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Feb 3, 2007 06:16 PM

California foothills/central valley Cab needed

I am going to a wine tasting party in two weeks and the theme is Cabernet. I have noticed at other get togethers that the group prefers wines that are from regions that are within driving distance from Sacramento. I'd like to bring something big and memorable and hopefully something they haven't tried. I'd prefer to spend between $40-60, if I find a can't miss suggestion I am willing to spend more, $100 is my absolute limit. In the past the group has really enjoyed a Syrah and a Zinfandel tasting, they like tannins and earthy tasting wines. When we get together for other festivities Zinfandel seems to be our default wine. Thanks for you help.

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  1. Has anyone tried the current release cabs from Renaissance or Lava Cap? I'm not current on vintages but have enjoyed the wines from these two producers in the past.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Melanie Wong

      I've only tried the Lava Cap 2001. It wasn't bad, but nothing special. To be honest, the Cabs from this area are not world beaters, but they are OK. They don't cost a lot, but if you want good wines from the the foothills, stick to the Syrah and Pinot Noir.

      1. re: dinwiddie

        Thanks for the word on Lava Cap. Would love to hear about Renaissance these days, the wines were eye-opening when I tried them a few years ago for their balance, restraint, and minerality. But that was a while ago. Matt Kramer seems to like the new release cab . . . 'hound opinions?

        P.S. Pinot Noir from the foothills?

        1. re: Melanie Wong

          I have 6 bottles left from a case of '98 Renaissance. Was that a good year?

          1. re: BN1

            1998 was not a very good year in CA, especially for Cabs. But that is only becaus it is in relation to exceptional years in '94, '97, and '99.

            1. re: dinwiddie

              I'd disagree a bit here. 1998 was less than '94 and '97, but produced some very nice Cabs, especially from Napa. The big difference was that more of these were not "age worthy," however they were very good in their youth. These were "restaurant" Cabs, in that they were very approachable in their youth, and did not require (or benefit) from aging. I have ordered many of these in restaurants, and have not been disappointed. Now, I did put down far more '94s and '97s in my cellar, but for drinking "upon release," the '98s (when well made) were very good.


          2. re: Melanie Wong

            Actually, I was thinking more of the Santa Rita area for Pinot Noir. Folks like Loring, A.P. Vin, Siduri, etc.

      2. I also enjoy the earthiness of the Shenandoah Valley wines in the foothills east of Sacramento. I usually seek the distinctive Sangiovese wines, but once I got a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon from Sobon because I tasted it. I’m not a fan of Cab but I really enjoyed the earthy qualities of this wine and bought more. Another wine I have especially enjoyed is Macchia Nebbiolo from Lockeford. It’s somewhat hard to get as I have only located it at a restaurant. At the winery, they insisted I join their wine club before they would part with any. Since you are having a tasting, they might accommodate you. It was my understanding that this area and the Lodi area are about Zinfandels. Also, I understood Barberas were the rising star of the Sierra foothills.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            Agreed. It's one of the best in California, IMHO.

            1. I'm not sure you could spend $100 on a bottle of Cabernet from the Sierra Foothills, even if you wanted to. Maybe not even $40-60!

              For instance, Granite Springs and Latcham both sell their Caberents in the $20-25 range. Perry Creek's red Bordeaux-styled blend is also $20. Oakstone's Reserve Cabernet is $20. Mount Aukum is $24-26, depending upon the specific bottling.

              All of the wineries mentioned above have produced Cabs and Cab-blends which are quite good. (This is based upon tasting their wines in competition at various venues, such as the California State Fair, the El Doradro Co. Fair, etc.)

              But as dinwiddie has already said, these are *not* going to be Calfornia's best Cabernets. The Sierra Foothills is much better known (and sought after) for the Syrahs, Rhône-styled blends, and Zinfandels . . .

              2 Replies
              1. re: zin1953

                Your'e right about the price. I've never seen a high priced bottle but was sort of hoping there might be an older vintage that would be worth the splurge. Thanks for the tips.

                1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

                  The organizers of the Kaweah Oaks Preserve (foothills of Sequoia National) used to produce a couple of cases of dessert wines with the local native wild grapes and auction them off every year for the benefit of the preserve. That's the only time I've heard of bottles of wine from the Sierra Nevada foothills fetching that much.

              2. Cedarville makes a decent Cab, although I much prefer their Grenache. I have agree with the other posters that I don't think of the area as Cab country.