Cheap Wine That Doesn't Suck

Here's a blast from the past. Back in the 1980s, when I was living in Northern California wine country, Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon was the cork dorks' go-to red for every-day drinking. The second label of expensive-even-then Caymus, it offered its parents' high-toned pedigree at a price we wage slaves could swallow. 

After a while, though, it seemed to vanish from the wine industry radar, and I vanished from California. Then just a week or so ago, after more years than I care to count, a box showed up at my house with a trio of Liberty School wines, including my old buddy, Liberty School Cab.

It's a new Liberty School now, produced by the Hope family in Paso Robles, growers of the grapes used in the original Liberty School Cabernet. And it's still this cork dork's go-to wine for an every-day red. The 2007 vintage is rich and full-bodied and has all the luscious blueberry and blackberry fruit I remember, backed by firm tannins and augmented by hints of cloves and allspice and earthy, toasty oak.  

At a time when all too many California Cabs are overwrought, overpriced, overoaked, and overly alcoholic, this $12, 13.5-percent alcohol Cabernet is the kind of nostalgia we could use a lot more of.

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