Dr. Debs discussed the identify theft of wines here highlighting the tastes of three wines not matching the characteristics of varietals indicated. Although the wines discussed in that post were all imperfect, at least they were enjoyable. However, what about wines ‘lacking character', wines that taste like a solution mixture of grape concentrate and flavor enhancers with alcohol injected that make you say ‘blah’? I am sure many of you have encountered such wines in the past.
This is precisely the case of the 2004 Excelsior Cabernet Sauvignon. While it is a drinkable plonk, it is nowhere close to a Cabernet Sauvignon that can clearly identify its character in a blind tasting.
ABV: 14.5%; Price $7-$10 (readily available nationwide)
Color: Dark garnet, almost blackish.
Nose: Initial smell of disinfectant from a hospital. Fruit is quite muted. As wine opens, aroma is dominated by raisin with notes of burnt tobacco.
Palate: Fairly one dimensional, dominated by extracted black currant flavor. Mild tannins emerged after 15 minutes in the glass. Very low acidity, not much structure and quite alcoholic.
Body: Medium to full, soft but quite creamy.
Finish: Short with black fruit as primary flavor.
I have tasted the Paddock Shiraz from the same producer and thought it has a good QPR value. At this price point, there are wines of much better quality and more precise varietal characteristics than the '04 Excelsior Cabernet Sauvignon out there.
Many factors contribute to a wine's character. The grapes of this Cab is source from the Breede River Valley appellation (as in the Shiraz). Why does the Shiraz smell/taste better than the Cab? Is it due to the ripeness of the fruit... Is it because the Cab has higher residual sugar / lower acid content? (Shiraz: RS 2.6 g/l, Acid 5.9 g/l; Cab: RS 3.9. Acid 5.5 g/l)... Is it related to different winemaking techniques? Or is this wine plainly not up to par?