened a second bottle, the change was dramatic.  If you think you are being impacted by a corked bottle, go with your gut - you probably are.  Seek a replacement if possible. 


On to the wine... von Strasser Winery of Diamond Mountain in Napa seeks to build Bordeaux-style varietals from the Napa region.  Generally speaking, that will imply a lighter-alcohol, higher acid and more food-friendly wine than you may otherwise expect.  It will likely be less a contemplative, pre-dinner, sipping wine, and more likely one you will likely enjoy most with your roast. 

Original tasting and review : This is von Strasser Cabernet Sauvignon, Diamond Mountain District, Napa Valley, California, 2006, finished at 13.5% alcohol, which is quite shy by Napa cabernet sauvignon standards and consistent with the Bordeaux-styling.

In the glass: Dark blood red magenta.

On the nose: Poured cool with a brief decant and swirled vigorously, shows soft, subtle fruit.  From the aroma, seems like this will be gentle and lithe.

On the palate: The primary elements on the palate are in fact bold purple deep fruit, with a clean laundry overtone and solid surrounding tannins.  It does paint your teeth and gums with intensity, but shows a clear, clean mineral streak right along the spine.  Finish brings red berry flavors along for a good long time.

In summary: Overall, rates three stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale, with a big plus for its combination of power and delicacy. 

Following decant of approximately one hour, satisfying deep tannins lifted up and held the deep blueberry and blackberry flavors aloft, lifting this to a full four stars.  I wholeheartedly recommend a decant, and serving this with food, which will accent its solid acids and minerality. Following longer decant, two full days kept cool in partially filled bottle:  Blood red fruit on the nose.  Vibrant and well-knitted red fruits.  Finish turns lightly sweet and fills your teeth and cheeks with gentle tannins.  Very nice with this extra-long air time. 

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Check out today's pricing and retail availability for von Strasser Diamond Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon.

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