4 CA Cabs For Cab Day: So Mountain, Eberle, Flora Springs, Geyser Peak

Some people make fun of these “made up” wine days like Cabernet Day which this year is Thursday August 29, 2019.

And yes it is “made up” — Rick Bakas “made up” both Cabernet Day — to be held n the Thursday before Labor Day– and Chardonnay Day — to be held on the Thursday before Memorial Day.

But I think it’s fun to focus on a wine — and I figure why not?

#CabernetDay is a global celebration of the Cabernet grape, intended to give Cabernet lovers around the world a fun opportunity to express their passion for the grape. Cabernet lovers come together in person and online to discover and share everything about Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet-based blends.

This year for Cabernet Day, I decided to do four wines from California — two from Paso Robles and two from northern California, because for the World Wine Tasting Championships, California has four regions: Southern, Coastal, Valley, and Northern and I wondered about the differences and what distinguishes them. One of the wines from the US Wine Tasting Championships from a Cab from Napa — and we got it right!

I first tasted these four cabernet sauvignon wines with Gretel Compton and Bruce Freeman at South Mountain Winery during a lunch break between picking and processing Pinot Noir from the Rincon Vineyard located on the county line between Santa Barbara and Ventura. We paired the wines with prosciutto and brie sandwiches form a French Bakery in downtown Ventura, Cono del Sur. That night, I paired the wines with a ribeye, the following night with a chicken roasted on the grill, and finally with turkey meatloaf. I was also curious how the wines would develop. I bounced around with the order, and decided for this article to go from oldest to youngest.

2014 Geyser Peak Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley Sonoma County “Walking Tree” SRP $30
Sample for my review 

Geyser Peak was founded in 1880 making it one of California’s oldest wineries. The wine gets its name for an oak that went for a walk– upright– down a steep grade and lived to tell the tale!

Color: Dark, deep purple, dense with a brick ring.

Nose: Cherry, vanilla, cola, oak.

Palate: Cassis, cherry, Dr. Pepper, oak, mocha, black currant tea. Lots of fruit but dry. Velvety texture.

Pairing: With the sandwiches at lunch, the oak was overpowering. The steak handled the oak well, but the chicken did not.  By the third day, the wine had mellowed and integrated, and worked with the turkey meatloaf such that I could see it going with beef ribs– and it just might go with BBQ sauce!

If you are a fan of oak you will love this wine!

TEST: Would I know that this wine was for Northern California? Yes I think I would. I had just had another wine from the Alexander Valley and there’s a richness and a texture to these wines that’s distinct from Napa and definitely different from the wines from Paso Robles but I am struggling to define it beyond that.

2015 Flora Springs Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley SRP $50
Sample for my review consideration.

I’ve written about Flora Springs a few times now– they are a historic “ghost” winery and they make fun but seriously excellent wines for Halloween and Christmas. Their Trilogy is a fabulous wine for the holidays as well.

And no surprise, Flora Springs is ready to join in the Cabernet Day festivities!”After more than 38 years of winemaking and more than 30 years of crafting Trilogy – our flagship Cabernet-based red blend – Flora Springs is still breaking new ground,” they say on their website. “We credit the consistent organic and sustainable farming practices of our vineyard team as well as the focus and direction of our winemaker, Paul Steinauer.”

How to participate:

  • Order your favorite Flora Springs Cabernets, watch your inbox for a special #CabernetDay WOW!
  • Join us online August 29th. We’ll be talking about Cabernet and Cab blends all day, then the conversation really picks up at 5:30 pm Pacific time.
  • Follow us on your favorite social site: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or Pinterest.
  • Enter to win: Tweet or Instagram with us on August 29th using hashtag #CabernetDay and @florasprings in your tweets/posts.
  • We will pick one lucky Flora Springs fan using #CabernetDay and tagging us in their tweet or Instagram post! You could win a Flora Springs prize pack. Must be 21+ to enter. Void where prohibited. Wine will not be included in prize pack. Chance of winning depends on number of entries.

According to the Flora Springs website, The “2016 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon combines fruit from Flora Springs’ sustainably-farmed estate vineyards in St. Helena, Rutherford and Oakville. The hand harvested grapes were cold-soaked for several days to extract flavor and color prior to fermentation. Several lots underwent extended maceration to refine and soften the tannins, and all lots were aged in a combination of French (79%) and American (21%) oak barrels for 19 months prior to blending.”

This is a rich and satisfying Cabernet with warm flavors of blackberry compote, cassis, vanilla crème and mocha. A hint of wild chaparral is noticeable after several sips along with notes of sweet oak and espresso. The warm tones and juicy tannins give an overall impression of softness, but the wine is backed with a refreshing acidity that promises aging well into the next decade. This Cabernet would make a wonderful companion for

They suggest pairing it with “rare-cooked meats, classic cheese fondue, rosemary-braised lamb shanks, or beef carpaccio with wild arugula.”

