Federal Wine & Spirits

29 State Street, Boston, MA 02109

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The Wines of This Week's Tasting:

Cabernet + friends
February 15, 2023



Cabernet & Friends


2020 Aslina Cabernet Sauvignon;

South Africa Poised and Suave

Ntsike Biyela left Zululand for a career in the Stellenbosch winelands of South Africa. After several years of apprenticeship, she began her own label named after her mother, Aslina. Her Cabernet is in an unexpectedly sleek and poised style, as finely wrought as Bordeaux. One of the most elegant wines we have seen from that area.

Aroma: heady with the cedary side of cabernet higher toned and suave, a touch of menthol, hauntingly sketched currant, notes; Mouth: sweet, pure and clean, rich but not overbearing, carries its weight gracefully, fine-grained tannins on the finish; Very Good Plus $29.99; Case, $25.49


2019 El Enemigo Cabernet Franc

A Christmas Spice Cake from Mendoza

Argentina is known for its malbecs. Some of its finest wines are made from Cabernet Franc. Franc is highly aromatic and can be harder and leaner than Cabernet Sauvignon. El Enemigo is decidedly not. Rich but not lush, it has a joyous panoply of fruits and spices rarely seen in Cabernet Franc

Aroma: heady and sweet, very intense, full fat, nutmeg-accented Christmas fruit cake, with rich currant and plum; Mouth: unctuous, very ripe and forward, offset by nice angular note, starts high, finishes low, with fine tannins, long; Very Good - Excellent $29.99; Case, $25.49


2019 Obsidian Cabernet Sauvignon

You Won't Believe It's not Napa

Insiders know that Lake County can make some Cabs equal to Napa, its southern neighbor. Obsidian is one of the best of these and the best value. It has all of Napa's savory richness and lush texture but without the price. Obsidian is the stone in its vineyards, providing a nice counterpoint to its richness.

Color: very dark black, purple edge; Aroma: thick and heady, very full, aromatic, very light mint, plummy and rich; Mouth: currant and bright chocolate, creamy texture clean, racy firm Very Good - Excellent $40; Case, $34


Bordeaux Blends

From Two Napa Masters

Cain Cuvee NV 17

            Chris Howell has been making wines in Cain's high-elevation Spring Mountain vineyards for 30 years. He has perhaps the most burgundian in the sensibility of California Cabernet wine producers. The winery was lost to fire two years ago, but many of the wines survived at a separate location. The Cuvee 17 is two-thirds estate fruit, rounded out with some from the valley floor. Merlot leads in this one and gives it richness, a blend of roughly equal parts of the delicate 2016 and robust 2017 vintages. It's light on its feet with a strong herbal and floral character. 

Aroma: Light and fruity, nicely intense, very pretty; Mouth: Light, clean, a bit of angularity firm, fine tannins on a ripe and long sweet finish; Very Good - Excellent $40; Case, $34


2018 Ramey Claret

David Ramey has graced the cover of the Wine Spectator more often than Pamela Andersen has appeared on Playboy, a tribute, in his case, to talent and expertise. His Bordelais blend is lusher, predominantly cabernet, with the other four grapes of Bordeaux and a dollop of Syrah. It has a subtle herbaceousness and a luscious, cushioned mouthfeel

2018 Ramey Claret; Aroma: soft heady herbal, very intense mild heady spice, intriguing soft spice; Mouth: smooth spicy and clean, fine tannin, very long, nicely modulated; Very Good - Excellent $48; Case, $41


2016 Ramey Cabernet Sauvignon

Quintessential Napa 

In an era when the big names in Napa cabernets are going to three-figure prices, David has still offered one just as good at a far more reasonable price. It is one of our favorites, full-bodied, dense, and long 

Aroma: very heady, pencil lead with a fillip of sweet earth, heavy & and full; Mouth: bright, clean, very rich, nice contrast between brightness and low tones, smooth and long; Excellent $59; Case, $50


Cabernet Case: Special, two each of the above wines - $421

Cabernet Pack: Special, one each of the above wines - $223

Or mix your own case; any 12 bottles at their case prices


Order by phone at 617.367.8605, or reserve here: order@federalwine.com


Please pass this on to any friends who are wine enthusiasts!


           - Len Rothenberg




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