Big fat candied oak and ridiculously syrupy stuff I suppose was once fruit greets your nose. Bereft of spice, angst, or anything really interesting, it’s just steaming mounds of typical Paso Robles flatulence and *bigger-is-better* liqueur. No herbaceousness, no funk, no mineral graininess or acidic excitement, what you have is thick, flaccid sweetness coupled with what I am sure other reviewers will call “dark chocolate” and probably “supple vanilla”. Decanted heavily.
I’m guessing this is a bottle which has grown out of the former *White Label* cab which loyal readers will remember I have raved about in past years. And being that I liked that one so much, it was probably a hard-sell as a single variety alongside an equally-priced and FAR more 99%-friendly Oyster Ridge flagship (not to mention the Renegade chub-rub). Well, they’ve done it here. They’ve certainly made a cab the masses will chug.
It redeems itself a bit in the mouth. I definitely prefer drinking it to smelling it–but not by much. All the ills of the nose transfer directly onto the tongue: sweet and lacking memorable fruit, the burn of alcohol appearing early and never letting go. Meager and cool in the middle, this is the only place restraint is shown and the stellar under-pinnings of well-bred cab manage a brief spotlight. Intensely tannic–there’s another point in its favor–but the wash of gorgeous bitter fails to offset the saccharine glow and viscous heat.
The category of +50$ Paso cab continues to grow, and this is another solid contender in the *style* most of them aim for. But these are not wines I choose to drink. These are *tourist wines* designed for the least-discerning of palates raised on Justin and Herman Story and Daou and Epoch and Linne Calado and another 100 I could list. I DO say frequently Paso Robles WILL be eventually knows for its cabs–more than the classic Rhone pigeon-hole (and more controversially I STILL believe Santa Margarita grows the best cab in the region) but hopefully it won’t become known for cabs like this. Oh wait. Too late.
2017 ANCIENT PEAKS ‘Pearl Collection’ Cabernet Sauvignon Santa Margarita AVA Paso Robles 14.7