Thinking we were in for a heavy, tannic Cab, I reached to open the 2008 Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon  ($70) for a little office tasting. To our surprise, the wine was surprisingly mellow, with brandied cherries, cinnamon, and chocolate hitting the nose and palate. I was fully anticipating a mouth-puckering, fuzzy-sweater finish, but the tannin finish was velvety, leaving only a subtle trace of its presence behind.
Midtasting, I noticed something very rare take place: tasters lingered around the bottle, refilling their glasses with another splash until the bottle reached its last drop in record time, a clear indicator that the wine is worth its weightier price tag. I returned to my desk a little warmer — and with a greater understanding of the potential of an Alexander Valley Cabernet.