Great last-minute gift ideas from killer Cabernets to the best wine event on either coast!


Well, Christmas is just about here, and if you haven't bought your wine loving friend a gift yet you might be searching for ideas! I have a few that you can buy on-line, and some last minute California Cabernet recommendations from last night's Snooth Blind Tasting!

First off, if you have to send someone a wine related gift why not get them tickets to one of the upcoming wine events. Here's one for each coast.

East Coast

First up is the 2009 Sun Wine Fest at Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut. Easily accessible from both Boston and New York this is a great event for wine lover and novice alike.

It takes place the weekend of January 17 and 18 and features a great selection of informative seminars. There is also the Celebrity Chef dine around tasting event, a benefit for the American Liver Foundation, which features such American Culinary luminaries as Jasper White and Todd English whipping up some of their trademark dishes to be perfectly paired with great wines.

And of course there is the Grand Tasting, featuring a huge number of great wineries pouring their latest and greatest releases. And if one tires of the wine scene, you are at Mohegan Sun, where there's an almost endless array of activities, the Casino, the spa, and great live music. A weekend at Wine Fest - What a great gift!

West Coast

Looking for something on the west coast? ZAP it in San Francisco, January 28 -31! ZAP is the worlds greatest Zinfandel Festival, that great almost American grape that makes some of the most compelling wines to come from the West Coast at prices that are within the reach of everyone.

Over the course of five days there are some great events, ranging from blending experiments, food pairing seminars and Dinner with the Winemakers, to the Grand Tasting, which will feature an estimated 270 wineries! It is the tasting of the year for your Zinfandel loving friends and once you are there you can take in the sights and dining adventures that make San Francisco one of America's greatest cities!

California Cabernet Blind Tasting Results

Now if you still have time to go shopping here are the best California Cabernets from last night's blind tasting with my impressions here.

2005 Pedroncelli Three Vineyards Dry Creek Valley Cab
The 2005 Pedroncelli Three Vineyards Dry Creek Valley Cab was a huge success and at half the price of most of the other wines in the line-up it really offered compelling value. It's subtle yet complex with a gentle balanced character that doesn't blow you away like many wines did but keeps you coming back for sip after sip. Is Pedroncelli the greatest producer of value wines in California? They certainly are vying for the top spot and if you can't find the 2005, well the 2004 may even be better!

2005 Bennett Lane Maximus Feasting Red
Now the 2005 Bennett Lane Maximus Feasting Red is actually a blend that combines a bit of Syrah and Merlot with Cabernet. It's a Meritage that works. There is plenty of bold fruit here in a silky style that is wonderfully fresh and yet has the depth and spice of a bigger wine. Feasting wine indeed! Break this out for your crowd of hungry friends and relatives!

2005 Frank Family Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet
The 2005 Frank Family Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet was outperforming its price point this evening as it delivered a thrilling experience. While this was a bit tight it offered wonderful complexity in a balanced, elegant package. It will benefit from a year or so in the cellar but is classic Napa Cabernet even today!

2004 Dry Creek Vineyards Endeavor Cabernet
Now if you are in the mood for a big powerful bold Cabernet keep you eyes peeled for the 2004 Dry Creek Vineyards Endeavor Cabernet. This has only just been released, and with fewer than 800 cases produced it's bound so to be hard to find but it is worth watching out for. Offering a brilliant combination of amazing aromatic complexity and a depth of fruit that borders on over-the-top but pulls back just in time. It is the rare California Cabernet of this size that combines incredible richness with a suppleness that belies its power. Really a great wine for today though it should cellar well for at least a decade. While I generally strive to make sure that the wines I recommend are readily available, this is just too good to keep a secret and once word gets out about it will be virtually impossible to find. It is after all better to give than to receive so in the holiday spirit consider this an insider's tip!

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