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2002 Big Ass Cab, Napa

It's Wine Blogging Wednesday again, and this month's theme is Wacky Wine Names, hosted and invented by Chez Pim. I toyed with many options for a potential entry to this event, but ultimately, I was strolling through a deli up in Sonoma county when this wine's label caught my eye like one of those pointy hook latches that used to dangle from screen doors and would fly up whenever you banged the door open again.

The idea of big ass Cabernet is distinctly Californian, and frankly it's about time someone just put it on the label. big.ass.jpg If the Old World of Bordeaux is subtle and understated, like a mix of Glenn Close and Sophie Marceau, then California Cabernet generally falls somewhere between Bette Midler and Salma Hayek.

If you need further proof, just type in "big ass cabernet" into a search engine. You won't find this wine, but you'll find lots of other people applying the same adjective-noun phrase to California Cabernet.

Though grapes have been grown in California since the early 1800's, Cabernet was probably first brought to California at the end of the 19th century by several enterprising Napa vintners like the Beringer Brothers. These men took clippings taken out of the vineyards of Bordeaux and transplanted them to California, paving the way for Cabernet to be the most widely recognized varietal of California wines and for it to be planted to over 40,000 acres throughout the state by 1996.

In terms of particulars about this Cabernet, you might as well call it "Big Ass Mystery Wine." Why? Because if anyone told you anything about this wine, they'd have to kill you. I've made several calls to distributors around the country today only to come up with this: there really is no Big Ass Cab Winery, even though it says so on the back of the bottle. This is a virtual label. What does this mean? Well it means that if you want to have some wine to sell at a good price, and you know the right people to call (an anonymous bonded winery in Santa Rosa which can help you out) then you give them some money. They go out and buy excess wine on the market for you, from wineries who have more than they want. They stick it in a bottle, slap on the "Big Ass" label, and send it to you for a low low price.

I suppose you could have your own label if you want, but that takes a lot of money and time to approve with the government, so more than likely you're just willing to take the Big Ass and make it your own. What's more, you may not be the only person doing this. I have found out that there are at least 2 versions of Big Ass Cab. One for big.ass.notes.jpg Colorado and one for California. They both look exactly the same, are labeled exactly the same, and are the same vintage, but the juice that fills them comes from two totally different wineries and vineyards.

All of this would normally make you avoid this wine like the plague. The problem is, it's actually good. At least the California stuff is. Whoever is buying the juice has gotten their hands on some decent stuff. I managed to get a hold of the distributor in Colorado who commissioned a lot of the wine for themselves to sell to restaurants and retailers and he was able to tell me that the Colorado juice is from a Napa winery and it is normally bottled as their "Estate Reserve" wine. I suppose we can imagine the California version is somewhat similar. Unfortunately I was unable to get the information today on which winery in Santa Rosa actually makes the stuff.

Regardless of the mystery behind where it comes from and how it's made, it's drinkable fun, and if you see it on the shelf somewhere at a reasonable price, why not?

Tasting Notes:
This wine is a deep garnet in color with good extraction. Its nose is full of tobacco, cherry preserves, and vanilla flavors with a hint of cola that emerges as the wine opens up. In the mouth it has dominant flavors of black cherry, with a hint of English Breakfast tea. It has a nice mouthfeel, a perky balance, and very little tannin. The bottle says it will age for a decade but this is really meant to be drunk now.

Food Pairing:
This is a great all around wine for those who want a "house" cabernet but maybe don't have kids of reading age yet. I'm headed out to grab a burger to bring home and have this one with lunch.

Overall Score: 8.5

How Much?: $16

No idea where you can buy it. Just keep an eye out for it, and its cousin, the Big Ass Zin.

Comments (53)

Lenn wrote:
01.26.05 at 1:27 PM

I have actually seen the Big Ass Zin here on Long Island...maybe I'll have to check it out.

enoch choi wrote:
01.26.05 at 1:34 PM

where in sonoma cty? never seen this ;)

Alder wrote:
01.26.05 at 1:55 PM

The deli? Was in Bodega Bay, CA.

Beau wrote:
01.26.05 at 2:40 PM

Never could a wacky wine name like "Big Ass Cab" be applied to so many fruit-bomb wines I've had over the past few years.



James Mitchell wrote:
01.26.05 at 6:08 PM

Another wacky name reccomendation would be the "sinister hand" a great wine by Owen Roe up in Oregon.

Bill Irvin wrote:
01.27.05 at 5:55 PM

I love the name!!! but I must agree with Beau. When is the last time you have had a BIG ASS CAB? The tannin is gone and the fruit of the loom guys are always partying in my glass these days.

jdog23 wrote:
01.29.05 at 10:14 AM

I've had this wine and it is fantastic. It was true to the name...It was a BIG ASS cabernet.

