Yesterday was World Cabernet Day, but I extend the concept to today’s “Friday Wine Sips” because I have a boodle of cabernet sauvignon wines or blends on hand. Here are 15, from 2009, ’8 and ’07, mainly from Napa Valley and Sonoma County but also an example from Lake County and two from Lodi. In fact, this column serves as a transition or segue to September, which for some reason has been designated California Wine Month. A couple of these wines I am lukewarm about — there’s even a “Not Recommended” — but 10 receive an Excellent rating. I haven’t done a “Friday Wine Sips” in two weeks, so I’ll remind My Readers that these brief, incisive, insightful reviews eschew technical data and historical, personal and geographical narrative for the sake of getting to the essence. All of these wines were samples for review.

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Mettler Family Vineyards Estate Grown Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, Lodi. 15.3% alc. With 8% petite sirah, 4% cabernet franc, 2% petit verdot. Unpalatably sweet, hot and jammy, but alternately brusquely tannic and austere; a zinfandel lollipop gone to the dark side. What were they thinking? Not recommended. About $25.
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Mettler Family Vineyards Estate Grown Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Lodi. 14.9% alc. With 8% petite sirah, 2% cabernet franc. This is better or at least a bit more under control; very dark ruby-purple hue; yes, still big, rich, fruity and jammy — European palates avoid! — very spicy, very brambly and briery, brilliantly-etched black fruit with a blueberry tart edge, a velvet fist in a velvet glove but still more granite and flint minerality and bright acidity for backbone than the rendition of 2008. Now through 2015 to ’17. Very Good. About $25.
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Hess Allomi Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Napa Valley. 14.4% alc. With 9% petite sirah. Dark ruby-purple color; makes a fetish of its deep flint-graphite, iodine-iron character that gradually yields to notes of cassis and blueberry and plums laved with smoke, lavender and licorice; a few minutes bring in potpourri, mulberry and a touch of pomegranate, all ensconced in a dense, chewy texture freighted with finely-milled tannins. Now through 2016 or ’17. Excellent. About $28.
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Obsidian Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, Red Hills, Lake County. 14.3% alc. With 3% each cabernet franc and petit verdot. Sleek and scintillating, notably clean and fresh, a powerhouse of spicy black and blue fruit scents and flavors tempered by layers of earthy, dusty graphite and plush finely-milled mineral-laced tannins dressed out with vibrant acidity; comes close to being elegant, even as it conceals a truckload of coiled energy. Definitely needs a steak. Excellent. About $30.
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Arrowood Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, Sonoma Valley. Jackson Family Wines. 15.5% alc.(!) Pure and intense, a bright arrow of granitic minerality, very tight, very concentrated, very ripe and spicy; does it really need so much toasty, vanilla-laced oak? I don’t think so. 250 cases. Very Good+. About $35.
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Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, Napa Valley. Jackson Family Wines. 14.5% alc. Cabernet sauvignon 79%, merlot 14%, petit verdot 5%, malbec 1%. Dark ruby shading to medium ruby; lovely bouquet, cedar, lead pencil, tobacco, black currants and cherries with a touch of plum; but tough as nails; here’s the iron fist, where’s the velvet glove? very spicy, a little tart, finish is boldly tannic and austere. Try maybe from 2014 through 2017 to 2020. Very Good+. About $40.
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Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, Napa Valley. 14.4% alc. Almost opaque dark ruby color; briers and brambles, cedar, thyme and leather; spiced and macerated black and blue fruit, dredged with dried spice and potpourri; buttresses of fine-meshed tannins and granitic minerality; moody and brooding, a note of tar and sweet oak; feel the power waiting to be unleashed. Try 2013 or ’14 through 2018 to ’20. Excellent. About $40.
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Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Napa Valley. 13% alc. Cabernet sauvignon 85%, merlot 13% cabernet franc 2%. Classic Napa Valley: Deep, dark and dusty, dense and chewy; packed with iron and iodine minerality; walnut shell and wheat-meal; earthy and rooty; black currants, black cherries with a high-note of black raspberry; cedar, bay leaf and sage, black olive; wonderful presence and tone; you feel the oak and tannin all over yet the wine achieves a sort of robust elegance. Now through 2017 to 2020. Excellent. About $50.
