On my way home from work tonight, I decided to pick up a nice bottle of Cabernet. We were going to be grilling steaks. I was going to pick up a bottle of Heitz, which is one of my favorites. I stopped at the Wine Connection in Del Mar (Via De La Valle near I-5). They always keep it in stock. After grabbing the aforementioned bottle, I saw a bottle of Owl Ridge Brigden Vineyard Cabernet on display. I had never seen this wine before. In fact, I never even heard of it. The label did not look familiar. I was about to set it down when the fellow behind the counter said”hey, that’s a good bottle”. We got to chatting, and he explained to me that the reason I never heard of it was that this was a new winery. He seemed to know a lot about the winery, and a lot about wine in general. I like it when the people at the wine store know more about the wines than I do. That’s the way it’s supposed to be, but is becoming rare with so many stores hiring un-knowledgeable sales people. I suspect that the kind gentlemen who was helping me was probably the owner or manager. I didn’t get his name.
In any event, The fruit for this wine is from the Spring Mountain area of the Mayacamas Mountains, which is the mountain range that separates Napa Valley from Sonoma Valley. The Brigden Vineyard is on the Sonoma side of Spring Mountain, outside of the AVA district for Spring Mountain. For anyone who doesn’t know this area, there are some heavy hitters growing grapes here. The famous Pride Mountain Vineyards straddles the Sonoma-Napa line on Spring Mountain, and Paloma Winery as well as a slew of other “biggies” are not far away. The wine is 100% cabernet sauvignon, and aged in 40% new French Oak and 60% older French Oak. This should keep it from being overly “oaked”. The winemaker, Joe Otos, says it has Bordeaux elegance, and is not like a typical California Cab. I’m not one to accept such “pie in the sky” claims, and believe that the proof will lie within the glass. I usually am skeptical of new wineries with unproven track records, but the chap behind the counter seemed sincere, so I bought a bottle and took it home.
The wine was awesome!. No need to age it. It’s ready right now! And this is coming from someone who rarely enjoys the very young cabs. The bouquet was a little subdued at first, but after a few minutes it really opened up. You need to give the glass a nice swirl to release the hidden aromas, but what a treat if you do so. One good swirl and your glass will be bursting with blackberries and anise/black licorice. The tannins were beautifully hidden behind the fruit. Although this was a 2003, it could have passed for something with five years of bottle age under its belt. Sexy, lush, and silky. Luscious fruit. A long finish. I did not tell my wife what we were drinking and she thought that it was Bordeaux, just like the winemaker said! Imagine that. Hyperbole which is actually true. Although the wine is drinking nicely right now, I suspect that it should hold up well for quite a while for those who wish to cellar it. However, I can not imagine that it can get much better, given the current drinking enjoyment.
I hope this winery becomes a long term player in the California wine scene, and I hope they can continue to obtain fruit from the Brigden Vineyard, (which I was previously unfamiliar with). If they can do this, I look forward to many bottles of this beautiful wine in the future. Excellent wine: 4 STARS.
Guest review (T.E.): “I love this wine”. “It seems too well tamed for a 100% Cab, but has too much kick for a Merlot. Could this be a super-duper Meritage?”. “It got even better as it opened up”. “This is the best bottle we have had for a while”. FIVE STARS.
Region: Sonoma County
* Prior Wine of the Week Winner!