The first thing you notice about this wine when you jam your nose into it is that it’s NOT Paso Robles. Previous iterations of this cab have been Paso fruit, and I had to do a quick label-check when the smell startled me. Nope: this is Happy Canyon, and the differences are glaring. Tight cranberry over a gorgeous pond-water elegance and realism of funk–the fruit purposefully ripe but not cloying–massive chunks of leather and tobacco and black chocolate flowing in under savory herb and delicate briar. I know how hard it is to reach *Napa Cab* folks–they have difficulty expanding their horizons out of the holy grail–but you all need to sit up and take notice, because this little corner of Santa Barbara County makes Cabernet like no other region of California you’ve turned your nose up at.
Mouth-filling and delicious, the fruit streamlined and perfectly in focus, black pie-cherry, pomegranate and pine-cone laying down solid spice-berry beats but stopping far shy of dripping jammy decadence–opting for a clearly more-classic interpretation of the variety. Could we even say Bordeaux-like? Nah… it’s straight-up California but between the cellar-floor in the nose and the acid-wracked fruit, this *could* come off as one of the more plush offerings from France. Citrus minerality rules the core: a grapefruit and blood-orange abrasion not-quite drawing blood, but needing lotion and a scratch. Peppery while dank, cheery with a side of sulk, tannins a monstrous affair difficult to even grasp–so well wound into the fruit they are. This is a ridiculously young wine–nearly criminal to drink at this age–showing a bit of heat and bitter sentiments around rough edges but the foundation of beauty is here, and will age timelessly. Buy a case and drink one every two years.
2018 DUSTY NABOR Cabernet Sauvignon Happy Canyon Santa Ynez Valley Santa Barbara Co. 14.5