The Austerity Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 is sourced from vineyards in the Paso Robles AVA inside the Central Coast AVA about halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Austerity is one of O’Neil Vintners many labels (others include Line 39, Harkin, and Red Tree) and they control 15,000 acres of vineyards thru-out California (including Paso Robles). Paso Robles has a fairly recent history with Cabernet Sauvignon, they didn’t start to get serious about planting Cabernet until the 1970’s. In contrast, Napa Valley was developed to the point it was winning the Judgement in Paris contest in 1976. As relative newcomers, Paso Robles vineyards and winemakers are not tied to the old rules of producing wine, they are not completely focused on how Bordeaux and Burgundy do things. They make modern wines for modern people. This Cabernet Sauvignon was aged in American oak barrels for 6 months and the alcohol content is a stout 15%. The 2013 vintage has an alcohol content of 13.5%, so there will be a marked difference between the 2014 and 2013. The 2014 vintage will be noticeably bigger and bolder.
The color is black cherry red with a burgundy halo. The nose is sharp and clean, ripe blackberry, toasty vanilla, fudge brownie, cooking spice, and a hint of spring flowers. This is a reasonably complex, yet smooth Cabernet Sauvignon. It tastes of blackberry, black pepper, plums, licorice, and raspberry. The mid-palate shows pomegranate, a mix of exotic spice and vanilla, and a late slap of strawberry. The tannins are there, you can feel them, but they don’t interfere. The acidity is well-balanced, this is both a fine food wine and an excellent sipping wine. The finish mixes smooth ripe fruit with dusty tannins and it slowly fades away.
The Austerity Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 is a real deal California Cab. It lists for $17 (a quick check of the internet showed prices as low as $14) and I think this is the sweet spot for an honest California Cabernet Sauvignon. While there are a few good Cabs in the $10 range it’s kind of hit or miss, because a Cali Cab needs oak conditioning and that costs money. In this price range, winemakers are getting really good grapes and have the room to get the oak flavoring they ae looking for. In other words, they can produce a solid California Cabernet without too many limitations on them. If you just got to have a Cab from a certain winemaker or a specific vineyard or AVA, them you will have to pay extra for a more exclusive wine. But, if you need a real good, very solid California Cabernet Sauvignon, then the Austerity Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 gets the job done.