The Wine Guy: A commanding bouquet | March 28, 2008 | Danville Express | |

Danville Express

Living - March 28, 2008

The Wine Guy: A commanding bouquet

by Gregory Peebles

2005 Mitchell Katz at Ruby Hill

"Clark's Corner" Cabernet Sauvignon

Livermore Valley

BevMo! - Danville, $12.99

East Bay residents, take pride! Our very own wine country has a history every bit as substantial as the more renowned valley to the north. Robert Livermore's first commercial vine plantings over 160 years ago laid the foundation for today's renaissance. Livermore Valley now plays host to nearly 40 wineries ranging from the classic, venerable names of Concannon and Wente to new, small-production properties like Mitchell Katz at Ruby Hill.

Mitchell Katz at Ruby Hill proudly stands upon the bright red soil where Ruby Hill Winery once stood. On Nov. 8, 1989, the original winery structure, dating back to the late 1880s, burned under suspect circumstances. A local winemaking region combining a rich history and modern-day intrigue: a fascinating blend.

Winemaker Mitchell Katz's dream is to produce handcrafted, affordable wines of quality. I imagine "Clark's Corner" satisfies his dream.

Muted purple is the core color. Traces of red and ruby on the outer rim frame the nearly opaque center. An overall dusky intensity appears to indicate minimal filtration and fining. Wines finished in such a manner usually exhibit much more character and longevity compared to those which are heavily "processed." In viticulture and winemaking, often less is much, much more.

Aromas range from tart plum, perky black cherry and cassis. With time, pleasant dried fruit, tawny-like characters evolve, too. Sweet herb notes best describe the commanding bouquet due to 24 months in 100 percent American oak.

As for the palate, this Cabernet Sauvignon (100 percent varietal) provides medium body weight, immediate approachability and youthful fleshiness. Soft tannins complete the picture.

Overall, it's indeed an affordable and pleasing effort worthy of a try. Just 350 cases were bottled.

Pop the cork and appreciate Mitchell Katz's Cabernet with family and friends gathered around platters of gourmet burgers. Thankfully, barbecue season will soon return in all its glory!

Picture this: a medium rare, double-decker ground sirloin masterpiece topped with pungent blue cheese, sweet Walla Walla onion, lettuce, vine-ripened "Supersteak" tomato and snappy kosher dill pickle. Everything is jammed into a fresh, artisan bun dripping with your favorite condiments ... my, oh my! Hey, don't forget the potato salad...

Let your palate be the judge...

Have comments or questions about wine? Gregory Peebles, wine industry professional and East Bay resident, can be contacted at