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I admit that I have become a big fan of Sonoma Cabernets: in even half assed attempts, they can offer such nice, subtle fruits backed by mild but tangible tannic backbones, and usually at competitive prices. If I had my druthers, I would spend many a wine dollar exploring this area; but as it is, my choice is limited by both my geographic location (and state controlled liquor sales) and my budget. So when I saw this Geyser Peak offering on sale for $11, I was very happy.

The wine was good, but did not live up to my expectations (which, frankly, were probably inflated after my tasting of the marvelous $20 1997 Geyser Peak Alexander Valley Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon). The deep red, nearly purple color was pro forma for this kind of wine, but the aroma was very strongly saturated with vanillin and oaky scents--pleasant in and of themselves, but presaging a somewhat unbalanced taste. And so it was, to a degree: the oak overwhelmed the gentle cherry flavors of the wine itself. The tannins, however, were not as firm as the oaky smell may have suggested. This was a mixed blessing--too much would have really thrown the wine off, but a little more backbone might have helped it go better with the meal.

But, as is the point I keep on coming back to, for $11 I still think it represented a pretty good value in California Cabernet. I can't make an unreserved recommendation, but perhaps the wine will be more to your taste than mine.

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