Nearly impenetrable ruby with a strong dark nose of wet wood and dank briar. A smoky heat comes off it, part pleather, part gear-lube, all concentrated ripe fruit with a hint of glorious barnyard. Sweet cassis and a good chunk of oak smooth and appeal, chalk and limestone petrichor brace you for a big thick cab.

How these wines get so ripe in the frozen North always astonishes me–and their cab is not alone. This think exudes near-Paso-like chunkiness, but the severe dry acridness of the briar and mineral nuances sharpen and invigorate the nose, driving everything down to a near-persimmon rasp of sticky berry, glycerin-y and robust.

Good solid cab in the mouth, the blackberry restrained, tepid to exposure–but not exactly shy. Beautiful consistency on the tongue, glassine and refreshingly watery, but alongside serious chops lurk. Maraschino and delicate amaretto poke at sharp cranberry fruit, acid invigorating and morphing slowly to brash tannin. The black-as-night fruit never goes away, making the finish a memorable symphony of dessert and structure.

Mouth-wipingly vibrant, concentration on 11, but don’t get me wrong: this is NOT Napa Valley cab. This isn’t WA cab. Not Austrian cab. The main take-away is this is not green and weird. This could show shockingly well against a wide grouping of cab from all over Sonoma or Mendocino. Either the climate is perfect up there for growing structured, restrained Cabernet, or there’s some serious manipulation going on. I reviewed this 2 years ago and everything is progressing nicely.

2015 DESERT HILLS Cabernet Sauvignon Black Sage Bench Okanagan BC Canada 13.5