California Cabernet Sauvignons in the $15-$30 category is a tough slot to fill especially if you expect the grapes to come from a premium wine growing region and also be from a small production bottling. Tough yes, but not impossible. I just discovered two terrific Cabernets, one from Paso Robles and the other from Napa Valley that fit the criteria beautifully. And because I can’t seem to settle on just one wine to write about this week, I have also included a Russian River Valley Zinfandel, an old favorite, that has started a new chapter in its long history.

End Post is produced by Adelaida Cellars who established themselves on the west side of Paso Robles in 1981. Their vineyards are at 2000 feet elevation and only 15 miles from the Pacific Ocean. The Cabernet Sauvignon for the 2009 End Post comes from their famed Viking Vineyard, which lies on ancient calcareous soils of limestone and chalk. I was blown away by the deeply concentrated, expansive fruit-it is all plump, juicy black cherry and plum fruit, teetering on the brink of too juicy but stays anchored with chewy tannins, pleasant acidity and judicious use of oak. This is an amazing value for those looking for fruit impact. The End Post Cabernet was introduced to me by a broker for whom I have great admiration and who represents some very high end/prestigious California wineries. As I was tasting the End Post and listening to him describe the vineyard, I couldn’t help but wonder to myself,“how is he going to sell any of the expensive stuff, if he’s pouring something this good at this price?” I guess not everyone is looking for a bargain like myself, but seriously this tastes far more opulent than the $17.98 price suggests. This unabashedly Cali Cab is quite the delicious drink and at under 400 cases produced, it is not likely to stay on the shelves for long.
2009 Adelaida Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon End Post Paso Robles

Red Wine; Cabernet Sauvignon; Central Coast;
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Sensorium was created by two Silicon Valley electrical engineers, Lee Ritchie and John Zasio, in 2002. They hired Lee’s son Jeff, a UC Davis alum, to be their winemaker. Sensorium’s 2007 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon comes from two vineyard sources, one in warmer Pope Valley and the other from the cooler Coombsville district. What drew me to this wine is the balance of ripe cassis and pomegranate to the silky tannins- the overall elegance, really. This Napa Cab is approachable and drinkable now, so no cellaring required. And despite the boutique production level of 189 cases, it can be purchased for under $30. This is truly a rarity these days as my experience shows that most Cabernet Sauvignons from Napa start at $50, even from large-scaled wineries. And frankly, not all of them are worth the price of admission. Sure, most of California’s greatest Cabernet Sauvignons come from the Napa Valley but being from Napa in and of itself doesn’t always equate to quality. I’m confident you’ll find much to be pleased with Sensorium’s fair-priced, elegant 2007 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon…it’s a beauty!
2007 Sensorium Cabernet Napa Valley

Red Wine; Cabernet Sauvignon; Napa;
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I was re-introduced to Limerick Lane’s Zinfandel recently and it truly felt like bumping into an old friend. Limerick Lane is a 30-acre estate that has vines dating back to 1910. The estate was purchased by the Collin’s brothers in the mid-70’s , who produced their first estate bottling of Zinfandel in 1986. Last year, right before harvest, Mike Collins sold his beloved property to Jake Bilbro, whose family runs Marietta Cellars. Apparently, Mike didn’t want to sell his estate to just anyone or even to the highest bidder. He had approached Jake in 2009, proposing the offer to sell Limerick Lane to him. Two years later Jake was finally able to arrange the finances and is now the proud owner of Limerick Lane. Though Limerick Lane’s reputation as a premium producer of Zinfandel has remained intact over the years, I think we’re going to see a new infusion of passion and enthusiasm into this estate. I’m expecting some terrific Zinfandels to be released from this new, old producer. The 2010 Limerick Lane Zinfandel is a charmer. On the nose there is blackberry patch aromas and dried late-summer grass and dustiness. On the palate, vivacious berry compote flavors linger warm and cozy and then finish with an unexpected burst of acidity. This tangy finish gives off a real savory-ness and gets the mouth juices flowing. I’d love to pair this with a Moroccan lamb tagine dappled with prunes. Yum!
2010 Limerick Lane Zinfandel Sonoma County

Red Wine; Zinfandel; Sonoma;
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“Expectation is the harbinger of disappointment”, a classic Pete-ism, that pretty much sums up my week. Each day was tightly scheduled and planned for both work and pleasure but alas my daughter fell ill with the flu and that was that; we stayed home and nothing got done (expect the laundry!). At least the dog was grateful for the company. Thankfully Sascha is on the mend, but our weekend plans have been scrapped and our post-anniversary celebration has to be put off (yet again!) for another day.Wine, yes wine, will have to be the remedy for my let-down…which reminds me of an interesting article I read recently that asked women to write in on the topic of why they drink wine. There are many, many reasons why I drink wine, but high on my list is the pleasure that a glass of fermented grape juice will inflect on my mood. So here’s to pouring your self a glass of Sensorium, End Post, Limerick Lane or other such goodie and START FEELING GOOD!Anya Balistreri