But when prices were revealed, no one visibly squirmed. The cheapest cabernet we tasted was $33, from Stelzner Vineyards, and the most expensive was Shafer Hillside Select at $85. Definitely splurge wines from where I was sitting, but seemingly everyday to this crowd. Somehow, I wish I could one day gorge on wines of that price level, but now I just taste.
What follows are my tasting notes from my past few splurge explorations, so when your birthday hits, you can be prepared for the ego cushion these can provide.
Stelzner 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon Stag's Leap Smells like soaked blueberries steeped in strong tea, and the aroma flows through to the tongue. Black cherry, lavender and easy tannins on the finish. Sweetness = 1. $33.
Robert Sinskey 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon Stag's Leap Floral like a birthday bouquet with roses and violets. Taste is more like cherry Koolaid with balls. Bright, vibrant cherry and raspberry. Smooth tannins make this cabernet easy to enjoy. Sw = 1. $55. 1/2
Clos du Val 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon Stag's Leap Elegant dark fruit like blackberry, blueberry and cassis permeate your nose and mouth when you're enjoying this beautiful wine. A touch of leather and chocolate create intrigue. Let it air in the glass since the tight tannins can be a bit too much at first. Sw = 1. $60.
ZD 2003 Pinot Noir Carneros Like most Carneros appellation pinots, this is a great wine. Fruity with raspberry and bright cherry and a touch of earthy mud. Sw = 2. $30.
August Briggs 2002 Syrah Napa Valley Bold and gutsy, yet fragrant — like a biker wearing cologne. Blackberry and chocolate are all over this wine, which keeps on giving long after you've finished the sip. Limited availability. Sw = 1. $32. 1/2
Mer Soleil 2002 Late Harvest Viognier Oozing honeysuckle, peaches and bitter orange, this delicious dessert wine is only for the sweet at heart. This is decadence at its best… drink it with caution. Sw = 8. $36. 1/2
Stuhlmuller 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley Seductive and cool, like a black cherry pie with vanilla ice cream on it. A hint of lavender completes the romance. Sw = 1. $30.