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Value Alert: 2009 Honig Napa Valley Cabernet

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The latest issue of Wine Spectator arrived today and, like the arrival of pumpkin flavored treats, their Napa Cabernet tasting report is a sure sign of autumn. There's some surprises in the issue for sure but keeping it high level 2009 is hailed as the fourth Napa Cab vintage in a row rated 95+ points.

If you're a regular reader of the WWP you know Pinot Noir coverage has outpaced other varietals around here lately. That's because, for me, California Pinot Noir is incredibly delicious and pairs well with 90% of the meals we enjoy.

But with the weather turning cooler, I reached into our stash and pulled a couple of nicer bottles of Napa Valley Cabernet recently. The first was a 2006 Lewis Napa Cabernet. Tremendous stuff. It really set me off on a mission to find more wines like it that didn't carry its hefty price tag. That wine sells for north of $80 - can we find similar for around $30?

But first, another Napa Cab that was a stunner:

2007 O'Shaughnessy Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain
14.8% Alcohol
2,900 Cases Produced (based on 2009 vintage)
$80 Release Price

Spectacular. Tasting this I had flashbacks to some of my favorite visits to Napa tasting rooms. What I thought was particularly notable about this wine was its prominent black currant preserves and cedar notes -- backed by supporting classic Napa Cab attributes. It's hard to find these characteristics at more approachable price points. Each sip made you want to come back for more. Sadly, bottles like this don't last forever. Even when they're 1.5L.

95/100 WWP: Classic

So two fantastic wines from Lewis and O'Shaughnessy. What separated them from more affordable wines were two things: Flavor profile -and- depth of flavor. Primary fruit is amply supported by more complex savory aromas and flavors. It's relatively easy to find an affordable, juicy Cali Cab. It's not easy to find one with these additional characteristics.

So where do we turn for a tremendous $30 Napa Cab? The 2007 Honig Napa has been amazingly reliable across a half dozen bottles. Every time I've opened one I've been amazed at the quality they've delivered.

And good news: The 2009 is out, Wine Spectator loves it (92 points, a Top Value), and I think it's as good as the 2007. Here are my notes on the 2009:

2009 Honig Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
14.1% Alcohol15,000 Cases Produced
$40-$45 Release Price

There's a freshness to this wine that's tremendously appealing, but it's made even more compelling since it's paired with earthiness and supporting complexity that's hard to find at this price point. Black currant, cassis, and cocoa power on the nose. On the palate it's light on its feet initially but quickly followed up with the same notes apparent on the nose with medium weight and serious flavor. And milk chocolate. This might exceed the tremendously reliable 2007. Back up the truck if you can find it in the $30 range!

93/100 WWP: Oustanding

Read reviews on CellarTracker
Find it at retail on Wine-Searcher

Question of the day: Are you a fan of Honig Cabernet? What are some of your favor Napa Cabs you can find for $30 or less at retail?

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