Back in early July, when summer was still young, the tasting panel gathered at the rustic home of winemaker Mark Cargasacchi for an evening of bubbles and Bordeaux blends.

Cargasacchi outdid himself with both wine and food to accompany the libations, serving us seared scallops, creamed spinach, salad and rack of lamb in a North African herb marinade — by itself naturally the sweet spot for heartier reds.

Because it’s been a while, here’s a refresher — we are: Michelle Lee and Jeremy Ball, Bottle Branding Inc.; Katie Baillargeon and Marcel Rivera-Baillargeon, UCSB creative writing professor and online marketing specialist, respectively; new panel members Anne and Jason Burns, software entrepreneurs; Cargasacchi, winemaker/owner, Jalama Wines and Joseph Blair Wines; and myself. (Missing this evening was Laura Sanchez, wine journalist for several local and national publications).

The six wines, Cargasacchi noted beforehand, hailed from California, Washington, the Santa Ynez Valley, Napa, France and Israel.

Wine One: “Wow — tannic; this is a cabernet franc; short finish; tart cherry; love this; a great meat wine; little bit of Brett (brettanomyces).”

Wine Two: “This is all cab sauv; elegant; ‘wet dog’; like Red Camel cigarettes, possibly the Israeli cabernet sauvignon?”

Wine Three: “Coffee on the nose; unripe; this must be the Washington wine; beefy, meaty; like a dirty Indian food restaurant with pureed plums and yellow curry; sour; oily butternut.”

Wine Four: “Elegant; expensive; hot; from the Santa Ynez Valley; spicy; cabernet franc.”

Wine Five: “Big-time Brett (brettanomyces) — way more than number one; corked.”

Wine Six: “Butter on the nose; spice — kind of like a Christmas (cookie) spice; musky, dark; lighter; I like this; black plum and black cherry; more cabernet sauvignon-like; cocoa powder.”

The wines:

Wine One: 2008 Carhartt Fourplay: a blend of Carhartt estate fruit and that from other sites — 43 percent estate merlot; 36 percent cabernet sauvignon, Paso Robles; 16 percent cabernet franc, Rock Hollow Vineyard, Santa Ynez Valley; and 5 percent petit verdot, Paso Robles. Price: $40 (According to, that’s the 2009 price, and since 2009 is sold out, I assume that 2008 is, as well).

Wine Two: 2010 Gamla, from Galilee, Israel, Golan Heights Winery; 100 percent cabernet sauvignon. Price: Approximately $13.

Wine Three: 2006 Col Solare, Columbia Valley, Wash. Contains 72 percent cabernet sauvignon, 19 percent merlot, 4 percent cabernet franc, 3 percent petit verdot and 2 percent syrah. Price: $75 at

Wine Four: 2007 Star Lane Happy Canyon Estate Red Blend: Contains 75 percent cabernet sauvignon, according to Price: $44.

Wine Five: 1994 Chateau Corbin Michotte Grand Cru Classe, Saint-Emillion Grand Cru. Price: Approximately $40, according to

Wine Six: 2007 Miner Oracle, Napa Valley Red Wine, comprised of 55 percent cabernet sauvignon, 20 percent cabernet franc, 15 percent merlot, 5 percent malbec and 5 percent petit verdot. Price: $90. Sold out;