Variety: 96% Cabernet Sauvignon; 3% Cabernet Franc; 1% Petit Verdot
Region: Mendocino County, CA
Cost: $20 (SRP)
Winemaker’s Notes: Paul Dolan Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon is sourced from the winery home estate, which consistently yields wines of impeccable varietal correctness and balance. Rich, regal, and layered, aromas of black currant, olive tapenade, and licorice are followed by flavors of black cherry, liquor de cassis, and carob.
My Review: There was a time when, had you offered me a glass of “budget-friendly” Cabernet Sauvignon, I may have demurred. My experiences with them had been that they were overly fruit-forward (the so-called “fruit bombs”) that either completely overwhelmed whatever they were paired with, or were themselves completely overwhelmed. Fortunately, some things have changed in the last 8 years (8! Really!?) that I’ve been rambling on this site.
Now, to be fair, the 2015 Paul Dolan Cabernet Sauvignon isn’t 100% cabernet, but it A) meets the standards for being labeled as a single varietal, and B) at 96% Cabernet Sauvignon it’s fair to say that it’s the dominant grape in the blend. In the glass the wine was red with streaks of purple that I would normally attribute to the Petit Verdot that made it into the blend.
On the nose the wine started a bit hot (14.5% alcohol/volume), but as it opened I picked up notes of olive and dark fruit. In the mouth the wine showed dark berry notes at the front, with a smooth mid-palate (another attribution to the Petit Verdot for me), and finished with a tart, tannic finish (which I attributed to the Cabernet Franc as much as anything).
My wife and I opened this wine on a weekend while on the couch watching football and paired it with munchies – Korean BBQ meatballs and gnocchi in a red sauce. The wine paired well with both, complimenting the richness of the meatballs and the acid of the gnocchi in the sauce.
Did the 2015 Paul Dolan Cabernet Sauvignon blow my mind? No. Was it a good value, and something I’d pick up again to share with some friends at a party? Sure. While I wouldn’t call this a special occasion wine, the price and flavors line up well to make this a wine to share with friends at parties (the holidays aren’t that far away) when. It won’t be the talk of the party, but it won’t be something that someone has to begrudgingly take home at the end of the night either.
Editor’s Note: I received this wine as a free sample for review.