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2003 Schug Estate Reserve Cabernet

2003 Schug Carneros Estate
Heritage Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

92 Points - Wine Enthusiast

Today’s winery is new to WineHeist, but certainly not new to the Northern California wine scene.  Schug Estate was founded in 1980 by Walter Schug, who by then already had 20 years experience making wine, including as the founding winemaker for Joseph Phelps.  Clearly this is a man who knows his way around a California Bordeaux blend, so we were delighted to secure an allocation of a Cabernet blend with some bottle age on it.  Mr. Schug was raised and trained in Europe, so the wines may be a bit more restrained in style than some of the modern California Cabs, but perhaps because of this they age beautifully, and this 10-year old wine is just now coming into its own, with a long life in front of it.

The 2003 Schug Estate Heritage Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon has 15% Merlot and 9% Cabernet Franc in the blend, resulting in a Cab that drinks more like a Bordeaux. The color is a lovely pale ruby garnet, with a nose of just ripe blackberries, anise, pepper, and cedar. The palate shows black cherry, raspberry, coffee bean, spice and a hint of red apple skin, with silky tannin and good acidity.  At 10-years old, this is still vibrant, with juicy, fresh fruit that is beautifully integrated with secondary earthy and woodsy flavors. This medium bodied wine shows that California Cabernet blends don’t need to be massive to make a big impression on the palate, and would pair beautifully with classic French red meat or chicken dishes. Don’t miss this opportunity to snag some beautifully aged California Cabernet to drink over the next 5 years!

Vintage:  2003
Varietal:  Cabernet Sauvignon
Appellation:  Sonoma
Sugar:  24.4 Brix
Acid:  0.75
Fermentation:  Up to 12 days in stainless steel rotary fermenter
Alcohol%:  14.5

About The Winery...

Founded in 1980, Schug Carneros Estate Winery is the showcase and life-long dream of one of California's most celebrated winemakers. Walter Schug's reputation blossomed during his tenure as Founding Winemaker for Joseph Phelps Vineyards in the 1970s, where he made California’s first proprietary Bordeaux-Style blend (Insignia) and legendary vineyard designated Cabernets (Backus and Eisele Vineyards).

Drawing on his long experience in the production of fine wines in both Europe and California, Walter set up his own winery with his wife Gertrud in the cool, marine climate of the Carneros Appellation. Here he could focus on the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay varietals that had always been close to his heart.

Learn more at

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