The 2011 Coppola Diamond Collection Black Label Claret (Claret is the term used in England for Red wine blends from Bordeaux, France) is 79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Petit Verdot, 3% Merlot and 3% Cabernet Franc sourced from Coppola Estate vineyards in Sonoma as well a long term contracted vineyards in Napa, Sonoma and El Dorado AVA’s chosen specifically for their skill in growing a particular Bordeaux Red grape. Bordeaux wines are almost always blends, but the Coppola Claret can legally be called a Cabernet Sauvignon and not a blend, since over 75% of the grapes in the bottle are Cabernet grapes. The percentages in the blend can change with each vintage and this year Malbec was not included. The 2011 vintage had problems, the yield was down, but the grapes that made it to harvest were of good quality. California had experienced 3 years of problem vintages, but the 2012 vintage was arguably the best California vintage in 20 years, so if you enjoy the 2011 Black Label Claret, wait until next year. The wine was aged in French oak barrels for 15 months and the alcohol content is 13.5%. Winemaker Corey Beck says this is his favorite wine out of 40+ wines he produces for Coppola. The Black Label Claret lists for $18, but I have found it on sale in the 15 buck range.
The color is a dark, rich black cherry with an almost clear halo. The nose is dark berries, oaky vanilla, a little licorice and ripe plum. Nice, an under $20 Cab with full flavor, solid structure and chewy tannins. It starts with extracted blackberry, sweeter strawberry, oak spice, subtle vanilla and juicy blueberry. The mid palate shows those chewy tannins, tannins are the main thing missing from inexpensive Cabernet Sauvignon and it is what expensive Cabs have in spades, here they are right in the pocket, along with tart raspberry and dusty chocolate powder. The acidity gives this Cab some very decent length and the finish is full and lengthy.
The Coppola Black Label Claret manages to get both California Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux blends right. The Black Label Claret would rock as a Steakhouse Cab and is a satisfying sipping Red. This is the Cabernet Sauvignon you see on the store shelves wrapped in golden string, it gives the black and gold bottle a classy, old world look, it would make for a nice presentation on the dinner table. A very solid Cabernet Sauvignon selling for a very reasonable price, what is there not to like?