Bright medium ruby in the glass, good earth and thick savory meatiness on the nose. Gobs of fruit: ripe cherry, peach and raspberry, but not TOO much fruit–and that’s a GOOD thing. This is a VERY inexpensive cab, and the one thing I hate in a cheap wine is over-the-top fruit. Unlike most reds down at knee- and waist-hi on the shelf, this shows exemplary restraint, and honestly smells far more expensive than I know it is. Spice and earth sing that great Cabernet song and it is stunningly varietal-correct.

The piquant acid and grapefruit minerality noticeable in the bouquet transfers seamlessly onto the tongue. It’s thin and vibrant–ANOTHER anti-hallmark of entry-level cabs. But it has plenty of oomph, the concentrated berry going nowhere NEAR cloying or chubby: everything choreographed perfectly across a briary middle perfectly bitter as the rasp of young fruit bristles and preens for the camera. Not a speck of heat on it and although common sense, marketing and the AVA say otherwise, I have a hard time believing this over 14-oh. Tannin is a wiry affair, poking and prodding at the fruit–uplifting and praising it far into the finish that feels a tad sweet.

I absolutely DESPISE the whole tired “I would put this up against wines 3X the price!” megaphoned by every boomer bringing his Charles Shaw into the party, but this thing drinks WAYYYY over its price-point and is going to age in the 10-yr range marvelously. An odd story: Lodi via Canada, but this is not a story-telling blog. I don’t know where this is marketed or how much there is, but if you aren’t glassing this you’re an idiot–either in the states or the frozen north. And if you’re merely a consumer, a couple cases of this will NOT set you back much. Are you hearing me loud and clear?

2019 STEL+MAR Cabernet Sauvignon Lodi California 13.7

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