My reviewing habits tend to be pretty scattered. Looking back over past few years of reviews there is a frequent switch between regions and varieties. Rarely do I drink wines from the same producer back to back but these past few weeks I did just that. It was more coincidental than purposeful as I bought this waiting for the Liberty School Zinfandel to come in. I do review a fair amount of California Cabernet Sauvignon so was not put out to be trying this instead of what I had been looking for. Turns out it sat in waiting until after I had tried the Zinfandel but I was eager to try it out as the last review was quite delicous.
This Liberty School wine comes, as stated on the bottle, from Paso Robles which is located halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. The Hope Family Wine vineyards are in a microclimate similar to the Rhone Valley so Rhone varieties, such as Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre thrive here. These varieties go into their top tier wines. They also grow Burgundy and Bordeaux varieties such as Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. I had assumed then that the fruit for this wine would be from their vineyards but it turns out the grapes are sourced from various locations in the Paso Robles region. Even though they don’t grow these grapes specifically they are still getting them from a smaller region compared to a broad California label. This helps maintain a higher quality while keeping the price lower, and this shows; the wine is quite good all around.
Look: In the glass this wine is a very dark red colour with slight hues of purple, deeply concentrated right to the rim and has thick legs.
Smell: The aromas are moderately strong with blackberry, plums and cherry. It is noticeably herbal with hints of bell pepper, eucalyptus, and lots of spicy black pepper. There is also an abundance of vanilla aroma, in fact at one point it was so strong I thought I was smelling a chocolate chip cookie.
Taste: This wine is medium bodied with very soft tannins and medium acidity. It has spent 18 months aging in neutral oak which mellows out the harsh tannins of Cabernet Sauvignon and makes this one very smooth, definitely a step up from most value driven California Cabs. Not as much fruit on the palate (compared to the aroma) but there is dark fruit similar to the nose. It has a long finish with lots of char, tobacco, and baking spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, overall kind of bitter.
Conclusion: This wine is nicely balanced and very smooth from such long aging in oak. It is not as full bodied as most Cabernet Sauvignon but has a nice harmony of fruit and oak flavours. This one is definitely a step above your average California Cabernet Sauvignon but comes just a bit short of complexity and body so I give it an 8.0+/10.
- Cabernet Sauvignon (85%) Merlot (10%) Syrah (5%)
- Paso Robles AVA, California, USA
- 2013 – 13.5% ABV
- Liberty School (Hope Family Wines)
- $20.75 at Chateau Wine & Spirits (Lacombe)
- Composite cork