Two California Cabs: Valley of the Moon and Beaulieu Vineyard Napa

Beaulieu V ValleyoftheMoonCab

At our last trip to the wine superstore, we picked up two California Cabs, one from Sonoma and one from Napa. Since we can’t decide which one to open, we’ll taste them both for a side by side comparison.

The $18 Valley of the Moon 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon is from a Sonoma winery estate dating back to the mid-19th century and currently run by the Stewart family. Director of Winemaking, David Marchesi, has acquired a wide range of experience beginning in nearby Napa Valley, spanning across the world to McLaren Vale, Australia, and encompassing several prestigious California wineries.

The $22 Beaulieu Vineyard Napa Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 is from the Rutherford winery founded by Georges de Latour in 1900. De Latour, along with famed viticulturist and enologist André Tchelistcheff, instituted innovations in fermentation, aging, and marketing, as well as importing Phylloxera-resistant rootstock from Europe. By establishing a strong relationship with the Catholic Church, BV was the only Napa Valley winery able to remain in business throughout prohibition.

Valley of the Moon opens up right away with a generous nose of ripe fruit and earthy notes. On the palate are juicy plum, currants, and herbs with a hint of graphite. The long finish is where vanilla and pepper appear. This Cab is well-balanced with mellow tannins and oak giving it some complexity.

By comparison, the nose of the BV is less fruit forward, introducing the aroma of vanilla front and center. The fruit aromas that start out light on the nose change to big and juicy on the palate where cherry and blackberry emerge. The finish is shorter than Valley of the Moon, but still decent. Our tasting impression is solid overall, but lacking a “wow” factor. “Rutherford Dust” wasn’t apparent at this level; maybe it’s saved for the Private Reserve.

Sorry to BV, but we enjoyed Valley of the Moon a bit more. I followed up with some price checking online and noticed that BV sometimes sells in the big box stores in the $10-$15 range. It would be a steal at that price.

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