2002 Three Dog Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet Sauvignon (Previously $40)

SKU #1250011

Our team was buzzing with excitement over this wine, and a few jaws dropped when they heard what this gem costs. It is beautifully aged Cabernet from the Santa Cruz Mountains region, south of San Francisco, and is a great example of an old-school, classically styled California red. It is also a rare treat to be able to share a perfectly mature Cab of this kind of caliber. To do so at under $25 is almost unheard of. "Today, the Cabernet Sauvignon produced in the region is among America’s best," the New York Times recently said about the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA, "particularly for fans of classically structured, savory wines, and is certainly among the best Cabernet values. Yet only small amounts are produced, and that amount is unlikely to grow anytime soon." (1/2016)

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Price: $24.99
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By: Adam Winkel | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 5/5/2016 | Send Email
Don't mind the silly label... this is an exciting bottle. A classically savory yet exuberantly fresh Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet profile here. Medium-bodied with an elegant 12.7 ABV and juicy acidity, but incisively long and concentrated. Pretty and complete from nose to tail and begs another sip. This was probably chewy and mean when it was young, but has now come into a beautiful drinking window. I often think that the Santa Cruz Mountains would be the most celebrated region in California if wines were only judged as their mature selves instead of when they were young and unrealized. See for yourself.
Drink from 2016 to 2020

By: Mari Keilman | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 4/28/2016 | Send Email
I was going to go off on several tangents talking about how Santa Cruz Mountain wines have great acidity, structure and persistence, but with a wine like this, why waste my time when I can just cut to the chase: this wine is good! Right from the get-go you are met with aromatics of tobacco, sweet baking spice, subtle scorched earth and high-toned purple fruit. While the texture is full bodied and supple from an obvious time spent in barrel, it's the persistently long finish that is loaded with beautiful honeycomb, soft red fruit and dried floral notes that steal the show.

By: Daniel Maas | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 4/27/2016 | Send Email
Sure, "Mama Told Me Not to Come" might have been one of the biggest hits of the early 70's, but it's this Cabernet that really gives THREE DOG a lasting impression. Full bodied, and rich with complexity, here you have a ton a purple fruit, vibrant eucalyptus and herbal traits, and some of the softest tannins I've encountered as of late. This is a superb wine!

By: Dave Genevro | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 4/27/2016 | Send Email
Beautifully elegant. Plenty of life, lift and fruit. With bright red berries, tobacco, and length that sings on the palate. For bottle age to price...it's not gonna get much better than this!
Top Value!

By: Andrew Stevens | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 4/27/2016 | Send Email
I came to this Cab expecting it to be solid based on where it is made and was surprised by it being really good. The nose immediately called to me with some vegetal and leather notes that spoke of the Santa Cruz Mountains. The body is surprisingly soft with hints of dark fruit, bramble, ripe red fruit and a long slightly chewy finish. I did not even notice the vintage until after I tasted it and I was shocked to see we are selling this for under $25. I have become an advocate for Santa Cruz Cab since coming to work for K&L and this is another reason why.

By: Diana Turk | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 4/27/2016 | Send Email
The wines of Santa Cruz Mountains always seem a bit underrated to me, given the depth of fruit and complexity they often offer. Three Dog Vineyard proves that with this lovely 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon. At barely 13% abv, this has an easygoing quality with well-integrated tannins, and shows brilliant plum with herbal and soft fennel notes. The finish is long and smooth but there’s brightness here with just enough acid to balance its (surprising) age beautifully. Plus the price blows my mind!

By: Greg St. Clair | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 4/27/2016 | Send Email
I really like this wine so well balanced and aromatic, the nose is full of subtle woodsy hints, bits of mint, leather, and spice. On the palate the wine has depth, body and is really supple (but not flabby), great mouth feel, lots of rich, plumy fruit highlighted by hints of green olive. Really well balanced finish, long, it just makes you want to take another sip…..Whoa…2002? @ $24.99 this is an incredible deal, perhaps more of a grilled meat wine than just a sipper but what a deal!
Drink from 2016 to 2021

