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When shopping for a Cabernet Sauvignon, it is important to consider if you'd prefer a wine from Bordeaux or California. These wines will differ in style due to reasons like climate, soil type, winemaking techniques in the cellar (ex: oak aging) and whether or not it's blended with other grapes. 
Bordeaux and California Cabernet may be based on the same grapes, but Mother Nature’s impact produces very different results. We're here to help you discover whether you prefer Cabs from "New World" versus "Old World", "Cool Climate" versus "Warm Climate" and so on. 😊
Bordeaux is considered "Old World". The growing conditions are cool to moderate with limited sunshine and moderate to heavy rainfall. What does this mean? When the climate is cooler, the style of wine tends to be a bit more reserved and the winegrower may struggle with the ripening progress. Bordeaux soils are gravel beds with limestone and clay. Lastly, Bordeaux wines are blends of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot. This blending helps the winemaker attain ripeness levels desired 😉.
Classic Bordelaise Winetasting Notes – Moderate to deep plum red color. The color saturation fades to the edge of the glass. Traditionally alcohol levels are moderate at 12.5%, acid levels can be a bit sharp and the tannins can be a bit astringent during youth. These wines typically evolve well with age! The fruit flavors are of ripe black fruits such as black currents, blackberry and plum with an herbaceous or green note.
Château Lafon Rochet Saint-Estephe 2015
Château Lafon Rochet Saint-Estephe 2015 $78.00
A gem from Saint-Estèphe is the 2015 Château Lafon-Rochet and it’s certainly one of the top wines from this appellation in 2015. Elegant, medium to full-bodied, beautifully pure and refined, it offers impressive notes of sweet dark fruits, crème de cassis, classy oak and a kiss of minerality. It’s the finesse and quality of tannin, as well as its solid mid-palate, that sets this beauty apart. This wine is 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc and the rest Petit Verdot, and it’s hidden little gem worth tracking down!
Ch Leoville las Cases St Julien 2009 (2nd Growth)
Ch Leoville las Cases St Julien 2009 (2nd Growth) $395.99
Cabernet Sauvignon 76%, Merlot 15%, Cabernet Franc 9% 
The flowering and berry set both occurred in the best possible conditions thanks to the very fine weather. There was no excessive heat and the colour change was very quick and even thanks to a lovely sunny period in late July and early August. There was very little rain during the ripening process with a very dry yet not over hot month of August. The result was a quite early and remarkably even crop.
Château Cheval Blanc Saint-Émilion 1er Grand Cru Classé 2000
Château Cheval Blanc Saint-Émilion 1er Grand Cru Classé 2000 $1,999.99
This was a warm, very dry year that enabled the grapes to ripen beautifully. The wine is concentrated, powerful, and very intense. The colour is quite deep. The rich, complex nose features wonderful aromas of spice and fresh fruit: raspberry, strawberry, blackberry, etc. The bouquet opens up further to reveal roasted overtones and hints of vanilla, coconut, bay leaf, and leather. Truffle and tobacco nuances denote tertiary development. The wine starts out straightforward and fresh on the palate with fruity and liquorice flavours. The middle palate is powerful and tight. The silky tannin melts languorously on the palate, leading into a long, intense aftertaste. Unusually, this vintage of Cheval Blanc highlights power and intensity.
California is considered "New World". The growing conditions are moderate to hot with plenty of sunshine and almost zero rainfall. What does this mean? More sunshine = more ripeness. More ripeness = bold, concentrated fruit flavors. California soils are fertile, alluvial and loamy. Mother Nature is more predictable here so blends are less of a necessity. It is common to find both pure varietal wines or Cabernet blends coming from California. When blended,  you might see Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Zinfandel and/or Petit Verdot.
Classic California Winetasting Notes – Dense, dark and almost opaque red wine with more blue and violet highlights. The color saturation holds well to the edge and usually stains the glass as well. Alcohol levels are high, usually at +13.5%, acid levels are low-moderate, tannins are supple and textured. The fruit flavors are of jammy blackberry preserves, cassis, and stewed plums. It is not uncommon to find a cocoa, coffee or vanilla note in the wine due to impartation of new oak. The wine is friendly and welcoming in its youth. Wines can progress with age but it is less imperative with this region in comparison to Bordeaux.
Larkmead Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2016
Larkmead Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2016 $172.00
A classic mix of red and black bramble fruit aromas dominate the perfume that is accentuated with hints of bittersweet chocolate. With time in the glass and exposure to oxygen, the aromas become more focused, high-toned, and expressive. On the palate a similar evolution occurs; at first the wine maintains its dark forest-floor fruit character, showing more blue tones before the crushed gravel and earthy finish leave the palate fresh and wanting a second sip.
Dominus Estate Christian Moueix Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
Dominus Estate Christian Moueix Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 $374.99
Filled with notes of deep forest berries, juniper and truffle, Dominus 2016 is restrained and compact. The tightly woven structure promises to reveal fine tannins, earth, lavender and dark chocolate and will improve over many years.
Blend: 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Petit Verdot, 8% Cabernet Franc
Screaming Eagle 'The Flight' Napa Valley 2018
Screaming Eagle 'The Flight' Napa Valley 2018 $1,499.99
The 2018 The Flight is bright and effusive from the outset. A rush of ripe red/purplish fruit makes a strong opening statement. Pliant, racy and enveloping, the 2018 offers terrific immediacy, with soft contours and silky tannins adding to its considerable allure. Rose petal, lavender and blood orange infuse the silky, creamy finish with gorgeous layers of nuance. I would give the 2018 a few years to allow the tannins to soften, but it will be hard to resist until then.
Harlan Estate Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
Harlan Estate Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 $1,500.00
For over two decades, Harlan Estate has been committed to creating a California "first growth" wine estate. Founded in 1984, Harlan Estate is set in the western hills of Oakville, rising above the fabled Napa Valley benchlands. Carved from the raw land and built for generations, the estate is over 240 acres of natural spendor, 15% of which are under vine, planted to the classic varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.
In 1976, the Judgment of Paris shocked the wine world. In a blind tasting, an all-French panel of experts rated a California Cabernet above four top Bordeaux, elevating Napa from backwater to world class.
Genevieve Murphy

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