In my wine tasting group Silver Oak Cabarnet Sauvignons are much disliked. These wines are viewed as a mid-price luxury for the masses, which they are, but undeserving of their status because they are so heavily laden with American oak. I have a very small stash of Silver Oak and have brought it to our Friday night tastings on occasion only to encounter scorn from the group. Thus I have become a closeted drinker of this wine, at home, alone with Julie my wife. Julie has actually taken quite a liking to them. She doesn’t mind all that American Oak, and is seduced by the smooth, silky texture of the wine. My approach to the wine is a bit different and yet the same: I also love the silky texture, and am willing to overlook the oak, which I consider a defect, for the texture.

I find Silver Oak to be a terrible food pairing wine. Traditional Cabarnet Sauvignon foods such as red meat do nothing but amplify the oak flavors. The wine does not have much acidity to complement food. Still it is a wonderful sipping wine. I love to knock out a bottle as an aperetif while we are barbecuing, and move on to a more food friendly wine while actually eating.

Recently my friend Steve Cottrell brought an ’86 Silver Oak to a blind tasting at George Heron’s. It was wonderful; quite alive. I didn’t know these wines had longevity. I don’t keep mine more than 5 or 6 years.

The current vintage of the Alexander Valley Silver Oak is out on the shelves. It is the 2005. I was down in the Monterey Peninsula this weekend and encountered it at $63 per bottle in Salinas, and $70 per bottle in Pebble Beach (no surprise). The best price was at K & L in San Francisco at $60 per bottle.

M Senegor