Review and comparison with 2018 El Tiburon North Coast Cabernet Sauvignon
I don’t often do wine comparisons because I don’t know if they are particularly useful. However, since I recently reviewed another wine, the 2018 El Tiburon, which, like this wine, made use of grapes sourced from different vineyards and growing areas in California, I thought it might be fun to highlight the diversity of the Cabernet Sauvignon varietal.
You might want to read or reread my El Tiburon review before diving into this article.
El Tiburon 2018 North Coast Cabernet Sauvignon
Introduction to the North Coast wine region and review
As I have mentioned before Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon reigns king in California. They make up over 30% of the wine grapes grown in California (Chardonnay 15.8% Cabernet Sauvignon 15.1%).
Because of the high number of Cabernet Sauvignon varietal grapes grown in the state and the biodiversity between geographical areas, there can be a big difference between flavors in California Cabernet.
Both the El Tiburon and Silver Pony I tried were 2018 vintage. Funny enough, both are named after animals (El Tiburon is spanish for The Shark). Both make use of grapes from multiple vineyards; however, whereas the El Tiburon grapes were sourced from two counties in the North Coast (Lake and Mendocino), the Silver Pony sourced from “select vineyards in various growing areas of California”.
Given the less defined nature of the sourcing of the Cabernet grapes in the Silver Pony its hard to know what accounts for the differences in the two wines. Given the different diverse nature of growing environments in California, small differences in distance can make a big difference. As such, it is still worth noting, that I saw distinct differences between the two wines.
One of the big differences was in color. The Silver Pony was much darker in color. Again, I think this is one of the unique aspects of California Cabernet that such a large and distinct difference in color can be possible. The more temperate climate of the solely North Coast grapes make a lighter color; whereas, I can only assume some of the grapes sourced for the Silver Pony were from a warmer growing region in California. Because both were 2018 vintage (which was a fairly temperate year) the difference can’t be explained away by temperatures between years. Although, the color can be affected by wine making techniques.
The other big difference I noticed was in the dryness of the wine. The 2018 Silver Pony was much dryer caused by higher Tannin levels. The higher Tannin level should be expected given the darker color, and it is possible that those two combined mean the winemakers let the grape skins soak in the wine longer producing a darker color and higher tannin levels. The net result was a drier wine with heavier tastes of wood spice. I love a dry red wine, so I’m glad the Silver Pony Cabernet highlighted that aspect of the wine. Although there was some blackberry flavors it was nothing like the black cherry forward flavors of the El Tiburon.
It seemed to me that both wines attempted to be a celebration of the California-American Cabernet Sauvignon by taking some of the best grapes from all over California. However, it is more of a challenge to do that when there is such diversity in the varietal and in the growing regions of California. Unlike El Tiburon which limited itself to the North Coast region, the Silver Pony is more ambitious. Unfortunately, I’m not sure it was as successful. Both were still quality wines, although I preferred the El Tiburon with its more defined flavors.