Independence Wine & Spirits Cabernet Portfolio 2022

Plenty of trade wine tastings at this time of year. In the three-tier system in New York State, a bar or restaurant has to buy their wines and spirits from a distributor. On March 8th one of those distributors, Independence Wine & Spirits held their annual portfolio tasting.

I wasn’t familiar with this particular distributor, so I was curious to see what was in their portfolio, so I attended the tasting.

I was pleasantly surprised at what they carried. They had a huge French presence with many Burgundy, Cote du Rhone and Bordeaux brands. I even had the opportunity to sample one of the Premier Grand Cru of Bordeaux, the 2017 Chateau Lafite Rothschild which was drinking very nicely.

They also had a very nice portfolio of excellent boutique California Cabernets and I decided to focus my time sampling them.

It was a trade tasting and was held at The Metropolitan Pavillion event space at 125 West 18th Street in Manhattan.

Some of what I sampled:

2019 Adversity Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon “Melanson” (Atlas Peak): Opaque black, closed nose of crushed blueberries, chewy with dark mint chocolate on the fruit, long finish.

2019 Adversity Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon “Sage Ridge” (Napa Valley): Opaque black with a purple rim, chewy and chunky black fruit, mint notes on the fruit ending with a long, dark finish.

2019 Adversity Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon “Erba” (Atlas Peak): Black with a purple rim, chewy and chunky with smoky, damp earth on the black fruit, nice balance.

2018 Anakota Cabernet Sauvignon “Helena Montana” (Knights Valley): Dark red to black in color, dark leather on the nose, tight red fruit with firm tannins.

2016 Cardinale Cabernet Franc “Caladan” (Napa Valley): Opaque dark red to black with silky fruit and tannins, great balance.

2018 La Jota Vineyard Co. Cabernet Sauvignon (Howell Mt): Opaque black with dusty, crushed black fruit on the nose with dense and chewy black fruit ending with silky, firm tannins.

2018 Lokoya Cabernet Sauvignon (Diamond Mt): Opaque dark red, crushed rocks and green herbs on the nose, bright red fruit, crisp acids.

2018 Lokoya Cabernet Sauvignon (Howell Mt): Opaque dark red, closed nose of milk chocolate with chewy and dusty fruit ending with silky tannins.

2018 Staglin Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon “Salus” (Rutherford): Medium red with tobacco and bacon fat on the nose, silky red fruit with some pickle juice notes on the finish.

2018 Staglin Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon “Estate” (Rutherford): Clear medium red, crushed black fruit on the nose, chewy with tobacco note on the fruit, silky tannins.

2017 Taub Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon “Morisoli-Borges” (Rutherford): Clear medium red, dusty dried leaf on the nose, silky black fruit with silky tannins on the long finish.

2017 Taub Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon “Beckstoffer Missouri Hopper” (Napa Valley): Opaque dark red to black, sweet violets on the nose, silky with a great grip on the balanced, long finish.

2018 Mt. Brave Cabernet Sauvignon (Mt Veeder): Opaque dark red, crushed black fruit on the nose, chewy bark fruit ending with big tannins.

2018 Verité Cabernet Sauvignon “La Jolie” (Sonoma County): Dark red to black, closed nose of tar and tobacco with dense, silky and toasty fruit, firm finish.

2018 Verité Merlot “La Muse” (Sonoma County): Clear medium red, toasty nose with silky red fruit, nice balance.

2017 Y. Rousseau Single Vineyard Tannat

This wine is not something you see coming out of California very often, a wine from the Tannat grape varietal. The grape is native to the French Basque region in the southwest part of the country and grown in Gascony in the Madiran AOC.

It’s been grown in California for over a hundred year used primarily as a blending grape to beef up wines. It’s gotten a foot hold in Paso Robles but this version is grown in the tiny Clarksburg AVA which is West of Napa Valley and about an hours drive North of Lodi.

Yannick Rousseau, a French native born in Gascony is the owner/winemaker.

2017 Y. Rousseau Tannat, Clarksburg, California

A blend of 90% Tannat and 10% Syrah. Opaque dark purple to black with crushed blueberries, menthol and sage on the nose, juicy black fruit finishing with dark citrus notes, mouth coating tannins and moderate acidity.

2018 Decoy Pinot Noir LTD Sonoma Coast

Decoy wines are part of the extensive Duckhorn Vineyards portfolio which includes the Paraduxx, Canvasback, Migration, Calera and Goldeneye brands.