Ken Friedman wrote:
01.31.05 at 9:20 AM

On Big Ass Cab, the wine is blended and bottled by a licensed winery in Sonoma. While I'm not allowed to divulge the name of the winery, I can tell you that as the exclusive retailer in New Jersey, this wine has been sold out within weeks of delivery to our stores. We get it in and within 30 days it's gone. Something must be right. I think the good news is that all winerys have overproduction that they have to convert into cash at some point. The people that bring us Big Ass have the opportunity to taste and pick the best available, rather than be forced to bottle what they had produced last vintage.
By the way, the Colorado distributor is selling the same wine from the same winery.

Tenndog wrote:
02.05.05 at 4:49 PM

All over Beale Street in Memphis there are signs that read: "BIG ASS BEER TO GO DOLD HERE." :)

Tennndog wrote:
02.05.05 at 4:50 PM

Oops, make that SOLD HERE.

Second glass of Andrew Will 2001 Seven Hills Merlot to blame....and it won't be the last tonight!

Alder wrote:
02.05.05 at 4:55 PM

:-) I highly encourage drinking while surfing the Web. Thanks for the comment.

Ken wrote:
02.07.05 at 1:21 PM

As a follow-up to my last e-mail, Big Ass Cab was just awarded a double gold in the San Francisco Chronicle 2005 wine competition. This was for the catagory over $18.00. Not bad for a Big Ass.

Steve wrote:
02.17.05 at 11:22 AM

You can find it at ABC Fine Wine & Spirits throughout Florida. $13.99 a bottle. Next month they will have the Zin as well.

Steve wrote:
02.17.05 at 8:51 PM

Actually, I just found out that ABC is the EXCLUSIVE carrier of Big Ass Cab in the state of Florida. NO other wine retailers have it. Theres over 200 ABC's in Florida...just goto abcfws.com to find one near you (if you're in Fla), and if they dont have it in stock, they can order it.

Kathy wrote:
02.20.05 at 4:35 PM

we found the Big Ass Cab in St. Augustine, FL today.

Linda wrote:
03.05.05 at 7:06 PM

BIG ASS CAB_ I found this wine in Nj @ Bottle King and it sells pretty fast. It is a great wine. Can't get enough of it, whom ever makes it.

shunt wrote:
03.09.05 at 7:14 AM

Available in Kansas City, Missouri at Hy-Vee grocery stores

Kory wrote:
03.11.05 at 1:04 PM

does anyone know where to buy big ass wines in wisconsin, or better yet a wholesale distributor? I first had Big Ass Zin in Colorado. Great wine. Thanks

JWhite wrote:
03.18.05 at 9:39 AM

I painted a commission painting about thee years ago, my customer wrote me about the wine since my painting was very close to the Big Ass Lable above. I paint ladies and gentlemen with large butts dancing etc. This is my forte' so naturally, I'm interested in this wine. What a hoot! Can't find it in Fort Worth, Tx. If you know where I can get it here let me know. Thanks

LK Robbins wrote:
03.27.05 at 6:34 PM

Any ideas where (if) the Big Ass Cab is available in Phoenix, AZ, thanks in advance I am dying to try this stuff

Anna Koelsch wrote:
06.03.05 at 9:02 PM

Don't know how you do your research, but the Big Ass Winery is part of Adler Fels in Sonoma. I did a tasting at the Wine Room on Highway 12, across from the Kenwood Winery. No big mystery....great cab and lots of fun. The Zin and Chard are also very good, but were not available to buy. They don't produce a lot and have not entered the market in many states. You can contact them through the Adler Fels website. Well worth your effort. Enjoy!

Alder wrote:
06.05.05 at 9:38 AM


Thanks for the info. It was a rhetorical question I'm sure, but since you asked: I do my research online using Google and when that turns up nothing, as it did for this wine when I reviewed it, I start calling people and asking them. In this case I found a restaurant that carried it and got in touch with their wine buyer, who put me in touch with a distributor, who gave me the information that I presented here.

Of course, it's so much easier to just walk into a tasting room and find it ! That's great to know.

For anyone who wants it, here's the Adler Fels web site. (Though it contains no mention of this wine).

Richard wrote:
06.17.05 at 9:56 AM

Great wine I found it in ledyard connecitcut at Bears Place sort of go together dont they?

RadioKirk wrote:
07.12.05 at 3:59 PM

David Coleman of Adler Fels is indeed the man behind Big Ass Cab; I got the impression when speaking with him last month that this was a personal venture, not a part of the Adler Fels line.

Hope that clears up a few things

Ron, Santa Rosa, CA

Marika wrote:
07.30.05 at 1:17 PM

Where can i find this wine in Montreal, Quebec, Canada? i loved this wine when in NYC and i have not been able to find it here.

RadioKirk wrote:
07.31.05 at 9:25 PM

Okay, I sit corrected. The web site is up at http://www.bigasswinery.com/ and the first thing you see is "Adler Fels".

Ron, Santa Rosa, CA

julie wrote:
08.07.05 at 10:01 AM


Felt in love with the the Big ass Cab but cannot find it nowhere...I live in Montreal, Quebec Canada if not available in quebec state maybe in Ontario..please someone let me know!



