2011 Justin Cabernet Sauvignon

Cab.  If you ask a Californian to describe the smell and taste of red wine, Cabernet Sauvignon is the profile their mind uses as a rubric.  That isn’t entirely a bad thing.  Cabernet Sauvignon is tasty and there is a LOT of it produced in California.  I decided to pull one off the rack tonight because I am having some ravioli and red sauce.  I know this isn’t the perfect wine pairing for this meal, but, as it turns out, giving a shit is NOT on the menu tonight.  The fact of the matter is that you can drink whatever kind of wine you enjoy with whatever food you enjoy.  You may not technically be getting the most out of it, but enjoying yourself is what fine food/wine is all about.  That said, I did want a wine with a bit bigger body that could stand up to the red sauce and not get lost.

Justin Vineyards is out of the Paso Robles area of California.  Paso has a great combination of having really nice warm days but still being close enough to the coast to have the grapes get cooled down in the afternoons/evenings.  Consequently, they are able to produce some varietals, like this cab, that are everything a cab should be while still being distinct to some of the warmer northern California growing regions.


Justin has taken off like a rocket in the last few years.  They have increased production every year and apparently this year will be doubling their production due to the new facility they built.  This means you can pick up a bottle from them almost anywhere.

This bottle has a lot of great flavor and complexity.  Dark cherry, and intense fruit flavor bounce perfectly off of the leathery, oily flavors.  If the last part of that sentence scares you, have no fear.  This wine is certainly a cabernet sauvignon that is heavy on fruit.  Leather, tobacco, and smoke are all descriptions that can scare off a lot of people new to wine.  You may not think you like the flavor of leather, but trust me, once you have it in the right context you will.  It’s like kissing.  The thought of someone else’s tongue in your mouth, in theory, sounds awful.  Then you try it and great Odin’s raven it’s so good!

Truth be told, this is actually the first bottle I have tried from Justin.  I have heard a lot about them and people really seem to like them.  This wine didn’t disappoint at all, but I feel like the price was off.  I paid about 25 bucks for this bottle, which I think is too much for this wine.  $19 and I am with you all the way.  Please don’t misunderstand, this is a good bottle that I am really enjoying drinking, but it isn’t really knocking my socks off.  Cab in California is a competitive market, even at this price point.  If you are more in the $10-15 range you run into wines that have that sharp alcohol bite or that green chile smell of immature fruit.  The extra money definitely will buy you out of problems like that.  But, I feel like there are great wines from places that aren’t available in every Safeway for the same price as this.  I guess the lesson learned here is, buy local.  I realize a lot of people don’t live in an area where they have the option to visit local wineries but I still feel that you can seek out better wines than this for the same price.

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