Cakebread

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As a reward to myself for starting an encore career I decided to purchase a splurge wine.  The wine is Cakebread Cabernet Sauvignon 2013.

Why this wine?

I learned of this wine almost simultaneously from two separate sources. Source number one was Kevin Zraly.  I purchased his book Windows on the World Complete Wine Course.  My dad always said that if a person can read, they can educate themselves, and that is what I’m endeavoring to do with wine.   For every hour I spending drinking wine, I spend two to three hours reading about it.  I’d recommend Kevin’s book.  To learn about wine the best thing you can do is drink wine with a little instruction and that is what this book does. Unfortunately  Kevin has retired and Windows on the World was destroyed on 9/11.  I firmly believe that  if you faithfully follow the book,  purchase the wines and drink them you will learn a lot about wine.

The second source was a friend who on a trip to California, fulfilled and item on his bucket list of having lunch at the French Laundry.  The French Laundry is one of the world’s top 50 restaurants.  Lunch will set you back $310 per person and the wine list has several selections from $3,000 a bottle to $10,000 a bottle.  To give you an idea of how extensive this restaurant’s wine list  is the restaurant was closed for renovations in December 2014 when two men broke into the wine cellar and stole $500,000 in wine.  I have dreamed about having lunch in a place like this since I watched the movie the “French Connection” in 1971.  Well, at least one of my buddies is living the dream.  The bottle of wine he enjoyed was Cakebread Cellars.  And as he told me about his experience he strongly recommended it try the wine and write about it.

I love the story of Cakebread.  No drama, no ambassador, no politicians, no movie stars, no family feuds, no $250,000 stainless steel bunnies.  Just one family, making great wine, year after year.

The winery was started as a hobby 40 years ago by Jack Cakebread who was an auto mechanic and owned Cakebread Garage.  He bought the vineyard from long time family friends the Sturdivant’s.  Jack his wife  Dolores and their sons Steve, Dennis, and Bruce split their time between the garage weekdays and the vineyard on weekend.  Jack’s wife who was a chef and was awarded the Grande Dame award from Les Dames d’Escoffier would cook for the volunteers who came to help Jack and the kids work the vineyard.

In 1979 Bruce graduates from UC Davis and becomes the vineyards first full time winemaker. Two of Bruce’s instructors were  Louis M. Martini and Robert Mondavi.  Cakebread was one of the first technology based winery’s introducing the “neutron probe” a device used for water management in 1982. Dennis joins the family business in 1986 when the bank he was working for wanted to relocate him and he decided not to go.  Julianne Laks joints the company as an assistant winemaker, after 30 years she is still making the wine. The hobby was becoming a business.

In the 90’s Cakebread Cellars started growing, and it reputation as a world class wine producer was established.  Today Cakebread owns 11 estate vineyards and produces 75,000 case of wine per year.

To put Cakebreads history in perspective they are the39th Bonded winery in California, Mondavi was number 33, today there are 400.

Okay, let’s go to the wine.  This has to be one of the most well put together wine’s I’ve ever tasted.  Every nut and bolt tighten to perfection.  83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot,  5% cabernet franc, and 3% petit verdot.  Color opaque purple.  Nose, pure wine drinker ecstasy. Figs, and dark cherry and hints of oak.  Taste of all the dark fruits, figs and cherry.  Very dry.  If I was going to live longer and could afford to wait this wine could have benefited from a few years in the cellar to calm the tannins down.   Overall an exceptional wine.  Worth $70, yes and no.  This was an excellent wine, but I can’t say my palate is good enough to detect the difference between a $25 bottle of wine and a $70.  I believe the price difference is better recognised in the ability of this wine to  age, this bottle will still taste great, possible better in 2030 than it does today.  I can’t say the same for me.  I’m glad I  had the ability to taste this wine now.  And I’ll be a better wine drinker because of the investment.
Now here is the question that I was not able to answer.  What is Cakebread?

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