The 2009 Emerald Bay Cabernet Sauvignon is 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot sourced from grapes grown in several vineyards in California’s Central Coast AVA. Emerald Bay is the value entry level label for Chateau Julien, a family owned and operated winery since 1982, located in Carmel in the Monterey AVA. There isn’t a fancy story behind this wine, it’s a large volume wine intended to sell for a list price of $7.00. But, there is one thing in Emerald Bay’s favor, the last few entry level wines for major wineries we added to the website were not shown on the parent companies webpage, they had their own brand page under a different URL, they were something separate. The Emerald Bay is proudly listed on Chateau Julien’s site, with all the information they make available for their more expensive wines. This is a wine Chateau Julien claims as their own, that is a good sign. This Cabernet received oak aging, they did not say barrel aging, so it could be oak staves or chips added to the stainless steel tanks, at $7.00, staves or chips instead of barrels is not a major deal. The alcohol content is 13.5%.
The color is cherry red, with black cherry highlights. The nose is subtle, but full, cherries, brewing tea, sea salt, a hint of smoke and Snickers chocolate. My first thought on taking a sip was, “Wow, this is a seven buck Cab?” I was expecting a soft wine with the edges rounded off, but a tasted a real California Cabernet Sauvignon with well integrated tannins and a strong backbone. It tastes of ripe raspberry and blueberry, with a touch of salted caramel. The mid palate adds blackberry, vanilla with a late hit of tart cranberry and dusty Nestle’s Quik powder. The acidity is well balanced by the fruit flavors, you do not notice it until the finish. The finish is the dark berries, they start off full and strong but fade quickly, though it never really goes away.
The 2009 Emerald Bay Cabernet Sauvignon is a great value at $7.00, everything about it says classic California Cabernet Sauvignon. It is maybe not as rich and full as the more expensive “drink it now” Cabs, but it is not that far off from the Big Boys, you are not missing all that much by drinking a $7.00 wine. Drink the Emerald Bay with a sirloin grilled on the backyard BBQ grill or just pop the top whenever you want a real Cabernet Sauvignon, but want to save a few bucks.