Mission Codename Rising to the occasion
We haven’t been this excited since they had 2-for-1 avocados at the supermarket. And you have NO idea how much we love a killer deal and some fresh guac. But finding a $19 Cabernet that drinks like something costing MUCH more fills us with pure, unbridled excitement.
Question… how many Livermore Valley Cabs do you own? We’ll assume it’s somewhere between zero and none. This once regarded as better than Napa, and nowadays underrated region boasts some legendary names like Mirassou, Concannon, Wente and Steven Kent. You can land some serious value vis a vis Napa here, if you look hard.
Serious value actually is an understatement as this completely obliterated ALL expectations in a profound way at our recent tasting panel. We kept going back for another taste just to reaffirm how insanely delicious it was. It all starts to make sense when you learn Occasio founder/winemaker John Kinney was inspired by the philosophy of French great, Henri Jayer, the winemaker behind arguably the greatest of all Burgundies. And it shows. He’s fanatical about every aspect - from hand harvesting and hand sorting everything for his small production wines (just 5 barrels made of this one!) to choosing the absolute best American or French oak for each wine, to micro-farming each vineyard plot to maximize its expression of terroir.
Boy, does it show. SO much to love here. It’s medium to full bodied, but not thick or syrupy, with a lovely spectrum of red and black fruits. The sweet red licorice and cherry pie blends with chocolate infused blackberry, crème de cassis (MMMM). Perfectly integrated French oak adds a nice vanilla streak and carries an uber soft and polished mouthfeel. All this complexity makes it an ideal Cab for smoked meats, dry-rubbed, slow-cooked baby back ribs, hearty vegetable stews and curries.
What we can’t believe is that the wine press has not caught up with the profoundness here, with the exception of Wine Enthusiast, with a couple of dozen 90+ scores and Editors’ Choice awards for Occasio in the recent past, while they have yet to rate this 2017. Reviews on previous vintages of this SHINE with praise, “restrained and elegant, alluring… ample structure, and a vein of minerality cradled into one delicious package… tastes lovingly hand-crafted, detailed and focused… rich and luxurious it retains ample natural acidity to buoy its way through a meal or through several years of aging.”
Frankly, out of hundreds of recent samples, we haven’t tasted ANYTHING that competes at this price.
Hope you grabbed some already as there wasn’t much made and we bought all we could. But sub-$20 Cabernet goes fast around here! If you could taste it, you would want it by the truckload.
What the Winery Says
2017 Livermore Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
- John Kinney
- 97% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Petit Verdot
- Livermore Valley
- Sachau & Ghielmetti Vineyards
- Harvest dates
- October 7 – October 17, 2017
- Brix at harvest
- 23.8 – 25.2
- Total acidity
- 0.55 g/L
- Bottling date
- August 23, 2019
- 18 months
- 50% new French oak
- 5 barrels