By Jeff Maisey

I’m normally a $25-$50/bottle wine guy at home, but during the festive fall and holiday season this year I’ve splurged a bit, and the upgrades have been noticeable. 

Moone Tsai

Howell Mountain

2018 Red Blend 

Napa Valley

Lynn and I recently hosted a couple at Chez Maisey for salad, homemade lasagna and Naas Bakery-made cannolis. 

Our friends are knowledgeable, appreciative red wine enthusiasts and planned to bring a bottle of Daou Soul of a Lion Cabernet Sauvignon. 

Seeking an on-par priced ($169-$175) bottle of red, I popped into Total Wine & More in Ghent. I’d been eyeing Orin Swift Cellars’ Mercury Head Cab for some time, intrigued by the old dime glued to the front of the bottle. 

A sales associate observed me looking over the bottle, and suggested Moone Tsai 2018 Red Blend Howell Mountain over in the climate controlled glass case, where high-end vino is carefully displayed. 

“If you want something interesting, consider the Moone Tsai Red Blend,” he said. 

Since I was splurging and always want to pick something from the expensive “cooler,” I agreed. A manager unlocked the case and walked the bottle over to the checkout lane. 

All I could think of was, “Wow, this must be a special wine.”  

Upon uncorking at home, all four of us commented we could smell the wine — it was that expressive to the quartet of noses gathered around the table. 

We gave it a few minutes to breathe before the moment of truth — the taste. 

Unanimous upon first drops consumed until the bottle was emptied, the Moone Tsai was complex yet balanced, dark fruit is obvious, and so very smooth. It’s a very “gown-up wine,” Lynn said. 

The blend is 54% Cabernet Sauvignon and 46% Merlot. It was aged 18 months in 30% new French Oak barrels. I loved the tannins both in my glass and bottom of the bottle at the end. 

Exceptional and sophisticated.  



Soul of a Lion

Cabernet Sauvignon


Paso Robles

You may have seen a Daou Cabernet Sauvignon on your grocery store shelf or at Costco. This is not that bottle.

The Soul of a Lion Cab comes wrapped in paper. You’re most likely to score a $175 bottle at a specialty wine store such as The Cheese Shop in Colonial Williamsburg’s Merchants Square. 

If you want to impress dinner guests, look no further. The complete, check-all-boxes full-bodied red is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s truly distinguished and stunning with a complex burst of berries, toffee, and spice. 

There’s so much going on within this liquid you may want to serve pre-entree as it will start a conversation and takes center attention. 

Elegant and stunningly delicious. 



Cabernet Sauvignon


Napa Valley

One of the things I enjoy most about Coach House Bar & Grill’s Wednesday Wine Night is discovering new vino at half-off. 

Such was the case when I ordered a bottle of Adaptation a couple months ago to pair with my ribeye dinner. 

The wine was ultra smooth and fresh in its subtle expression of plums, dark cherries, and blackberries. The color in more purple than red. 

Adaptation didn’t last long on the rotating menu, but I have since found it a area TASTE locations priced at $89.99/bottle. 

The silky Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa’s Odette family of wines is a step above Quilt, and I also prefer it to the mainstay version of Caymus, which is priced similarly. 

If you’re looking for a sure-to-please Cab at a slightly higher than average tab, give Adaptation a try.