By: Bryan Brick | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 4/27/2016 | Send Email
About a year ago I started a conversation with a local vineyard manager that said he had some great back vintages of Cabernet Sauvignon from the Santa Cruz Mountains. Obviously I was incredibly intrigued and asked him who the producer was. His response was Three Dog Vineyard. I had never heard of it or ever saw any of the wines. I couldn’t find anything on-line either so I was both intrigued and cautious. When he finally stopped by with a couple of different vintages I was shocked. Here was top notch Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet that nobody knew about, with tons varietal and regional character for a fantastic price point. Then we found out that they had about 15 vintages of this wine for us to choose from, needless to say we were all in. After some logistical starts and stops we finally have the 2002 Three Dog Vineyard Cabernet and we are really excited to share it with you.
I felt like out of all the vintages I tasted, which date back to 1997 if I remember correctly, the 2002 was the perfect starting point. It was fully ready to drink with a wildly effusive nose of red plum, piney forest floor notes, high toned black currant fruit and a slight pinch of tobacco on the nose. Bright and lush on the entry this still has a wild amount of wild berry fruit and a savory charred beef note with tangy cherry skin, grilled mushrooms, and a touch of pitchy red currant. Bright and savory on the finish this is just full of character and has plenty to offer for fans of the classical Santa Cruz Mountains style or for long time fans of the ever popular York Creek wines.

By: Gary Norton | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 4/27/2016 | Send Email
First and foremost, this wine is startlingly youthful and bright considering it's fourteen years old. While it's certainly starting to show some tertiary notes, it still possesses a lively acid structure and red bramble fruit notes. Dried herbs and fennel complete the finish on this diamond in the rough. Drink now. Don't hold for too long. This is a truly great find.

Additional Information:


Cabernet Sauvignon and Blends

- Cabernet Sauvignon has come a long way from its role as a blending varietal, however dominant, in the wines of Bordeaux. Today it is the most planted red varietal in the world. Identified as a descendent of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc, the late-ripening Cabernet Sauvignon needs to be planted in warmer climates to fully ripen. Its small berries can easily be identified for their distinctive blue color, thick skins and high tannins. And while the varietal has its own definitive characteristics: green pepper-like aromas and black currant flavors among them, it is perhaps most prized for its ability to convey terroir, vintage and winemaking. A relatively new varietal, Cabernet Sauvignon started making inroads into the wines of the Médoc and Graves in the late-18th century. Today it is also dominant in the up-and-coming Entre-Deux-Mers region of Bordeaux and can also be found in Southwest France. It is the companion varietal to Sangiovese in Italy's Super Tuscans and is planted all over Europe, stretching to lesser-known winegrowing regions like Russia and Lebanon. In the Americas Cabernet Sauvignon has found champions in every nook and cranny of California and among winemakers in Washington, where it complements plantings of Merlot. In South America, Cab thrives in Chile, but can also be found in smaller amounts in Argentina and even in Mexico.

United States

- When people consider domestic wine, they normally think about the state of California. The fine viticultural Region within California, including the Napa Valley, Sonoma, Santa Cruz Mountains, Mendocino and Santa Barbara, are capable of growing grapes of world-class quality. But there's plenty of fabulous wine coming from other states, too. Oregon, Washington and New York are also causing eyebrows (and glassware) to be raised around the world. Click for a list of bestselling items from the United States.


- With the explosive growth that California's wine industry has seen the past several years, it's easy to view winemaking and grape growing in the Golden State as a recent phenomenon. And while it's true that California's viticultural history is brief compared to several European countries, this state's roots date back well over 200 years. Due to the enormous response to California wine within the United States and worldwide, there are thousands of excellent and diverse wines being produced within the state each year. For our entire selection of California wines, please visit this link.
Specific Appellation:

Santa Cruz Mountains

- Vineyards dot the valleys and ridges of this coastal AVA just south of San Francisco. Microclimates make it difficult to generalize, and vineyards are frequently separated by acres of forests and meadowlands (not to mention entire towns!), but this is nonetheless known as a cooler-climate zone ideal for pinot noir. Ridge is doubtless the most famous local producer, with its cabernet blend, Monte Bello, named after a Santa Cruz mountain peak. High-quality, low-production chardonnay and some Rhône varietals prosper as well.