The 337 Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 is a single clone (#337 also known as FPS 47), single Estate vineyard (Clay Station Vineyard) wine grown in the Lodi AVA of California’s Central Valley (east of San Francisco Bay). The producer, Noble Vines is one of Delicato Family Vineyards many labels and Clay Station Vineyards is one of Delicato’s properties, the list price is $14.99. Usually with under $20 wines, as long is the price is right and the wine in the bottle is good, you don’t ask many questions about what it took to produce the wine. The 337 Cabernet Sauvignon pulls back the curtains and shows a little of the nuts and bolts that went into the production. There are 35 Cabernet Sauvignon grapevine clones approved for planting in California (a clone is where a section of the original vine is grafted to rootstock, without pollination, it is genetically identical to the original grapevine. This is how they got a multitude of vineyards from a relatively small number of donor grapevines). Each clone has its own set of characteristics, resistance to disease, fruit yield, flavor profile and how they perform in certain soil and weather conditions. The 337 Cabernet Sauvignon clone is a relatively new clone (since the mid 1990s) originating in Bordeaux, France. This is not the clone used in Old School Napa Valley Cabs, though it is planted there now, and has excellent cellaring possibilities. Lodi is the California AVA that is similar to grape growing areas around the Mediterranean, cool morning breezes off the Pacific Ocean, warm summer days and cool evenings. In France they call this “terroir,” how a certain grape grown in a particular place is affected by the soil and the climate. It is very rare to find a single vineyard, single clone, “terroir” driven California Cabernet for under 15 bucks. The 2010 tech notes don’t mention oak aging, the 2009 337 Cabernet was aged in French and American oak casks and the alcohol content is 14.5%.
The color is black cherry red with an almost clear halo. The nose is ripe cherry, baking chocolate chip cookies, the scent you get when you first walk into a coffee shop and a soft touch of herbs. There is a silky smooth mouthfeel to start things off, that evolves into rougher edge by the mid palate. It tastes of just picked Michigan black cherries, Nestle’s Quik powder, blueberries in cream and plum. The mid palate brings some sweet strawberry, black pepper, tart cranberry and a slight slap from the tannins (just enough to let you know that this is real Cabernet Sauvignon). The acidity is subdued, it makes itself known at the finish and allows the cherry and blueberry finish to be fairly robust and long lasting.
The 2010 Noble Vines 337 Cabernet Sauvignon is an extremely solid Cab, a few years ago you can never imagine getting this good of a California Cabernet Sauvignon for the money. Fruit forward with more complexity and texture than expected, with good balance and excellent structure, this is everything you can ask a “drink it now” Cab to be. Enjoy it with an aged steak and cheddar mashed potatoes on the backyard grill, at under $15, you can afford the expensive aged steaks or drink it on the deck while sitting around the fire pit, the fire and the Cab will keep you warm.