Red Hills- the Next Cabernet Frontier: Nov/Dec 2018

by Ann Coppinger

Obsidian Ridge Estate Cabernet 2016- $29.99

I lined up dozens of Cabernets to taste for this holiday’s featured wine. After all the uproar about Napa and Sonoma’s 2015 vintage, I assumed I’d be writing about one of those. This 2016 Cabernet from Red Hills Lake County knocked my socks off, was clearly the best of the bunch; and was less expensive!

This wine was clearly under my radar, so my research began. This vineyard was planted in 1999 by owners Michael Terrien, and Peter and Arped Molnar. They were told nothing would grow in that unforgiving environment. Obsidian Ridge is on the farthest north part of the Mayacamas Mountain Range, 2950 feet above sea level in volcanic soil and rocks, overlooking a dormant volcano.

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You’ll notice right away the dark color of this wine. That is due to the Pacific winds, mountain sun, and cold, rocky conditions caused the grapes to protect their seed by making exceptionally thicker skins.

Winemaker Alex Beloz made this beauty using 95% Cabernet, 4% Petit Verdot and 1% Malbec from the steepest slopes of the vineyard. The wine was aged 16 months in Quercus Petraea Hungarian oak from a cooperage in Kadar, Hungary that the trio have owned for three decades.

From the minute you pour Obsidian in the glass it stands out; intensly deep colored, with jammy, spicy aromatics. In the mouth, it is not only full-bodied but has a rich mouthfeel that expands into black cherries and chocolate creating dense, voluptuous fruit in the mid-palate. The tannins wrap around the fruit perfectly, hinting at aging potential.

Apparently Robert Parker has been a fan of this winery since 2013, giving it ratings in the mid-90’s every year. This 2016 vintage has already received a “92” from Wilfred Wong. I am positive this winery will not be so inexpensive in the coming years. For the collector; this 2016 will age, for the drinker; this is delicious right out of the gate and the next day, don’t miss this find!