Friday, May 25, 2012

Walla Walla Cab v. Napa

This week I take a break from following the Giro and chase the pro peleton through California.

The Tour of California is an 8 stage race that starts in Northern California and traces a route South ending in Los Angeles.  This race is a new comer to the pro race scene and after 3 years of racing in February moved to May to take on one of the three Grand Tours - the Giro d' Italia.  How much tradition is this California upstart taking on?  2012 marks the 95th edition of this race through Italy while 2012 marks the 7th edition of the Tour of California.

When you want to put on a show you go BIG.  The final stage of most of the big stage races, like the Tour de France, is really just a ceremony.  A spectacle celebrating the glory of the race and place, oh and don't forget the bike racers...

Where do you go for this type of spectacle in California?  Hollywood? Beverly Hills? Los Angeles?  How about all three?!  Yes, the Tour of California ended with a race that visited all three of these California hot spots.  The stage started in Beverly Hills, passed through Hollywood and then ended on the streets of Los Angeles.  The winner of the tour had already been decided the day before on the final mountain stage.  So that left this stage for the sprinters to go for glory one final time.  And Peter Sagan from Liquigas-Cannondale flexed his muscles again,  winning his 5th stage of the ToC.  I think that was a record.

If you are going to go big with California wine you can go a variety of places.  Napa, Sonoma County, the Central Coast ...  For this week's matchup we go to Napa the AVA some people consider to be the King of US Appelations.  And while we are at it we will select a Cabernet Sauvignon, the grape many consider to be the King of grapes.

This week's matchup features a new comer from Walla Walla Washington taking on the old timer from California.

2007 Skylite Cellars v. 2007 Beringer Private Reserve

Tale of the Tape

2007 Skylite Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon

100% Cabernet Sauvignon from the Skylite Cellars, Les Colline and Pepperbridge vineyards in the Walla Walla AVA.

Aged in 100% New American Oak barrels

Purchased at the Poverty Bay Wine Festival for $23.40.

2007 Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

97% Caberbnet Sauvignon from 7 Napa estate vineyards with 3 % Cabernet Franc.

• Cabernet Sauvignon: Bancroft Ranch (34%)
• Steinhauer (33%)
• Chabot (8%)
• Lampyridae (8%)
• St. Helena Home (6%)
• Marston (5%)
• Rancho del Oso (3%)
• Steinhauer Cabernet Franc (2%)
• Bancroft Ranch Cabernet Franc (1%)

Aged in hand selected, toasted, new French Oak barrels for at least 24 months.

Received as a Christmas gift (thank you!)

Round 1. First Opening

The Beringer struts into the ring with all the trappings and aura of a 7 time champion representing 7 different Napa California vineyards.  We're talking silk robes, sequins, entourage, the whole 9 yards.  The big question is whether or not there is substance to back up the show.  Time will tell.

The Beringer nose is dark currant and light dusty spices.  The palate shows dark fruit, currant and tart cedar spices with a dry tart cherry finish.  This Luchador is powerful with a huge tannic backbone.

The Skylite Cellars cab might be a new comer to the ring, but it is not intimated by the show.  This Walla Walla cab is going toe-to-toe with the Napa bad boy showing a nose of dark currant, chalky dusty earth, leather and menthol.  The palate is dark currant, black cherry and cedar spices with a toffee finish.

Right from the start it is clear that this match is featuring two heavyweights all up in each other's grill.  The first round is close with Skylite taking the points and taking Beringer by surprise.

Round 2. One hour after opening

Do you know who you're messing with?  Do you punk?!  The Beringer Luchador is angry and an angry bruiser can be bad news.  The nose is evolving to show cherry, dark berries, logan berry, black berry, cedar spice and some hazelnut.  The palate is tart dark cherry, leather and semisweet chocolate with a tart dry finish,

You talkin' to me?  The Skylite isn't backing down with a nose showing dusty spices with dark cherry, currants and semi sweet chocolate.  The palate is dark cherry, cinnamon, toffee and clove spices with a finish featuring coffee bean and cocoa.

Many find it hard to believe, but this youngster from Washington is taking the fight straight to the established star from Napa.

Skylite Cellars takes another round and a commanding 2-0 lead in the match.

Round 3.  One day after opening

This is it and the Beringer is looking for the knock out blow or tap out choke hold.  Showing some supreme stamina the nose is toasty oats and cherry with a palate featuring black cherry and cedar spices with dry slightly spicy finish.

Skylite is building too.  This Walla Walla Cab is showing some major skillz late in the match.  The nose is showing dark currant and soy with a palate of black cherry, clove spices, menthol and a finish of dusty cocoa and toffee.

Skylite ducked and dodged, bobbed and weaved and ultimately landed some serious blows taking round three and the match in a surprise result of 3 rounds to 0.

Wrap up and General Observations

Both of these Cabs were big and bold.  The Skylite Cellars was slightly more approachable right now.  I can see the Beringer continuing to age well in your cellar.  It was good now, but the tannin structure would tend to indicate some good aging opportunity with this Napa heavyweight.

The Skylite was up to the challenge and with a contract at about 1/3 the value of the Beringer it is a steal.  Billy Bean would love the Skylite with the huge value delivered at such an affordable price.

I would give the Skylite an 89 and the Beringer an 88.  I also anticipate that both of these Luchadors will continue to build strength and style over the next several years.

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