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Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, Alexander Valley, Sonoma County. 13.5% alc. Cabernet sauvignon 75%, merlot 20%, petit verdot 4% and a dab of malbec. Typically sleek and polished but admits rigorous tannins laden with granite and graphite; seductive notes of cedar and black olive, brambles and briers, lavender and licorice, black currants, spiced plums and potpourri; at the bottom a fandango of leather, truffly roots and mossy earthiness; great vinous loveliness strung on an adamant structure. Now through 2017 to ’20. Excellent. About $52.
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Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, Alexander Valley, Sonoma County. 13.5% alc. Cabernet sauvignon 77%, merlot 18%, petit verdot 5%. Dark purple hue with a bright violet-magenta rim, the color of health and vitality; deep, intense and concentrated yet eloquent and expressive; cassis and black cherries imbued with espresso and bitter chocolate, underbrush and walnut shell; a vivid streak of graphite and shale-like minerality; dense and chewy tannins coat the mouth while lip-smacking acidity cleanses the palate; a more robust Jordan Cabernet than usual. from 2013 or ’14 through 2020 to ’22. Excellent. About $52.
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Ferrari-Carano Prevail West Face 2007, Alexander Valley, Sonoma County. 14.5% alc. 61% cabernet sauvignon, 39% syrah. Dark as starless midnight; smoky, meaty and fleshy; the gratifying paradox of generosity and expressiveness married to intensity and concentration; massive amounts of black and blue fruit permeated by lavender, licorice, bitter chocolate and some of syrah’s black pepper and wet dog aspects; massive amounts of polished tannins, resonant acidity and slightly brooding earthy elements; massively wild, exotic, exciting. Through 2017 to ’19. Excellent. About $55.
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Antinori Family Estate Antica Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Napa Valley. 14% alc. Deep ruby color; classic notes of cedar and thyme, black olive, cassis and black raspberry with touches of tobacco, mocha and spiced plums; solid, supple, well-made but edges toward the wild and foresty side, though the finish is long, sleek and elegant. Now through 2017 to ’19. Very Good+. About $55.
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Grgich Hills Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, Napa Valley. 14.5% alc. With 5% petit verdot and 3% each cabernet franc and merlot. Broad, generous, intensely floral; smells and tastes like the earth with all its mineral adornments; and then the black and blue fruit scents and flavors, deep, ripe, spicy, tinged with ancho chili, cocoa powder and bitter chocolate; and taut acidity, engaging vigor; and still the dry, puckery, austere tannins that pack the finish. Drink through 2018 to ’20. Excellent. About $60.
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Grgich Hills Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Napa Valley. 14.6% alc. Dark ruby-purple, almost opaque at the center; great balance and tone for a young monumentally structured wine; deep, dense furry tannins and forthright dusty graphite-like minerality, with a scintillating touch of charcoal and bitter chocolate at the core; the fruit though practically gushes with spicy black currants and juicy blue plums, with the attendant licorice and violets and an exotic note of sandalwood. If ebony were wine … Try from 2013 or ’14 through 2020 to ’25. Excellent. About $60.
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Newton “The Puzzle” 2008, Spring Mountain District, Napa Valley. 15% alc. Merlot 42%, cabernet sauvignon 36%, cabernet franc 14%, petit verdot 6%, malbec 2%. The puzzle is why I can’t have more of this splendid evocation of hillside vineyards and courageous grapes; oh, I know! Because I can’t afford it! Boy, what a mouthful of dense, spiced and macerated cassis, mulberries and black cherries inundated by dusty granitic minerals, smooth well-oiled tannins and polished oak; halted just short of being a plush pushover by the bulwarks of a rigorous structure and slap-your-pappy acidity. Fire up the grill! Now through 2018 to ’20. Excellent. About $80.
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