California Cabernet Sauvignons

Comparing California Cabernets: Estate Versus Negociant and Cooperative

Let’s face it, California is not exactly a hotbed of good values. The cost of land and labor in the Golden State is typically much higher than many of the other wine producing regions of the world. Combine that with the fact that many producers are paying pricey land leases and/or want to have glitzy facilities and tasting rooms, and you have the recipe for expensive wine.

Thank goodness that’s not always the case! By “setting up shop” in lesser known, lower rent regions, producers can keep their costs down, as is the case with James Mitchell. James and his team are what we refer to as an “estate” winery, meaning they own and farm their own vineyards and make their wines at their own facilities. In a nutshell, they “raise and rear” their wine from the vineyard to the bottle. This is the type of wine and production method that we specialize in at Table Wine; “Farmer Wines” as we like to call them.

However, we do reserve the right to carry anything we want, and there are some really great wines being produced by cooperatives and negociants all over the world. A negociant operation, like Jade Mountain, is one which buys fruit or sometimes juice to make their wines. They either make their wines at a winemaking facility (if grapes are purchased) and/or mature the wines as they see fit in oak barrels and/or in bottle. A cooperative, on the other hand, is a member owned operation whereby farmers or vineyard owners deliver grapes to one facility, which handles production of the wines and the subsequent marketing activities. At the end of the day, whether you’re buying an estate, negociant or cooperative produced wine, it’s a good idea to shop with a small, independently owned wine shop. If they’re anything like us, they try a ton of wines every week and act as your filter.

Below are the two wines we poured on Saturday, August 24th for our free tasting.

– 2010 James Mitchell Cabernet Sauvignon “Estate” (Lodi) – This is an absurd value in really high quality, estate Cabernet Sauvignon. When we say “estate”, it means that the producer owns and controls all of the means and methods by which they produce their wine. They own their vineyards, they farm them, they harvest their fruit and they make their wines at their own facilities; in a nutshell, they “raise” the wine from the vineyard to the bottle. In this wine you will find a lot of ripe, lush dark fruit and warm spices. Classic Cab at a great price!

– 2010 Jade Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley/Lake County) – Jade Mountain functions a bit differently than James Mitchell. They purchase fruit from various vineyards throughout Napa and Sonoma and then make their wines at a winemaking facility. This is not a bad thing, as it truly helps to keep the price of the wine down without sacrificing quality. Warm blueberry and cherry fruit mingle with roasted herb and spice notes in this perfect cocktail-styled Cabernet.