Robert Loll wrote:
09.07.05 at 10:02 AM

The '03 Big Ass Cabernet is available at the Wine Room in Irvine California.

kym wrote:
10.14.05 at 3:37 AM

For anyone who cares, Big Ass Cabernet is available in Phoenix at AJ's Fine Foods - Val Vista.

Sue wrote:
10.29.05 at 1:06 PM

I purchased Big Ass Cab at a great little shop in Mankato MN called "Wine Styles"

Blue wrote:
10.31.05 at 4:44 PM

I have been drinking Big Ass Shiraz from Australia for in oklahoma for a little over a year now. It is one of the best shiraz' you can buy at a decent price. I was wondering if anyone else had heard of this and if they might know where to get it in CA (for I have moved). Please email if you know.

Bill Boner wrote:
11.27.05 at 4:29 PM

Had a bottle with my Thanksgiving dinner. Loved it. You can find it at Henry's on the upper westside of manhattan (105th St.)

RadioKirk wrote:
01.01.06 at 7:43 PM

Blue: The winery says there is no Big Ass Shiraz. You're probably thinking of Fat Bastard Shiraz, which indeed is from Australia.

01.10.06 at 9:20 PM

Another Big Ass that's great is the one from the Milano Family Winery. Their Risque Rose (served very chilled) is excellent (and I'm usually not a fan of rose).

blue wrote:
02.09.06 at 3:09 PM

there is Big Ass shiraz.. it's from Australia..it's not from the same manufacturer.


I just can't find it in CA.

Paul Wooller wrote:
02.10.06 at 6:52 PM

Spent my whole life growing up in Sonoma, CA 95476, but never saw this wine while living there. Now reside in Scottsdale, AZ and found both "big ass zin & cab", love em.


cj22 wrote:
03.07.06 at 6:55 PM

Found Big Ass Cab in a small store in Cooper City, Florida (Fine Spirits in Countryside Shops on Flamingo Rd). ABC is not exclusive. Paid $15.99 but didn't have to travel to ABC.

edmaister wrote:
03.21.06 at 6:44 AM

I found this wine to be very smooth and delicious. I bough it at Cork and Bottle in Miami, FL (about $15.00)

RadioKirk wrote:
03.31.06 at 12:01 PM

Okay, thanks, blue. I didn't find that when I searched before so, naturally, I called Adler Fels, which doesn't make it. :)

Jamie wrote:
04.17.06 at 6:27 PM

saw it at winestyles in west palm beach florida. I am actually in LOVE with the artwork. Can anybody tell me who the artist is and how I can see more?

Jean wrote:
06.11.06 at 12:07 PM

I'd like to get a poster of the painting that the label was made from.
Do you have any available for sale?

Alder wrote:
09.18.06 at 8:44 AM
Kristy & Rob wrote:
04.22.07 at 3:38 PM

We love this wine too (the CA version)! The label AND the wine! We've been trying to find it for over two years - since we first encountered it just outside of Syracuse NY in the summer of 2004. Some little place called "Wanda's Wine Shop" - we think! If anyone every does find it again, please let us know.

edehart wrote:
07.27.07 at 6:01 PM

Again, trying to find this wine in northern NJ. Not at Liquor Factory at all, out of their computer, said they did not have a call for the CAB. Can you imagine? Anyone info please let me know, its a gift for someone.

Suzy wrote:
08.26.08 at 7:15 AM

I am the artist of the Big Ass wine label series. You may view the art of all 4 labels at my website, www.suzysansom.com. It's always great to hear from Big Ass fans!

Brian wrote:
10.16.08 at 4:53 PM

Excellent wine. I found it at The Cellar Wine Shop in Fountain Valley, Ca. (714)378-8900

12.08.08 at 1:43 PM

Found the 2005 Cab at Grocery Outlet in Novato for about $5-- not a bad deal at all!

Sandy Smith wrote:
12.17.08 at 9:28 AM

Big Ass Cab found in Wisconsin at Savoir Faire
Greenway Station

ken wrote:
01.24.09 at 4:23 AM

Big Ass cab can only be found at Bottle King in NJ......and it's great

bruce wrote:
07.14.09 at 3:14 PM

KABOOM is the second label, SAME WINE sold at TOTAL WINE AND MORE goto totalwine dot com to see if there is a store in your area.

I have been to Adler Fels winery on a business trip and can attest to their quality.

They do many "control" labels

john barber wrote:
07.15.09 at 10:19 AM

adler fels winery claims big ass cab as thier own. check out www.adlerfels.com

Ken wrote:
07.15.09 at 12:43 PM

Bottle King is the only seller in New Jersey. ABC in Florida, Specs in Texas, and Applejacks in Colorado also carry the wine. Adler Fels does not own the wine. They are only the negotiant as stated on their web page. Big Ass does not have a 2nd label.

11.10.14 at 10:15 AM

Hi to every one, the contents present at this website are really awesome
for people knowledge, well, keep up the good work fellows.

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