When two sample bottles arrived on my desk – both Cabernet Sauvignon-based, both from California, both with golfing associations and both being pitched as ‘perfect for father’s day’ because of that, it seemed a good idea to line both bottles up side by side on my tasting bench. In truth the comparison is a little unfair. One wine costs the thick end of £30 from independent wine merchants, the other is currently on offer on the high street for less than a tenner. The Luke Donald Collection ‘Claret’ 2006 is a Napa Valley Bordeaux-blend put together in a partnership between top golfing pro Luke Donald and winemaker Bill Terlato. Meanwhile, the golfing connection for Beringer’s Californian Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 is that Beringer is the ‘official wine’ of the PGA Golf Tour this year.
The Luke Donald Collection ‘Claret’ 2006, California
The blend is 44% Merlot, 43% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot, “handcrafted in a traditional European style,” according to the label. On the nose, soaring mint and cassis dominate, a real eucalypt and menthol lift and a little herbal, some hints of creamy oak and bramble depth. On the palate there is plenty of sweet vanilla here, perhaps a tad too much, but the juicy cut of the acidity and roughening plum-skin edge of the tannins do help to offset the creamy sweetness of the fruit and oak. A big wine, but not a clumsy one, a certain refinement amongst all that ripeness. 90/100. £29.99, Cellarviewines.com. See all UK stockists on wine-searcher.
Beringer Founder’s Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, California
Though Beringer is based in Napa, there is no Napa designation on this bottle so I presume fruit has come from various Californian regions. It has a pleasant, berry and blackcurrant nose with a layer of sweet vanilla and a touch of spice. Smooth and ripe fruit seems to drive this. On the palate it is much the same picture: there is a juiciness and dark berry-skins richness to this, a hint of spice and some creamy, toasty oak. The finish is a little harsh, perhaps the acidity and tannins just a touch rough compared to the suave sophistication of the Luke Donald wine. 86/100. £11.99, Majestic, but on offer at £9.99 until September 2013.