The 2007 Avalon Napa Valley is a very good Cabernet Sauvignon for its price point ($12-14 in stores) and for a wine with the Napa Valley appellation. This particular wine is frequently found on restaurant wine lists in the Des Moines area (distributed by Johnson Brothers Distributing, who must be doing a good job of touting this wine) as it gives the restaurant the ability to offer a $25-30 bottle of Napa Cabernet. My recommendation, if you order this in a restaurant, is to ask that it be decanted as it really benefits from having a chance to aerate. I’ve seen some local restaurants who store their wine on a steel rack right above the stove, so make sure you don’t order one from one of those places.
The wine bottle I tried is actually a blend of 85% Cab, 8% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petite Syrah. The color is opaque and dark burgundy with just a hint of brick around the rim. The wine has no appreciable aroma after first opening the bottle. The first thing I did detect was some earthy aroma at the first pouring. This dimished quickly (a sign that it is a volitile compound) and neither came back nor harmed the taste of the wine. It has medium tannins, little acid, just a touch of oak, and a bit of smoke. The berries don’t really come on until after the bottle has had a chance to breathe a bit. I would recommend giving the bottle more time than I gave it. As I worked through the decanter, the wine opened up considerably. The fruits themselves struck me as having plums and raspberries.
According to the winery’s website, this wine is blended with Oak Knoll, Oakville, St. Helena and Rutherford components. The wine is aged 12 or 16 months depending on whether you believe the website or the bottle. Avalon does not appear to own its own vineyards, instead buying up grapes from up to 60 different vinyards for its wine.
All in all, this is a pretty good Cabernet Sauvignon if you just want a nice tasting cab and don’t need or want to show off by paying double for a wine from a particular vineyard. Avalon has gotten very high marks by the wine snobs who are impressed that a wine at this price can taste so good. Actually, a winemaker has the ability to avoid a lot of trouble by blending wines from a place that grows fantastic grapes year in and year out. So, give it a try.