So I go to the wine store yesterday, hoping to get a really nice red wine to serve with my Valentine's Day meal (a fixed up a nice big braciola for my wife). I was looking for a Cabernet, and even came armed with a list of possibles, none of which happened to be there. Unfortunately, my sweet daughter was also with me, and she beagn to writhe and howl when we went into the store (she was, in her defense really tired). Having no real time to evaluate the other choices left to me, I did a quick search for Cabbie Sows (as I call them) from Napa Valley (nice tannins and not too fruity) with 1997 vintages (because 1997 was a great year in the US for wine) that cost about $20 and were from a winery I knew something about. So I picked this wine and ran with it, so to speak.

The wine delivered on some fronts and disappointed on others. It has left the full bloom of its youth behind, its nice red hue showing no trace of purple. The aromas included faint hints of mint and licorice. There was not a lot of fruit in the taste--perhaps too little. The tannins were a little harsher than I had expected, and since the taste was very understated, the tannins tended to dominate the "mouth experience." The finish was somewhat short given the wine's tannic structure.

But the wine worked pretty well with the meal, and I guess I should be happy about that. I just had higher hopes based on the wine's price, age, and producer. If I had given this with a meal to strangers, I would not feel embarrassed, but it just seemed somewhat lacking in a way I don't have the ability to describe.

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Update: I recently saw this wine reviewed at Wine Spectator as a 91 (on a scale to 100). The reviewer enthused about it a great deal, noting that he felt its characteristics would help it age quite well. He further suggested that it would not reach its prime drinkability until 2002. For all their faults, the magazine is not prone to grade inflation, though I have disagreed with their analysis in the past. In any event, since I can get this wine for about $18 a bottle locally, maybe I will buy a bottle and check it out in a couple of years.