Color: Deep maroon with mauve notes.

Nose: Cherry, blackberry, vanilla, eucalyptus.

Palate: Dark stone fruit, bramble fruit, cocoa, vanilla, mint on the lengthy finish. Well balanced between fruit and oak. Easy to enjoy today with or without food, and if you lay it down it will be fabulous in a few years. Over time, more of the herbal and cocoa and mocha elements came forward as the cherry faded a bit. The wine has a pleasant power and intensity, with a grippy texture.

Pairing: I was surprised that this went so well with all three meals. This would be a great wine to bring to a gathering when you’re not sure what will be served.

TEST: Yes I think I would guess this wine was from northern California– something about the power and the texture.

Look for more about Flora Springs during California Wine Month!

2016 Eberle Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Paso Robles SRP $45
Sample for my review consideration.

I discovered Eberle many years ago when I attended a party and campout down the road. I was so enthused with the wines I tasted the day after the party that I joined the wine club. I travel often along the 101 corridor between Ventura and the Bay Area and I loved stopping there mid-trip to taste and buy wine– and use the bathroom! I’d also buy their duck sausage whenever it was in stock.

One of the reasons I joined the Eberle Wine Club is value — I came away impressed with how great the wines were for the price point, and in the tasting room they often had closeouts and other deals!

I’ll be writing more about Eberle for California Wine Month but for now know that Eberle is named after Gary Eberle, Football star, and that the boar on the label refers not just to the pigskin that he played with but to his name which in German means small boar.

These grapes are grown on what’s known as the “east side” — which refers to the east side of the 101 which is flatter and further from the ocean than the west side.

Color: Dark, dense, maroon with a brick rim.

Nose: Cherry, mint, florals including rose and violets.

Palate: Lots of juicy fruit but balanced with plenty of tangy acidity and spice. This is a zinfandel lover’s cabernet. The finish has an exotic meaty, mocha quality with a chocolate mint finish.

Pairing: So good with the steak, but also worked really well with the chicken and loved the BBQ sauce on the meatloaf.

TEST: California cabs are much denser and darker in color than cabs from other places, but the wines from Paso are super fruity, and full of cherry.

2018 South Mountain Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Paso Robles SRP $30 (estimate)
Barrel sample for my review consideration.

A week before Caroline Henry spoke at The Cave in Ventura, Bruce Freeman and Gretel Compton shared their wines made at their South Mountain Winery above Santa  Paula, CA. One of the wines they brought was a barrel sample of their Cabernet sauvignon sourced from the west side of Paso Robles.  Bruce also attended Caroline’s event and some of the others attended both events– and they couldn;t stop talking about the cabernet! Which got me thinking that it would be fun to focus on Cali cabs for Cabernet Day– and that’s how I ended up bringing three to the winery the other day to taste alongside their Paso cab.

There are two very distinct differences between this wine and the three others: one, this wine is from 2018 and still in the barrel, and two, this wine has been aged in neutral oak barrels which lets the beautiful fruit shine through. Because it’s not in the bottle yet, they gave me a small flask of it to take with me.

Color: Bright bright saphire  red, full of life and light.

Nose: Heavenly. More specifics? A heavenly garden full of ripe fruit and fragrant flowers. Hedonistic. Intense. Orgiastic. ALIVE.  Perfume. Sandalwood. Plum. Earth after a rain. Chapparal — chamise, white sage, purple sage, cleveland sage.

Palate:  Mulberries right off the tree. Fresh blueberries off the shrub.  Delectable. Mineral finish– slate, clay. The texture is slick like clay. The finish goes on forever– the wine really coats the palate and then just hangs out there.

I love this wine– it’s super fun and enjoyable. My spouse — who is more of a beer drinker– loved this wine too. He does this thing with his fingers where he beckons the glass to his side of the table… that’s how I know that he really likes a wine. And yep, he kept wiggling his fingers…

Pairing: It was wonderful with the steak, the chicken, and the turkey meatloaf. I’d love to pair with salmon — and I’d be curious about it marinated in teriyaki. The bright fruit in this makes it very unusual and versatile and it could be fun trying it with different pairings.

Test: While it says Paso cab, I might be tempted to think this wine is a malbec…  

I seriously think they should just get this out there ASAP– why not do a growler program? BYOB!

Interested in California Wine? September is California Wine Month and we have a few more in store so stay tuned and subscribe!!





One thought on “4 CA Cabs For Cab Day: So Mountain, Eberle, Flora Springs, Geyser Peak

  1. All interesting, and enticing notes you’ve made on all of these wines. The nose on the South Mountain sounds spectacular. Sandalwood, plum and sage oh, my. I’d certainly take a growler fill of it just to huff 😉


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