2004 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve
California: Paso Robles
What we say
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Mission Codename: Las Guitarras
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Retrieve a stunning Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Vihuela Winery
Wine Subject: 2004 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Gorgeous deep inky red to purple-black
Smell – Fragrant and robust with big hits of cranberry, mixed berries, undergrowth, pomegranate and sweet tobacco with tomato stem and a hint of smokey lavendar
Feel – Wet and cool, then big and instantly drying with grippy and mouthcoating sensations
Taste – Jammy and deeply fruity with blackcurrant, plum and wood, with slightest chalky tobacco
Finish – The flavors go long with this wine and are aggressive and dry at first, though mellowing with proper decanting.
Conclusion – This is a great wine. I was unsure about it at first sip as it seemed brash and unrefined. As I spent more time with it, swirling, sniffing and sipping, it really came alive for me. Especially after spending some time in the decanter, this wine really balanced out and revealed wonderful character and rich aromas and flavors. It starts out as hard to pin down, but then almost becomes another wine all together. We have had some great Cabs of late and this great example of Paso Robles has found a spot in my cellar.h3. This week we welcome a new Guest Sommelier Agent Cuvee who contributes his thoughts on several of our wines this week. Here are his comments on today’s wine:
“At first glance this wine looks big, bad and mean with dark, dull purplish-red hues. Being a new Wine Spies senior recruit, this does not scare me. With a freshly pulled cork, this wine uses the old cloak and dagger approach in expressing itself; closed, and not very robust, the fruit seems to be hiding behind a facade of meats and wood. Beefy jerky and wet leaves come to mind. Then with time, and a few good swirls in the glass, the true character of this wine explodes. Fig Newton, black olives and toasted walnuts surround deep fruits of blackcurrant, and plum. The toasted oak rides the structure of chalky tannins and light acidity. This wine finishes a little hot, but hey, that’s what California cab is supposed to do when it wants to ruffle some feathers. Other Secret Sommeliers may suggest the typical steak with this cab, I say step out on a limb a bit; try lamb, or a good old fashioned slice of combination pizza would really go best.”
As you can see, Agent Cuvee is fitting right in…
as reported by Agent Red
My last trip to California’s Central Coast was mostly a nightmare. The heat almost killed me (not really) and I was miserable. This trip down was different.
On this mission we were taking the Spy Plane, a single engine Cessna that we affectionately call Air Wine Spy. Cleared for take-off we taxied out to the runway and were wheels-up and climbing to our cruising altitude of 10,000 feet. It was a brilliantly clear day and the flight was smooth and uneventful.
As we approached the Central Coast area, we turned on our new Wine Spies wine-seeking radar system, FLaVOR (Forward Looking Vine Origination Radar). The FLaVOR system was developed by Wine Spies scientists to assist in the surveillance of wineries and wines. I switched the system on and, after a rapid calibration, set it to search out wine grapes with a quality coefficient of 3 or higher. Almost immediately I got a reading and I directed Agent White to overfly the hotspot on the scope.
After a cross-comparison with the GPS coordinates, we verified that we were circling Vihuela Vineyards in Templeton. Vihuela is one of the wineries on my Alert Board, which means that they are under long-term surveillance. In this case because we suspected that the wineries owner, Mike Vihuela, was presumed to be using a false name.
I had White set the plane down on a deserted back road and we hiked cross-country toward the vineyards. I suggested that we pose as Eastern European backpackers, lost in the Central Coast wilds, but we decided against it when Agent White pointed out that the Central Coast wasn’t all that wild. White suggested that we claim that our plane had crashed, but I said that we were looked far too good for that cover to be believed. We pressed onward, bickering as we trudged through fields and vineyards – when suddenly we heard music. We stopped and looked ahead, along the path we had been following. There, before us, loomed a figure clad in black, a guitar strapped to his back. I recognized him instantly. It was Mike Vihuela.
We have been unable to determine the exact origins of Vihuela, but intelligence gathered during past reconnaissance suggest that he was born on a small island off the coast of Spain. It is rumored that his family had an olive farm and that at a very early age Mike Vihuela became enamored with flamenco guitar and would practice for hours on end. This is consistent with the name Vihuela as it refers to a Spanish Renaissance guitar. It also helps to explain the style of Mike Vihuela’s wines. Ladies, who swoon over the man and his wines, are said to declare that both are tall, dark and tasty.
Mike beamed at us, seeming to know who we were but not letting on. This was unsettling to us as our cover as Wine Spies are seldom compromised. He invited us to follow him to his winery, where lunch was just being served. Hungry and curious, we accepted. As we walked closer to the winery, the sound of music and children playing among the grapes rang out. An exotic looking woman greeted us with a nod, smiling silently and motioning us to sit down at the long table under the massive oak.
Mike asked us what sort of wine we liked and we said, "Your best Cab!” He poured, and we talked wine and winemaking. And we ate and drank. And drank some more. His Vihuela Reserve Cab was marvelous but this man would not let slip with any useful information about his real identity. Resigned to the fact that we would not learn more about this man on this visit, we focused on our original mission; After a few hours of sampling, it was clear to me that we had found our masterpiece Cabernet Sauvignon!
Oh, and, poor Agent White! Because he would be piloting us back to Central Command, his drinking was limited to lemonade. I had the tough job of sampling this amazing Cabernet Sauvignon
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The Vihuela Winery can be seen in this satellite photo
What the winery says
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About This Wine:
The one you have been waiting for, or at least Matt. This Bordeaux-style wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. Vihuela’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon exhibits a fragrant nose with notes of fig, a bright body balanced against earthy minerality and a strong finish making it a great steak wine. This wine should age exceptionally well.
About Vihuela Winery:
In the mid eighties Matt and his wife would travel to the Central Coast to enjoy the rolling hills, the friendly laid-back attitude and of course…the wines. Through the years Matt developed a greater thirst for the Central Coast and it’s wines than any weekend trip could quench.
Matt eventually enrolled into Fresno State’s Enology program to learn hands-on the science of winemaking. The next thing he knew he had graduated and was working for the likes of Geyser Peak and Rudd in Napa Valley. After several years of saving and searching for just the right location,a vineyard property was found in Templeton, California.
Enter Mike, aka Mike Vihuela. A vihuela can be roughly translated as a Spanish Renaissance Guitar. In addition to big red wines, Mike has always had a fascination with Spanish music. Rumor has it that that Mike was raised on a small olive farm off the coast of Spain and at a very early age became enamored with flamenco guitar, practicing for hours on end.
Something about the Spanish guitar stirs the passions much as a spicy Tempranillo or a complex Cabernet Sauvignon. Vihuela Winery currently focuses on Bordeaux style wines and it is said that “ladies swoon over the man and his wines, declaring that both are tall, dark and tasty.”