January 15, 2008

2004 Sequoia Grove Cabernet Sauvignon

The Cabernet from Sequoia Grove has been receiving a lot of attention and making many peoples lists over the past few years. I first tried the 2004 at a tasting a few months back and apparently overlooked it among the the other wines of the night, but since then I bought a few bottles and decided to pop one tonight. Well folks, Sequoia Grove is making quite a comeback.

Surrounded by (surprisingly enough) giant Sequoia trees, the winery is located in Rutherford and was founded in 1980 by the Allen family. Their wines have received many accolades throughout the 80’s, then sort of dwindled throughout the late 90's until a few years ago, when ownership changed hands and the Kopf family began pumping money into the winery. One sudden improvement has been the quality of the wine, and for the time being you can still buy it for a relatively low price. In blind tastings, their Cabernet has outperformed other wines three times the price. One of the main forces driving this recent shift in style is winemaker and president, Michael Trujillo.

Michael worked side by side founder Jim Allen practically since the beginning of Sequoia Grove, but it wasn't until Jim retired that he took over as President/ Head Winemaker and began taking the wine in a new, exciting direction. Instead of Sonoma and Monterey fruit, they now use grapes from Rutherford, among other areas and have spent the money for some necessary upgrades of the tanks, crushers, and other equipment. The result is elegant, concentrated wine with the distinct sense of Rutherford Terroir. As well as making wine for Sequoia Grove, Michael also bottles small production 'cult' wine under his own label, Karl Lawrence, which is highly regarded and has a waiting list to order wine. Karl Lawrence was founded in 1991 and is the realization of Michael and longtime friend Bryan Henry's dream of producing outstanding Napa Valley Cabernet.

Over the past few years lots of changes have been taking place in Sequoia Grove and people have certainly been taking notice. Now the question is just how long will the price stay under $40?

Tasting Notes:
No decanting necessary, this wine drank well out of the bottle but definitely improved with time in the glass. A very nice inky black/ garnet color, the nose is a mix of pepper, oak and cherry with hints of vanilla extract as well as some significant greenish/ bell pepper components. In the mouth the wine is fairly smooth with sour cherry, raspberry and pepper flavors that are big and ripe but manage to avoid becoming heavy and cloying. There’s a certain lightness that I appreciate which makes it easy to have a few glasses in a row. The only thing lacking is the finish, which falls a little short. A definite winner to drink either with food or by itself.

Score: 86-88

Alcohol: 14.2

Price: $30

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