Ladera Vineyards - 2005 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the varietals that can seem ubiquitous in California. Especially in Napa, it seems, everyone has at least one Cabernet Sauvignon on their tasting list when you visit a winery. Part of this is of course because Cabernet Sauvignon generally does very well in Napa Valley. But in some cases Wineries seem to produce Cabernet Sauvignon because they feel compelled to do so to keep up with the Joneses so to speak. More often though in Napa, Cabernet Sauvignon is the main focus of quite a few Wineries. Ladera Vineyards is one such winery. They're a family winery that pays careful attention to every step of the process. They make a couple of other varietals, but Cabernet is their focus. This week I'll look at three distinct Cabernet Sauvignons in their portfolio. The first one up is a blend of Cabernets from each of their Estate Vineyards. The Ladera Vineyards 2005 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is a blend of Estate fruit from Lone Canyon Vineyard and Howell Mountain. 4% Petit Verdot was blended in. The wine spent 17 months in 47% new French oak barrels with the balance in used French Oak. The suggested retail price for this wine is $39.

Berry, cedar and vanilla notes lead a tremendously inviting nose. The first sip brings out casis, blackberry and spice notes. Rich, deep mountain fruit is the hallmark of this wine and it shines throughout the palate. The mid-palate is full bodied, lush and mouth filling. This Cabernets finish has a distinct earthiness that will emerge more as the wine evolves and ages. Significant white pepper and nutmeg spice dance along the tongue and back of the throat as well. This is an elegant example of Napa Valley Cabernet.

What I liked best about this particular Cabernet Sauvignon is how inviting and open it was immediately out of the bottle. Of course decanting helps it open up and achieve an increased level of accessibility and charm, but it shines from the get go. This is a well-balanced wine that features bright fruit, good acidity and a firm tannic structure. It's drinking well now, should evolve for 5 or 6 years and drink nicely for another handful of years after that.

When you get to the upper thirties in Napa Valley Cabernet you have quite a few choices. The Ladera Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon outclasses its price point. It easily outshines quite a few wines that have more famous names in this price range.

Up Next: Ladera Vineyards - Lone Canyon Vineyard Cabernet

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