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Wine of the Week: Forefathers 2017 Lone Tree Vineyard, Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

This week's blind tasting

High-end holiday cabernet sauvignons

TOP PICK

Forefathers

2017 Lone Tree Vineyard, Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, 14.8% alcohol, $50. ????

½

This is an impressive, well-crafted cabernet with dense black fruit and a subtle streak of red raspberry running through it. It's full-bodied, and what makes it a standout is its lush fruit coupled with layered notes of herbs and spices. The Forefathers has a supple texture and a lingering finish. It's a great wine for the holidays and an absolute steal for this caliber of cab.

TASTY ALTERNATIVES

Shafer, 2015 Napa Valley Stags Leap District Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon, 15.5%, $310. ?????

: This is a drop-dead gorgeous cabernet with complex aromas and flavors. It has black cherry, raspberry and cranberry fruit coupled with anise and cracked black pepper. Impeccably balanced. Spot on.

Rodney Strong Vineyards, 2017 Reserve Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, 14.5%, $55. ????

: This is a cab with good bones and lush fruit. Aromas and flavors of plum, dried cherry and toasty oak. Firm tannins. Smart.

Ehlers Estate, 2016 “1886” Cabernet Sauvignon, 14.5%, $135. ????

½: Rich and complex, this is a classic. It has great intensity from its concentrated flavors. Weighted to black fruit, it's layered with notes of leather, clove and dark chocolate. Striking.

Spottswoode, 2016 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, 14.5%, $225. ????

½: A well-built, complex cab that has notes of blueberry, blackberry, pine and a hint of cedar. Well integrated. Stunning.

For wine lovers, holiday cheer is not packaged –– it’s bottled.

And during this month of non-stop revelry, it’s all about the splurge. That’s why this week we’re pulling out all the stops to bring you high-end holiday cabernets that are splurge-worthy. They run the gamut, from $50 to $310, but these cabs are ridiculously good across the board. They are, in a sense, the true spirit of the holidays –– a hedonistic free-for-all.

Our wine of the week winner is the Forefathers 2017 Lone Tree Vineyard, Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon at $50. It’s a striking cabernet with dense black fruit and a subtle streak of red raspberry running through it. It’s full bodied, and what makes it a standout is its lush fruit –– plum and blackberry –– coupled with layered notes of herbs and spices. The Forefathers has a supple texture and a lingering finish. It’s a great cab for the holidays and an absolute steal for this caliber of wine.

Another modestly-priced cab, considering the quality, is the Rodney Strong Vineyards, 2017 Reserve Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon at $55. It’s a cab with good bones and lush fruit, and it has aromas and flavors of plum, dried cherry and toasty oak. It won’t disappoint.

For those with greater disposable income, the highest-priced bottling in this flight is the Shafer 2015 Napa Valley Stags Leap District Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon at $310. It’s a drop-dead gorgeous cabernet with complex aromas and flavors. It has black cherry, raspberry and cranberry fruit coupled with anise and cracked black pepper. This cab’s fruit is wildly vibrant, and it has pitch-perfect balance.

The vintner behind the winning Forefathers is Nick Goldschmidt of Goldschmidt Vineyards in Healdsburg. The 57-year-old winemaker worked at Simi until 2003 and then for the global company Allied Domecq/Jim Beam until 2008. That year, the New Zealand native became self-employed, opening Goldschmidt Vineyards. A flying winemaker, Goldschmidt also produces wine in five other countries outside the United States: Chile, Argentina, Canada, New Zealand and Australia.

“Making wine all over the world makes me appreciative of all wine growing made locally,” Goldschmidt said. “I constantly strive to make sure that the wine that I make locally is the best that a local wine can be. When I travel the world consulting, I want to be sure that I’m making wine that represents that region.”

Keeping regions and appellations distinct around the world is crucial, the winemaker stressed.

“If this isn’t the case,” he said, “then there’s no point in making wine of a place.”

All five cabernets in this flight are distinct and each would make a great addition to your holiday lineup.

“I think the Forefathers is a good one for the holidays because it’s very mouth filling, very easy to drink and has spectacular complexity,” he said. “It’s just a great wine with food and low enough in alcohol to be enjoyed with it. It’s serious, for sure, but not so expensive that it will break the bank.”

You can reach Wine Writer Peg Melnik at peg.melnik@pressdemocrat.com or 707-521-5310.

This week's blind tasting

High-end holiday cabernet sauvignons

TOP PICK

Forefathers

2017 Lone Tree Vineyard, Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, 14.8% alcohol, $50. ????

½

This is an impressive, well-crafted cabernet with dense black fruit and a subtle streak of red raspberry running through it. It's full-bodied, and what makes it a standout is its lush fruit coupled with layered notes of herbs and spices. The Forefathers has a supple texture and a lingering finish. It's a great wine for the holidays and an absolute steal for this caliber of cab.

TASTY ALTERNATIVES

Shafer, 2015 Napa Valley Stags Leap District Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon, 15.5%, $310. ?????

: This is a drop-dead gorgeous cabernet with complex aromas and flavors. It has black cherry, raspberry and cranberry fruit coupled with anise and cracked black pepper. Impeccably balanced. Spot on.

Rodney Strong Vineyards, 2017 Reserve Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, 14.5%, $55. ????

: This is a cab with good bones and lush fruit. Aromas and flavors of plum, dried cherry and toasty oak. Firm tannins. Smart.

Ehlers Estate, 2016 “1886” Cabernet Sauvignon, 14.5%, $135. ????

½: Rich and complex, this is a classic. It has great intensity from its concentrated flavors. Weighted to black fruit, it's layered with notes of leather, clove and dark chocolate. Striking.

Spottswoode, 2016 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, 14.5%, $225. ????

½: A well-built, complex cab that has notes of blueberry, blackberry, pine and a hint of cedar. Well integrated. Stunning.

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