Perlis Picks: Ian Blackburn and the Stars of Cabernet

Thank goodness for Ian Blackburn. 

Allow me to explain…

Not long ago, I had the extreme displeasure to attend a wine seminar and tasting event that was run so poorly that I ended up leaving far earlier than I normally would, and vowed never to attend an event again by that particular organizer until I could be sure they had solved their problems – which will probably be never, as they seemed genuinely clueless.

5514522957420020131113_115714Fortunately, a few weeks later, I had the great pleasure to attend Ian Blackburn’s Learn About Wine Stars of Cabernet seminar and tasting, held the at the beautiful Peninsula hotel in Beverly Hills. It reminded me how wonderful these types of events can be when run properly, which Ian has proven time and time again he can do, and nobody does it better.

For the seminar, Ian Blackburn was moderator of a panel that consisted of:

Jean Hoefliger, winemaker for Alpha Omega.

Aaron Pott, consulting winemaker for several wineries as well as winemaker for his own label – Pott Wine.

Lars Ryssdal, general manager of Ackerman Family Vineyards.


The primary focus of the seminar was the 2011 vintage, and part of the seminar, of course, included tasting wines from this vintage from each of the above name wineries:

Alpha Omega ERA Napa Valley 2011

Pott Wine La carte et Le Territoire Napa Valley 2011

Ackerman Napa Valley 2011


The discussion continued well beyond that to include the careers paths of the gentlemen on the panel and their winemaking philosophies. And, we got to taste other wines from these winemakers, including:

Ackerman Napa Valley 2003

Monteverro, Toscana by Jean Hoefliger from a project he is involved with in Italy.

Pott Wine Carbernet Sauvignon from the iconic Stagecoach Vineyard on Atlas Peak.

After the seminar, it was time for the tasting, which included about 50 wineries pouring their latest Cabernet Sauvignon offerings. Most of the wineries were from the Napa Valley, but there were wines from other areas as well.


Some of my favorites [with my comments, if any, in brackets] were:

Louis M. Martini

2010 Monte Rosso Cabernet

2010 Napa Valley Cabernet Lot 1

[Admittedly not a winery that I have paid attention to in a while. Very impressive .]




2011 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon


Tanner DaFoe

2011 Cabernet Sauvignon Barrel Tasting

2009 Cabernet Sauvignon

 [Hard to believe this Cab came from Santa Ynez. And having an actual mini barrel for the barrel tasting was a nice touch.]


Hawk and Horse Vineyards

2009 HHV / Block Three

2009 Latigo

 [Biodynamic and organic winery based in Lake County.]



Helena Montana Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

Helena Dakota Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon


Tierra Roja

2009 Cabernet Sauvignon

 [A great wine that really emphasized the fruit.]


Gentleman Farmer

2010 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon


Collier Falls

2010 Hillside Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

 [I’m a big fan of this Sonoma winery’s Primitivo. Their Cab was very tasty and it was nice to see some Sonoma representation.] 

As usual, I couldn’t try everything, but that is, I think, one of the marks of a good event – to leave you wanting more and looking forward to next time. And I am definitely looking forward to Ian’s next event. You should too – sign up for the Learn About Wine email list at

Michael Perlis has been pursuing his passion for wine for more than 25 years. He has had the good fortune of having numerous mentors to show him the way, as well as a wonderful wife who encourages him and shares his interest. After a couple of decades of learning about wine, attending events, visiting wineries and vineyards, and tasting as much wine as he possibly could, he had the amazing luck to meet Eve Bushman. Now, as Contributing Editor for Eve’s Wine 101, he does his best to bring as much information as possible about wine to Eve’s Wine 101 faithful readers. (2013 Update: Eve and Michael announced Eve Wine 101 Consulting. Info is here: Michael can be contacted at