2002 Sobon Estate Cabernet
In the years that I’ve been enjoying fine wine, there have only been a handful of times when I could say, “This wine is perfect.” And frankly, on nearly all of those occasions, I was drinking a very expensive bottle of wine…so it came as no big surprise. But every once in a while, a magic moment occurs…when you expect the ordinary and you get the sublime. Those magic moments are rare and in fact, it’s really only happened to me one time.
While visiting our sons and their families in Maryland back in 2004, Carol went to Corridor Wine and Spirits, a wine superstore in Laurel and as she often does, she asked someone at the store if they could recommend “a real find.” The gentleman came up with a couple and to our good fortune, one of them was a 2002 Sobon Estate Cabernet. Carol remembers paying around $15 a bottle and she actually bought several that day, one to have with the kids and a couple to bring home for us to enjoy.
After sampling the first bottle with Rich and Julie, Carol was anxious to get my opinion because she really liked it and thought I would too. We had it with dinner at home just a few weeks after Carol got back to Peoria and I remember thinking at that time that this tasted like a very expensive wine and I was surprised to learn what it had cost. That was several years before we started this website and though I was documenting our wines at the time and had given this Cab a very high rating, we put the remaining bottle in the cellar and forgot about it for six years.
On a Saturday afternoon in August 2010, Carol and I were planning a quiet dinner at home and in preparation, I went down to the cellar to pick out a wine for us to have with the meal. I’ve made the mistake of keeping wine in the cellar well past its prime and even past its drinkable life so I try to keep a close eye on older vintages of less-than-expensive wines. On this occasion, I noticed the remaining bottle of the ’02 Sobon Estate Cab and thought it would be a good idea to get that out of the cellar and try it with dinner that night.
I decanted the Cab and gave it a good breathe before dinner and even at the pour, this red delivered that licorice bouquet that draws me in every time. While preparing the meal that evening, I remembered how much I had liked this wine all those years earlier and was pleased to discover, at least in the nose, it had held up very well in the cellar. But the best was yet to come.
We prepared barbecued ribs that evening, along with baked potatoes and some grilled veggies that Carol improvised. The first taste of the Cabernet was everything the nose had promised. This is a fairly full-bodied Cab, a trait I love, and it was an absolute perfect match with the smoky ribs. I remember that Carol and I looked at each other and recognized that this was indeed one of those incredible wine moments that come along so rarely. Again, when you’re fortunate enough to get that from a bottle of wine that doesn’t require a second mortgage…well, it really is perfect.
Now I recognize that a lot of things impact how one perceives any particular wine at any particular time and in any particular circumstance. And I also acknowledge that wine taste lies across a broad spectrum and that one man’s perfection is another man’s bilge water. But for me, the ’02 Sobon Estate Cabernet occupies a spot near the top of my all time favorite wines. And it sits up there with much more expensive offerings. And I submit that the six years in the cellar did to this wine what time in appropriate storage will do to most good wine…make it great.
We can’t get this Cabernet locally and since we mostly fly to Maryland, it’s not easy to bring it back from out there. But after this most recent sampling, I was determined to get the current vintage and see if it could clear the bar that the ’02 had set. A favorite on-line source for wine is Pinnacle Wine Group and I was able to get a couple bottles of the ’07 (still $15) shipped to me in a week or so and I’m pleased to report that it delivered the same remarkable qualities the ’02 provided when we had it in 2004. The remaining ’07 bottle is in the cellar as I write this, awaiting its chance to provide another magic moment…oh, say in 2016.
For more information on Sobon Estate wines, check out their website at www.sobonwine.com
I ordered my ’07 Sobon Estate Cabernet from Pinnacle Wine Group. Here’s a link to their website: