Tuesday, January 29, 2008

What's In A Name

Do you shop with name brands in mind or are you into budget knockoffs? Eric Asimov recently wrote that "Napa cabernets are like the Manhattan apartment market: You are going to pay, even at the lowest end, for the privilege of living there."

To appraise the real estate of lower-end Napa cabernets he tasted 25 bottles, $50 and under, from the 2004 vintage. The wines he liked best had complex spicy and herbal flavors.

Here are his tasting notes:

W. H. Smith Piedra Hill Vineyard Howell Mountain Purple Label-$44

Full-bodied and rich yet balanced; attractive, lingering aromas and flavors of cranberry, mint and eucalyptus.

Rombauer Napa Valley 2004-$30

Nicely textured and well balanced with spicy cranberry and mint aromas and flavors.

Gott 4 Sarah’s Métier Napa Valley 2004-$35

Plush, plummy and almost seamless with deep, dark fruit flavors.

Robert Mondavi Napa Valley 2004-$25

Spicy, brambly fruit flavors; well balanced with pronounced tannins.

John Anthony Napa Valley 2004-$49

Soft and a tad sweet with flavors of ripe, jammy fruit and licorice.

Sequoia Grove Napa Valley 2004-$27

Smooth and lush with blueberry, cassis and eucalyptus flavors.

Larkmead Napa Valley 2004-$50

Lush and plush with smooth tannins and fruit and chocolate flavors.

Hess Mount Veeder 2004-$50

Soft, smooth and well balanced with flavors of ripe berries augmented by anise and herbs.

Turnbull Napa Valley 2004-$40

Jammy, inky fruit bomb with some tannins and earthiness for balance.

Steltzner Stag’s Leap District 2004-$35

Big and ripe with jammy fruit and oak flavors.

Buying a Napa cabernet in these price ranges makes you market savy. Remember the motto: Location, location, location.