Bottle Notes, Cabernet Sauvignon

Pick My Next Bottle – Cabernet Sauvignon Showdown

cabernet sauvignon

The June installment of Pick My Next Bottle focuses on Cabernet Sauvignon from some of the best regions in the world known for growing this noble grape. As I mentioned in the first installment, the purpose of this series is to provide insight into specific wines or producers you may currently have in your cellar. I will open the winning bottle on June 29th and publish a Bottle Note in early July.

The Producers

  • Quilceda Creek Vintners was founded in 1978 by Alex and Jeanette Golitzin. Alex Golitzin is a nephew of André Tchelistcheff, the legendary winemaker who put Beaulieu Vineyard at the forefront of Napa Valley Cabernet in the 1960s and 70s. He credits summer trips to visit his uncle in St. Helena, California with developing his early interest in wine. Alex’s son, Paul Golitzin is now chief winemaker at the winery.
  • Pahlmeyer was founded in the mid-1980s when Jayson Pahlmeyer, a Bay Area lawyer, decided he preferred thinking about wine over reading legal briefs. Pahlmeyer produced its debut vintage in 1986. The winemaking team is comprised of Kale Anderson who is Director of Winemaking for the Napa Valley vineyard and operations, and Bibiana González Rave as Consulting Winemaker overseeing the Sonoma Coast vineyard and operations.
  • Chateau Leoville Poyferre, in St.-Julien-Beychevelle, is a Second Growth Bordeaux according to the 1855 Bordeaux classification. Along with Leoville-Las-Cases and Leoville-Barton, Leoville Poyferre was part of a large estate in the Medoc originally owned by the Marquis de Leoville. After the French revolution the estate was divided and sold at public auction, where the portion that is now Chateau Leoville Poyferre was bought by Monsieur Poyferre. Today the estate is owned and run by Didier Cuvelier and his family and the quality of the wines has soared with modernization of the cellars and other improvements.

The Contenders

1994 Quilceda Creek – It offers deep and compelling aromas of red and black fruits, lead pencil, and traces of oak spices. This full-bodied, concentrated, and chewy wine is thick, dense, and gorgeously defined for such a massive wine. Its combination of power and elegance brought to mind the 1986 Margaux, one of the finest wines ever produced by that illustrious estate… This is a truly magnificent wine, and it will age remarkably well. Drink it between 2004 and 2015. 94 points from the Wine Advocate.

1995 Pahlmeyer – The 1995 Proprietary Red Wine may be even better than the 96 point score I bestowed it. It is unquestionably among the top dozen 1995s. The wine boasts an explosive blackberry/blueberry/cassis-scented nose that has completely soaked up all the new oak in which it has been aged for the last 22 months. Purple/black in color, it exhibits fabulously extracted, layered black fruit flavors that coat the palate, offering a seamless texture and voluptuous impression. 96 points from the Wine Advocate.

1996 Leoville Poyferre – This fabulous 1996 was tasted three times from bottle, and it is unquestionably the estate’s finest wine since their blockbuster 1990. Medium to full-bodied, with a saturated black/purple color, the nose offers notes of cedar, jammy black fruits, smoke, truffles, and subtle new oak. In the mouth, there is impressive fruit extraction, a tannic, full-bodied structure, and a classic display of power and finesse. The longer it sat in the glass, the more impressive the wine became. Backward, and massive in terms of its extract and richness, this should prove to be a sensational Leoville-Poyferre for drinking over the next three decades. 93 points from the Wine Advocate.

Which Cabernet Sauvignon should I open?

  • 1995 Pahlmeyer (40%, 21 Votes)
  • 1994 Quilceda Creek (34%, 18 Votes)
  • 1996 Leoville Poyferre (26%, 14 Votes)

Total Voters: 53

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Thanks for voting! I’d love to see a comment below on why you picked one bottle over another. Also, let me know if you have any suggestions for the July installment of Pick My Next Bottle.

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9 thoughts on “Pick My Next Bottle – Cabernet Sauvignon Showdown

  1. 1995 Pahlmeyer Proprietary Red is my pick. I believe this wine has a fair amount of merlot in the blend which should make the Pahlmeyer earlier drinking than the Quilceda Creek which I believe is 100% cabernet sauvignon. In a very good year, Leoville Poyferre typically needs around 12-15 years to settle down (and 1996 was a very good year for the Left-Bank). So, out of the three wine choices here, I suspect that the 1995 Pahlmeyer will be drinking the best, although the other two wines will be drinking beautifully right now as well.

    1. Thoughtful comments. Thanks. The Pahlmeyer is simply one of the best wines of the vintage. I think you are right that it is ready to drink but I have little doubt well cellared bottles will continue to drink beautifully for years to come.

  2. I know the Pahlmeyer is great…more curious about the QC as I have not had any of these from the mid 90’s…

  3. I voted for the Leoville because I am going to France in July. I am also curious to see how the Quilceda Creek is drinking. I am doing a QC vertical with some friends on Saturday. It would be interesting to compare notes on the vintages.

    1. Looking forward to hearing more about the QC vertical. It is fascinating too try their wines from the 90’s up against recent vintages.

  4. Opting for the Quilceda Creek. The Leoville Poyferre has some time yet, the QC seems perfectly in prime. I’d be curious to see what a few more years could bring to the Pahlmeyer. Gorgeous lineup, Tom.

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