Thursday, December 31, 2015

WA Cabernet Sauvignon v. California

The year is coming to a close and the pro cyclists are starting to announce their race programs for 2016.  Like any other sport, there is plenty of optimism and excitement as a new season begins.

Lucha Vino has caught the fever for a new season too!  The only cure isn't more cowbell.  No, the cure will be found by exploring more wines from around the world in 2016, looking for challengers to Washington State's excellent stable of wine Luchadors. 

As a conclusion to 2015, this installment features Washington and California Cabernet Sauvignon locked up in an epic struggle for supremacy.

2005 Gamache Vintners Reserve Vineyard Select v. 2005 Dehlinger Russian River Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Tale of the Tape
2005 Gamache Vintners Reserve Vineyard Select Cabernet Sauvignon

100% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced 50/50 from the Gamache Family Vineyard in Yakima and Champoux Vineyard located in the Horse Heaven Hills AVA

Purchased from Garagiste for $29

2005 Dehlinger Russian River Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

100% Estate grown Cabernet Sauvignon from the Russian River Valley AVA

Received as a Snooth 2015 Secret Santa gift

Round 1.  First Opening

These are two savvy, veteran, Luchadors.  With 10 years of age they are both ring veterans and it shows as they saunter into the ring with plenty of confidence.

Dehlinger is the first to launch an attack with a nose of dusty dark cherries, candle wax and some funky forest floor.  The palate bursts out with dark cherry, a combination of cinnamon, clove and white pepper spices topped off with some dry cocoa powder notes on the finish mingled with another dose of white pepper and clove spices.

Gamache counters with a combination move that starts high with a nose that shows funky black cherry, dry bramble spices, earthy minerals and notes of licorice.   The palate goes low, sweeping the legs with more black cherry, coffee bean, clove spices and dry cocoa powder that repeats on the finish along with menthol spices.

Round 1 was evenly matched, both luchadors landed blows and showed some style and panache.  The scoring was close with Dehlinger taking a slight edge as a result of launching the first attack.

Round 2.  One hour after Opening

The Dehlinger cab is continuing to bank on the style it showed in round one.  The nose is developing darker notes of dusty black cherry and dry spices that are beginning to show more herbal and mineral notes.  The palate is also showing black cherry, clove spices and dry cocoa powder notes that finish off with clove and menthol spices on the finish.

Gamache circles the ring and grabs the California challenger in a wicked headlock.  The nose is getting more potent with funky dark smoky sandalwood, black cherry, currants and light mint and menthol spices.  The palate features dark cherry, and a combination of menthol and clove spices that are finished off with dry cocoa powder and menthol spices.

Gamache came on strong in round two, winning the round and evening the match at 1 round a piece.

Round 3.  One day after Opening

This will be the deciding round in this even matchup of well aged Cabernet Sauvignon Luchadors.

Dehlinger seems to have lost a bit of snap and is showing off some more savory character on the nose with dark cherry, savory light tabasco and herbal tobacco leaf.  The palate is showing stamina and power with a trifecta of fruit, spices and savoriness - dark cherry, cracked pepper, savory tobacco leaf and a finish that is rounded off with cloves, white pepper and dry cocoa powder.

The Gamache heavyweight isn't intimidated by this late show of force.  The nose continues to dominate with dark cherry, licorice and menthol herbal tinged spices.  The palate completes the 1-2 punch with dark cherry, dry cocoa powder and clove spices that repeat on the finish.

In a controversial decision the judges award round three to the Washington Luchador from Gamache Vintners.  That seals the deal and gives Gamache the overall victory 2 rounds to 1.

Wrap up and overall observations.

Both of these Cabernet Sauvignons were showing exceptionally well, each with 10 years of age.

The battle spilled over into the alley with challenges from both luchadors to continue the bout without the officials.  The wines continued to show well for another two days.  The herbal notes on the Dehlinger continued to move more to the forefront as the days wore on.  The Gamache Cabernet continued to show the earthy, mineral driven spices that many people associate with the Champoux vineyard.

This match definitely proves that Cabernet from Washington and the Russian River Valley will continue to show well with age.


  1. Nice writeup, Lucha. Hopefully the Gamache's headlock was more effective than the weak-sister one-for-show in the accompanying photo.

    Sign me up for assistance in future such judging challenges!