2016 Carlson Cabernet Sauvignon Santa Barbara County, California

I was surprised by the paucity of professional reviews of this outstanding Cabernet Sauvignon. This one, from a professional employed by an online retailer, seems more or less right on: “As I sit and taste this wine, the first thing that comes to me is the dark crimson color. This to me indicates richness and good things to follow. As I smell the wine, I get eucalyptus, mint and sage. Dark black maraschino cherries and boysenberries round out the fruit flavors. The palate is richly textured but there is a fine under layer of fine chalky tannins and integrated oak. The palate is richly textured and has lots of body. This wine will go with a variety of foods, grilled meats, rich pasta dishes, stews, wild game. So many possibilities.”

Another review, this one published by Vivino (my source for the juice): “Normally $30+, this under-the-radar gem from Santa Barbara is ‘daily drinker’ priced! Wow! You just don’t see Cabernet anywhere in this price range, at least not anywhere this GOOD! . . . Chuck Carlson has been making Cabernet (and a lot of other varietals) since 1981 at Zaca Mesa Winery, Firestone, and Curtis Winery in the Santa Barbara area. Carlson, of course, is his own brand, and man does it overdeliver! From a beautiful, south-facing hillside vineyard, night harvested, and aged in French oak for 25 months, this gets the white-glove treatment and is simply unheard of at this price level. Pop the cork as soon as it hits your desk or porch, and see what we mean. Black currant, graphite pencil, cool blue fruits, grilled herbs, pink peppercorn, and cedar nuances that all add up to be one of the great Cabernet values that we’ve ever offered on Invino! Load up!”

Notice that the two reviews don’t seem to dealing with the same wine: The writers don’t taste the same things at all. All of which leads me to say, for the hundredth time, Why pay $150 for a bottle of wine to experience nuances that may go unrecognized by your own palate? This does not at all mean a steady diet of Thunderbird (“What’s the price? Sixty [cents] twice!”) for the rest of your life. You can still get great wine cheap. If you can’t find Carlson at www.wine-searcher.com, try Google.

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