by Fred McMillin
for June 21, 1999

 

A Tale of Two Cabs


Prologue

Wine #1—A $10, 1994 California Cabernet Sauvignon Tasters comments:

  • "Great; best buy."
  • "Sweet fruit aftertaste. Good tannin structure."
  • "Good value."

    Wine #2—A $10, 1994 California Cabernet Sauvignon. Comments by the same tasters:

  • "A bit hot and rough."
  • "Hot. Acidic."
  • "Not nearly as good as Wine #1."


    Surpise

    Shenandoah Vineyards The two wines were the same...from the same case... both stored under the same conditions...corks in good shape. Why did these panelists find them so different?? The envelope, please.


    Why the Difference?

    We taste our wines in pairs. Wine #1 was tasted with another $10 California Cab, that is, a wine in its same price range.

    But, Wine #2 was tasted with a $58 Cal Cab (which we'll cover in another WineDay). Clearly, results were affected by the level of the competition. In fact, the panel rated Wine #2 18% below Wine #1.


    Wine of the Day

    1994 Shenandoah Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Cal.
    Amador County grapes
    Composition—Includes 19% Cabernet Franc
    Rating—RECOMMENDED in its price range (unless you pair it with a $58 Cab!)
    Contact—Shirley Sobon, (209) 245-4455, FAX (209 )245-5156
    Price—$10 when it went into my cellar.


    Postscript

    Some of the most experienced tasters were not affected by the quality of the associated wine. About 20% of the panel rated Wines #1 and #2 the same...However, this tells me to continue our current Wine Picks procedure. We taste and report wines in their own price range. Thus, only Wine #1 will appear in our Picks.

     
    About the Writer

    Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.

     
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