Deep ruby color; black cherry, blackberry on the nose; black cherry, blackberry, black plum, mocha, oak spice—vanilla, cinnamon—on the palate.
Dry; superbly smooth with appropriate oak after 18 months in French and American oak, but most must have been used barrels, not new, because the oak monster is nowhere to be found in this pour. Blackcurrant tang on mid-palate and finish. Very easy going tannins, creamy texture. Balanced, rich, layered. Lingering, pleasing finish. Generous with its warm-fuzzy drinkability.
The grapes for this effort come from the Red Hills appellation in Lake County, a new AVA (American Viticultural Area). Well-known Napa grape grower Andy Beckstoffer provides the clone 6 and clone 37 cab grapes for this bottling; Beckstoffer has worked with Steele since 2002.
Winemaker and owner Jed Steele’s career began in the cellar in 1968 at Stony Hill in the Napa Valley. He earned an enology degree at U.C. Davis, then spent time at Edmeades in the Anderson Valley, then moved to become the founding winemaker and vice president of production at Kendall Jackson. 2018 is the 26th anniversary of Steele Wines in Lake County. Steele has four labels: Steele, Shooting Star, Steele Stymie, and Writer’s Block. The winery focuses on making smaller lots—less than 2,000 cases. Steele notes: “This reflects my fascination with many diverse varietals and vineyard sites. And staying small means we can practice true craftsmanship in the production of all our wines.”
Steele Cabernet Sauvignon Red Hills Lake County 2015 is a very well behaved cab that easily could be enjoyed by those who are skittish around bolder, more tannic cab efforts. Nice rich fruit. Smoothness and drinkability are its core virtues. It is not complex; approachable simplicity is its major and appealing virtue. This is like a pair of well-worn dungarees and a favorite pull over rather than a Sunday church suit. Pair with friends for easy sipping accompanied by wine crackers, aged cheese cubes, and reveries about good times past; also with spice-rubbed rib eye steak, lamb, burgers and sliders, pizza, tomato-based pasta. Very nicely priced for what you get. $19-22