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Senior editor James Laube, Wine Spectator's expert on the wines of California, joined the magazine in 1983.
James Laube

Dinners with Two Classic California Cabernets: Napa and Sonoma

Carter Napa Valley Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard 2005 and Peter Michael Les Pavots Knights Valley 2006

James Laube
Posted: June 17, 2011

In Napa, spring has felt more like winter or fall this year. One benefit of that is that red wine season has been extended. For my brother’s visit earlier this month, I opened two California Cabernets for dinners.

The first night, we uncorked Carter’s 2005 Napa Valley Beckstoffer To Kalon Cabernet to go with our grilled fare. (We grew up in Southern California, so grilling is part of our culture even in inclement weather.) The next night we tasted Peter Michael’s 2006 Knights Valley Les Pavots, a Bordeaux-style blend. Both wines were fantastic.

The Carter has softened ever so slightly, but the fruit is pure and caressing, simply a joy to drink. This wine is at a good drinking stage for me, yet it appears to have the makings for another 15 years in the cellar. Non-blind, it’s still a solid 95-point effort, as it was when I first reviewed it in a blind tasting.

The 2006 Les Pavots was also a 95-point score, showing just as well as it did when I tasted it in a vertical lineup, more like a Bordeaux with its density and cedary cigar box touches. In contrast to the Carter, it shows a different flavor profile, with the additions of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. The 2006 vintage was cooler than 2005, too, though the best wines from this year should age well.

WineSpectator.com members: Read the original blind-tasting reviews for Carter Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard 2005 (95 points, $75) and Peter Michael Les Pavots Knights Valley 2006 (95 points, $175).

• Plus, get scores and tasting notes for more recently rated California Cabernets.

Louis Robichaux
Highland Village, Texas —  June 17, 2011 4:56pm ET
Excellent QPR for the Carter. 95pts & Beckstoffer To Kalon fruit for a release price of $75. Nice.
Delmonico Stkhse @ Venetian
Las Vegas, Nevada, USA —  June 13, 2012 12:57am ET
I love Mark Carter's wines. I've been drinking them from the first vintage. What a class act as well.

Can't forget about the Peter Michael either... Always stunning.

Both are easy to love, but the price of the Carter makes it particularly enticing.

Choosing between them is not a bad problem to have...

Thanks for the review, James.

Kevin M. Vogt, Master Sommelier

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