For Christmas, my younger brother sent C. and me a half-dozen bottles of wine through (though we haven’t looked into continuing the service since our wine stash is big enough as it is, and just getting bigger). The ones we’ve opened so far have been uneven in quality, but this one is enjoyable enough that I’d definitely consider paying a visit to X Winery.

Most of the California Cabernets I’ve tasted have been on the big, oaky, aggressive side – wines that my gut instinct would tell me to cellar for 5 – 10 years, at least, to soften the tannins. This particular Cab, young though it is, is already pretty well-balanced. The tannins are present but not huge, the nose is toasty-spicy, and there’s fruit as well as some rich cedar on the palate. I still think it would benefit from another few years, but I’m not sorry we opened it!

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We seem to be on quite the Healdsburg kick lately. Tonight’s bottle comes from Wilson Winery, which I honestly don’t remember visiting, though C. assures me I was there. He also says it was our first stop that trip, so I can’t blame my forgetfulness on being tipsy. Apparently it has a great view – I kind of do remember the view.

My overall feeling on this bottle is that we should have left it alone for a few more years. It’s tight – very dry and tannic – and I wonder whether it would have opened up some more with time. We discovered over dinner (entirely shopped for and cooked by the lovely and talented C., by the by) that this is not a great food wine; its character was hidden by the flavors of the meal. On its own, it displays cedar, smoke and caramel on the nose, with a Chardonnay-like butteriness and the barest hint of plummy fruit on the palate. The coffee/mocha thing the winery’s tasting notes mention is there too. In sum, not a spectacular wine, and probably not a winery we will go out of our way to visit again.

OK, to be completely random because I don’t want to end on a negative note tonight: We brought a bottle of the Hall 2003 Napa Valley Cabernet to Easter brunch chez PS & EJ last month, and it was a huge hit. If we ever stop obsessing over the Russian River Valley and head back up to Napa, we have to visit Hall again.

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