Decent Cab under 20 Bucks–No Ghost-Story!

Absolutely inpenetrable black ruby with purple edges.  The initial fruit matches the edges, being Kool-aidy and forward of an unsophisticated type.  Initial AL just SEARS and I decided to decant vigorously.  I bought this because I had some time to kill in the BevMo parking lot waiting for a car-service and wandered in to peruse their horribly boring and not-wonderfully-priced book.  I do NOT shop at BevMo, but occasionally scan the shelves.  While I was looking, a heated search was going on around me–initiated by an inquiring shopper and perpetrated by the moronic beer-drinkers they employ–for a “Ghost Pines cab”.  They passed me on several searches and computer-inventory-checks and I happened to be RIGHT THERE when they finally located it.  Of course, after the customer selected her bottle and left, I turned to see what the hoopla was all about.  I had seen the label, and turned it to discover it is made by Louis Martini & Sons, was on the top shelf and priced at 19.99.  That same evening I hit Smart & Final for a few dinner items and *just happened* to see the same wine on sale for 13.99.  Well, now!  Now you’re talkin!  Useless to resist such a bargain.  And I bit.

A bit of air turns this into a deeply-fruited wine still with heavy residuals of alcohol.  The Kool-aid fruit has turned in the direction of a dark, clockwork lab-constructed extraction of the plum-skin variety.  Intensely smokey and fat layers of caramel round out the still-intense sensation of AL.  Still exemplifying the bright-pink edges.  Intense rich oak dominates the middle and the bright fruit returns for a glimpse right before the intense tannin takes over in the late-middle and powers out the finish.  As expected, very little lingering deep fruit completes the wine, but the tannin and ‘perceived sweetness’ with an ample caramel-coating take over and form what would might be considered a ‘long finish’.  There is actually some sediment–quite a shocking discovery for a wine of this… um… *pedigree*.

This is a great wine for the price.  Totally serviceable.  Ranks right up there with recent offerings from Beringer Knight’s Valley, BV Rutherford and Napa, and even OMG:  The regular Caymus of late.  You could take this to a party and be a hero.  For me, it just lacks the un-definable “Heart-n-Soul” factor.  There is no distinct terroir, there is no varietal or vegetal nuances which make you want to seek it out.  But 13.99!  As someone on Instagram noted, it is a perfect wine for novices looking to ‘step up’ a bit from the bottom couple shelves.  It is just a little too creamy and vanilla-y and the tannins don’t work with the fruit to be taken too seriously in terms of cellar-candidate.  And then there’s that pesky AL.  I pegged it a clear one point higher than the label indicates:  13-8.  Buy it, drink it, enjoy it.  It really is a lovely crowd-pleasing wine in the near-term and for a few years.

2011 GHOST PINES Cabernet Sauvignon California 13.8


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