Chapin 2017 Cabernet Grand Reserve

Chapin 2017 Cabernet Grand Reserve

Winery/Vineyard: Chapin Family Vineyards
Product/Varietal: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Vintage: 2017
AVA on Bottle: Temecula Valley
Winemaker: Steve Chapin, Kristine Overlaur

Rating: 90

91/100 on CellarTracker.
4.5 out of 5 stars on Vivino.

How They Describe It

Grape variety used: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
American & French Oak Barrels
Chapin Estate: 18 year vines
Alcohol: 14.7%
pH: 3.56
Harvest: October 2017
Production: 88 cases
Bottled: July 2019

This Chapin Cabernet Sauvignon was carefully hand crafted as our Estate Grand Reserve. Aged in French oak, only four barrels for 20 months. This dark rich Estate Cabernet Sauvignon has a pleasant velvety texture and a full mouthful with persistence of flavors that reverberate on the palate. It has a very smooth finish with lingering flavors of black cherry, black currants, mocha and clove.

This wine pairs with red meats, grilled vegetables, salmon, grilled crusted tuna and best with FRIENDS!

How I Describe It

This wine is a deep, concentrated ruby. A twinge of rust coloration influences the hue right along the rim, but only when holding at a slant to allow a white background underneath to show through.

Black currant and stewed cherries come across strongly on the Chapin 2017 Cabernet Grand Reserve. More subtle cranberry mixes with eucalyptus, raspberry, and plum. Spicier notes of cloves, nutmeg, and hints of bell pepper, black pepper and anise round things out.

On the palate, black currants blend with stewed cherries and plums, as well as fresh raspberry. In addition, cloves and woody cedar appear alongside bittersweet chocolate, tobacco, and coffee. Black pepper, a smidge of green olive, and fennel spice complete the mid-palate, with leather on the finish.

The Chapin 2017 Cabernet Grand Reserve is a dry wine with high alcohol (14.7% ABV), medium acid, and deliciously velvety tannins. This is a truly full bodied wine which brings along medium-plus flavor intensity and a medium-plus finish.

Why is This Wine Special?

Chapin Family Vineyards does deeply concentrated red wines very well. As a result, it shouldn’t come as a surprise (1) their Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is as robust as it is, and (2) that it tastes outstanding.

Now, it’s time to get a bit nerdy.

There are a couple interesting points to make the 2017 vintage, which likely apply to the majority of the Temecula Valley AVA’s 2017 grapes: according to, (1) it was hotter than normal, and (2) it was drier than normal. Those factors provide a lot of context behind what we taste in the wine.

Take a look at how some key factors differ between the 2017 growing season and the much milder 2019 season:

Highest Temperature106.6°F103.2°F
Average High Temperature79.9°F79°F77.1°F
Yearlong Average Temperature64.7°F63°F62.5°F
Days Over 100°F149

If data on the extremes are telling, the average temperatures and precipitation are shouting. In other words, even a couple degrees of difference, spread over a full growing season, can have tremendous impacts on wine. The hotter 2017 average likely meant the grapes ripened faster and produced more sugar than average. That might be why 2017’s Cabernet Grand Reserve has a much higher alcohol content than what you’d find in mass market Cabernets. The hotter-than-normal season also could be why the cherry flavors come across a stewed.

But take a look at the precipitation. While 11.88″ isn’t dramatically different from the yearly norm, it’s a wide departure from the far wetter 2019. Less water in the soil means two things: (1) a smaller grape yield, and (2) more concentrated flavors in the fruit. Consequently, with only 88 cases produced, the scarcity is clear. And the fruit concentration is unmistakable.

Personally, I revel in being able to taste the differences of each vintage. While terroir sets the standard, each year’s variation make the Temecula Valley AVA’s wine’s interesting and delicious. And, luckily, I also enjoy robust, concentrated wines.

In full disclosure, the bottle described here was donated by Chapin Family Vineyards. Other than providing the wine itself, there was no exchange of anything which would have influenced or unfairly biased this review.

When & How I Would Drink It

Above all, make sure this wine breathes! Cabernet Sauvignon is already one of those varietals which needs to oxygenate to bring out desirable flavors. With nearly two years of French oak exposure added on, your drinking experience will be vastly improved by decanting and allowing the wine to settle for at least two hours.

Once your wine has breathed, it’s the kind of beverage to pair with grilled red meat. For instance, beef ribs would make sure an amazing twosome, as would rib eye and rack of lamb. Gamier meats would also pair well. To sum up, try with buffalo burgers, wild boar, or venison.

How to Get It


Bottle Price: $85.00

Cases Produced: 88 cases


Have you tried the Chapin 2017 Cabernet Grand Reserve? How did the tasting notes compare with your experience? Leave a comment below.

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