Monday, May 16, 2011

Washington Cabernet Sauvignon v. Napa

The Giro d' Italia continues for another two weeks in Italy.  In the mean time, The Tour of California started this weekend in Lake Tahoe.  Well, tried to start this weekend as the first stage was snowed out.  Yes!  Snow in May.  In honor of the Tour of California this week's match features Washington v. Napa Cabernet Sauvignon.

Washington State Cabernet Sauvignon v. Napa

2007 Phillip Leigh Cabernet Sauvignon v. 2007 Franciscan Cabernet Sauvignon

Tale of the tape

2007 Phillip Leigh Cabernet Sauvignon
100% Cabernet Sauvignon from Klipsun and Stillwater Creek Vineyards. Aged in one new barrel, one year-old barrel. 50 cases.
Purchased for $29.00 at Esquin as part of a tasting with the wine maker.

2007 Franciscan Cabernet Sauvignon
6% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot, Malbect from the Carneros AVA.  Aged for 16 months in French and American oak 29% new.  130,310 cases.
Purchased for $21.99 at Esquin (thanks for helping me make the Luchador selection again this week). 

Round 1.  First Opening:

Our Luchador from Washington State steps up big right from the bell.  The Phillip Leigh has a nose of mocha, black cherry and baking spices with a palate of black cherry, currant, semi-sweet chocolate, espresso and cedar spice.  The finish is slightly tart baking spice.

The Franciscan has a nose of sour mineral, earth, peat and currant with a bit of cocoa and spice in the background.  The palate is sour currant and tart cedar with a similar tart cedar finish.

Round 1 is dominated by Phillip Leigh.  Stomping into the ring with a take no prisoners attitude.  This cab is big, bold and sassy right from the gun.

Round 2.  One hour after Opening

The Phillip Leigh is getting bolder with a nose of lively currant, espresso and spiced cocoa.  The palate is similar with a bit more semi-sweet chocolate that trails off in a tart bitter sweet chocolate finish.

The Franciscan is showing a nose of currant and baking spice with the palate dominated by cedar tart tones on top of cranberry and currant.  The finish is quite tart & dry with notes of bitter dry cocoa.

Round 2 is easily taken by Phillip Leigh.  The Franciscan is showing some potential, but is still no match for the bigger, bolder Washington State Luchador.  The unusually dry finish on the Franciscan has me worried that this Luchador may snap like a fossil.

Round 3. One day later

The Phillip Leigh has stamina to spare.  The nose is dark currant, black cherry sandal wood and a bit of semi-sweet chocolate and spice.  The palate is rich currant, black cherry spice box and chocolate that leads to a nice semi-sweet and tart cedar finish

The Franciscan is hanging in there, but still not bold enough to stand up to the Phillip Leigh.  The nose is peat bog, seaweed and currant with a palate of currant a bit of cedar spice and some green pepper with a real dry finish.

Round 3 goes to Phillip Leigh for a clean sweep of all three rounds. 

Wrap up and over all observations

Another match totally dominated by the Luchador from Washington state.  Both wines grew bolder with air and held their character over to the final round.  Overall, the Franciscan was just not able to step up to the same bold, bad and sassy level of Phillip Leigh.

Both wines were good representatives of the Cabernet Sauvignon from their respective regions.  The Phillip Leigh grapes were from the Klipsun vineyard in Red Mountain and the Stillwater Vineyards which is about 60 miles North of Klipsun.  This area of Washington really seems to bring the power with a non-compromising attitude.

I would rate the Franciscan an 86 and the Phillip Leigh an 88.

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