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james laube's wine flights

A Deal on Napa Cabernet

Photo by: Greg Gorman

Posted: Nov 1, 2006 1:05pm ET

Cabernet drinkers, er, make that Napa Valley Cabernet drinkers, are frustrated a lot these days.

Too many high prices and hard-to-get wines is a common refrain I hear from readers.

So, just when you think that a luscious Napa Cabernet for $30 is an endangered species, along comes a pleasant surprise.

I’m happy today to offer a 2004 Cabernet that’s not only an excellent wine, but at $28 a bottle, a real deal. It’s from Tamber Bey, a new winery with vineyards in Yountville.

I tried the 2004 Two Rivers Vineyard in a blind tasting at my office in Napa yesterday. It offers aromas of red currant, plum, herb, sage and dusty cedar. It’s complex and concentrated on the palate, turning supple and gracious, ending with a long, elegant aftertaste. Thomas Brown is the winemaker, and 600 cases were produced.

Owners Barry and Carol Waitte bought their vineyard in Yountville in 1999, and I’ve liked all three of their estate-grown wines, including the 2004 Chardonnay Two Rivers ($28), a rich, honeyed wine, with smoky hazelnut and apricot flavors, and a 2003 Oakville Cabernet ($50, 300 cases) that offered sweet ripe plum and wild berry fruit, with polished tannins.

What sets the two Cabernets apart is, for me, the difference in vintages. Both fit into the very good range for me. The 2004 is more supple and harmonious, with riper fruit flavors than the 2003, which is more austere, true to the vintage.

And of course, it’s half the price.

Jj Gallagher
Near Napa, Ca —  November 1, 2006 3:37pm ET
Hi James, I was thrilled to read of another great wine from 2004 in the $30 range. We recently tried, and bought a few cases of, the 2004 Coho Cab at $30. It was rec by the 'wine guys' at Copia. I am hopeful there will be even more great finds from this vintage. Have you tasted anything else from 2004 that rang your bell? Thanks for the tip!
James Laube
Napa, CA —  November 1, 2006 8:50pm ET
I liked the Coho as well...
Paul Anderson
Longview, TX —  November 1, 2006 10:02pm ET
Thanks James, I was able to snag a half case of this wine. I need a few more good Cabs in my collection.
Matt Devan
Fairhope, Alabama —  November 2, 2006 11:11am ET
thanks for the notes James!What do you think of Trincheros family reserve line? We are just receiving the 2002 Mainstreet Vineyard Cab, 2002 Lewelling Vineyard Cab, 2004 Mario's Reserve Meritage (Napa Valley), 2004 Chicken Ranch Vineyard Cab, and 2004 Stagecoach Vineyard Cab in Alabama. I've tasted the wines on three separate occasions, and was really impressed by their pricing and quality. I'm not sure what the suggested retail is, but based on their wholesale, $34 will most likely be a standard retail... with Chicken ranch clocking in around $22.
James Laube
Napa, CA —  November 2, 2006 11:37am ET
Matt, haven't seen them yet but will track them down today.
Matt Devan
Fairhope, Alabama —  November 2, 2006 1:50pm ET
Cool! BTW here are my tasting notes to wet your appetite!

Trinchero Mario's Reserve Meritage, Napa Valley 2004 $34
This is a beautiful wine! Pure blackberry, vanilla, and cedar on the nose, full bodied, powerful and intense interplay of cassis and oak continuing through a long finish. Similar to the top 2003 Pauillac producers. --M.D.

Trinchero Mainstreet Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena 2002 $34
Dark, opaque purple/crimson, powerful tannin, very ripe fruit, excellent length and power. Cassis dominates the wine with hints of eucalyptus. Excellent! --M.D.

Trinchero Chicken Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford 2004 $22
Less definition, structure, and length then their other single vineyard cabs, the Chicken Ranch offers soft berry flavors buoyed by good acidity. --M.D.

Trinchero Lewelling Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena 2002 $34
Powerful nose of graphite, brambly blackberry, and underbrush, this is an eager to please, powerful wine with loads of fruit. A hint of bitterness on the finish. --M.D.

Trinchero Stagecoach Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 2004 $34
My favorite of the Trinchero wines, this dark garnet colored Cab offers a stylish nose of polished fruit with great delineation. The mouth-feel is wondrous; numerous veined flavor packets strewn throughout the mouth fire the taste synopses for a very long time. Amazing! --M.D.
Greg Bardakos
San Jose, Ca —  April 6, 2007 7:04am ET
The Tamber Bey chardonnay wines are ones that should be looked at A.S.A.P. I am not an ML person. For some reason this wine has a structure that works well with this type of wine making. I taste alot of wines, I mean alot of wines and Mr. Barry caught my eye one night when he was in our restaraunt. Thanks for coming Barry, besides paying for your dinner bill, you also educated myself and staff that night of a wine that basically is a great value; especially these days for what people have no idea even exsists. This is one of my luxuries of my job(Tasting a lot of wines). Education in the wine industry is one of the most underwhelming things. Let me just say that everybody is right-and NOBODY is wrong. Everyone loves to be enhanced. If they are, "They Smile". Thanks for reading, Smiling is key,GREG

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