This Pinot Noir was made with grapes from the Russian River Valley, Green Valley and Carneros AVA’s.

2018 Decoy Pinot Noir LTD

Clear, bright red in color, floral, tobacco and wood notes on the nose with bright red fruit, cherry, cola, some earth notes and firm acids on the finish. Nothing flawed about the wine but it’s a little one dimensional.

2016 Acacia Vineyards Pinot Noir Thornton Vineyard

Now that the weather is warming up it’s almost Rosé season but in the meantime I’ll start with lighter bodied reds which often mean some Pinot Noir.

Acacia is a winery in the Carneros district of Sonoma county in California which bottle vineyard designated Pinot Noir.

2016 Acacia Pinot Noir Thornton Vineyard

Clear medium to light red in color, warm black plum, tree bark and red cherry on the nose, red leather, black cherry and cola notes on the silky red fruit with a nicely balanced, long spicy finish. Really nice, enjoyable glass of wine.

2017 Ridge Vineyards Petite Sirah Lytton Springs



Petite Sirah is the new world name for the Durif grape which was developed in France in the mid 1800’s. It’s a cross pollination of the Syrah and Peloursin grape varietals. 

It’s relatively rare varietal with less than 10,000 planted acres in the world with the majority in California. 

It was brought into California in the early 20th century and became a workhorse grape with winemakers adding it to a blend to beef up the wine. 

Ridge Vineyards is know for their Zinfandel (and a good Monte Bello Cabernet Sauvignon as well) which are often blended with Rhone varietals . This wine is from their Lytton Springs vineyard in the Dry Creek Valley of Sonoma County.  The oldest vines in the vineyard date back to 1901.


2017 Lytton Springs Petite Sirah

Opaque dark purple with a purple rim, dill pickle, bacon fat and slate notes on the nose, concentrated meaty black fruit, chalky tannins on the peppery, balanced finish. Very enjoyable glass of wine.  




2016 Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon Knights Valley



Beringer Vineyards is an iconic winery in Napa Valley with a 144 year history.

They produce a wide range of wines from basic bottlings to high-end single vineyard and reserve wines.

This one comes from the Knights Valley appellation which is located in North-East Sonoma County.


2016 Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon Knights Valley

88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petite Verdot. 

Opaque dark red with a purple rim, with roast meat, metal shavings, tobacco and red licorice on the nose, thick with black silky fruit with mint notes on the nicely balanced finish. 



2018 Josh Cellars Rosé California



Now that the warmer weather is upon us, it’s rosé time. I like a glass of rosé on a warm day. To me they are the casual wear of the wine world, nothing serious to make a fuss about and as long as it’s not sweet, I’ll drink it.

Josh Cellars was founded in 2007 by Joseph Carr and named as a tribute to his Dad, Josh. They produce wines sourced from across the California winegrowing regions.


2018 Josh Cellars Rosé California:  Clear copper in color, nose of watermelon and sweet strawberry, dry with light cherry notes and some earthiness on the finish, easy drinking. 




2015 Markham Vineyards Merlot Napa Valley


Markham Vineyards is one of the oldest wineries in Napa Valley, founded in 1874 by French immigrant, Jean Laurent.

The 2015 vintage in Napa was another drought year in wine country that produced a small crop but good quality wines.


2015 Markham Vineyards Merlot Napa Valley:  Clear medium red with a purple rim, nice perfume of earthy raspberries and violets. dusty, chewy, crushed black fruit ending with moderate tannins and acids, nice balance.



2016 Buehler Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley



Buehler Vineyards is a 4th generation run vineyard perched on a mountain East of Saint Helena in Napa Valley.

This is their entry level Cabernet Sauvignon and is 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot.

2016 Buehler Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon: Opaque dark red, red leather, red licorice and roast meat on the nose, silky dark red fruit of crushed rocks with crunchy tannins and green herb notes on the moderate to long finish.


2015 Beringer “Quantum” Red Blend



Beringer vineyards has been producing wine in the Napa Valley since 1876. Their tasting room is a Napa Valley landmark.

They produce a wide range of wines from budget bottlings to their flagship Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon along with several bottlings of hard to get single vineyard wines.

Their Quantum bottle is a red blend of the Bordeaux varietals of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot with some Petit Sirah.


2015 Beringer Quantum Red BlendOpaque dark red, violets, anise and crushed black fruit on the nose, juicy and jimmy with black licorice and slate on the moderate to long finish, good grip, some heat.