Rutherford Hill Cabernet Sauvignon

Wine: Rutherford Hill Cabernet Sauvignon.

Grapes: Cabernet sauvignon (85 percent), merlot (8 percent), cabernet franc (5 percent), syrah (2 percent)

Region: Napa Valley, Calif.

Vintage: 2003

Price: $11.99

In the glass: Rutherford Hill Cabernet Sauvignon is a deep ruby-red color with a semi-opaque core going out into a fine crimson-red rim definition with medium-high viscosity.

On the nose: There is a plethora of dark fruits upfront with marionberry, boysenberry, cassis and red currant crush, then fruit-driven minerals, melted milk chocolate and kirsch underlying.

On the palate: It is a lovely mouth-filling wine, full of crushed berry fruit with black currant juice, red fruit soup and boysenberry sorbet at first, then decently concentrated black cherry-type fruit through the midpalate, which also shows a kick of supple tannins and hints of oak. The finish is nicely balanced, and this is clearly a good drinking wine.

Odds and ends: From one of the venerable wineries in one of the top three appellations in Napa Valley, comes this well-crafted cabernet sauvignon. The 2003 vintage was controversial in California, but most of the cabernet sauvignon made in Napa Valley was top-notch quality, so this wine is really starting to come into its own. In the past decade, there has been a resurgence in the quality of wines coming from Rutherford Hill, and this 2003 cabernet that usually sells for $30 can now be had for a mere $12. It is a big wine that needs an hour to “breathe” before consumption. It should be delicious with any pasta, but particularly Alfredo. Drink it through 2015.

Gil Lempert-Schwarz’s wine column appears Wednesdays. Write him at P.O. Box 50749, Henderson, NV 89016-0749, or e-mail him at

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