Federal Wine & Spirits

29 State Street, Boston, MA 02109

Read about the wines in this tasting

Read our notes

Cabernet and a Friend

Each of the seven cabernets that we tasted last week had its fans.
October 11, 2023


Len writes,

Each of the seven cabernets that we tasted last week had its fans.


That said, two were the most palate-friendly and most generally popular. The richer, fuller Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon showed great depth of fruit round and was complete in the best Napa style. The slightly lighter but more elegant Trefethen Cabernet showed a smoother poise with more pronounced cedar notes. Both of those were friendly and immediately enjoyable.


Obsidian Cabernet has been a mainstay of the store as a lower-priced substitute for neighboring ones from neighboring Cabernet Napa Valley. The newly-released 2021 was still a bit tight at the beginning of the tasting, even though we had opened it in advance. Throughout the tasting, it grew and fleshed out into many people’s favorite , for both price and pleasure.


Merlot was more controversial. Most loved the rich, elegant, composed, and mature Cain Cuvee 13. With ten years in the bottle, it had begun to display the hallmarks of an almost French maturity and drank much like the more expensive St. Emilion from a nicely ripe vintage. A minority of contrarian Sideways-style Merlot reactionaries were vocal in their dissent. (Speaking of movies, don't miss tomorrow's email about Federal's newly-minted Tinseltown star.)


Silver Oak fans liked the Blue Rock Cabernet. From a neighboring Alexander Valley vineyard, it behaved like a softer, more sedate version of that line, less raucous and more comfortable.


The Raphael Cabernet was powerful, elegant, and precise, with vivid black currant flavors and good structure. Napa Cabernet purists love the wine. It can be drunk now with breathing, but we'll age for another decade.


One more Cabernet showed very, very well. But that is yet to be revealed and will, we hope, be the subject of another email.


2021 Obsidian Cabernet Sauvignon (Lake); Color: lean black currant; Aroma: very bright, clean herbal, higher toned; Mouth: clean, reserved, bright acid, a bit tight to start, with rich fruit poking through, rich fruit, firm fine tannins, long, to be decanted; Very Good Plus – Excellent with air or age $40; Case, $34


Cain Cuvee 13 (Napa); Aroma: Very sweet, very rich creamily intense; Mouth: Light clean, rich again, full and concentrated, fine acid, very ripe and full, a touch of tight in the back, floral; Very Good - Excellent $54; Case, $45.9


2018 Blue Rock Cabernet Sauvignon (Alexander); Aroma: fresh and heady, very full, some depth nicely herbaceous, bright firm; Mouth: clean, light new, very pretty, refined acid, clean, firm, herbal, very nice balance, a taste complexity; Very Good - Excellent $60; Case, $52


2019 Trefethen Cabernet Sauvignon (Oak Knoll); Color: very dark, opaque; Aroma: sweet and forward rather intense cherry-berry, a touch of Napa dust on the end; Mouth: smooth rounded ahead, herbal, clean, very fine articulation, medium body long classic Napa finish; Very Good - Excellent $64; Case, $54


2019 Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa); Color: very dark; Aroma: bright, sweet intense, heady, bright intense, reserved, herbal, nicely rounded, soft and mellow; Mouth: clean, firm, smooth, f, medium-bodied with a bright firm, pleasing astringency; Very Good - Excellent $69; Case, $59


2019 Rafael Cabernet Sauvignon (Oak Knoll); Mouth: smooth, clean rather fine bright acid firm, fine acid, very finely delineated, precise; Excellent $75; Case, $64


Mix any twelve or more bottles at their case prices


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           - Len Rothenberg



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