Bates Ranch is widely regarded as the second best -- after Monte Bello, though some say it's *the* best -- Cabernet vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Ahlgren Vineyard is a 3,000 case winery above Boulder Creek that was founded in 1976, and has produced some of my favorite California wines of all times.
Garnet-hued, with slight bricking at the edge; decanted off the fine sediment. The bouquet is a forward, seductive blend of cherries, currants, saddle leather, vanilla, oak, pencil shavings, earth, and spice. All this is echoed on the supple, silky-smooth palate, which is at once elegant and layered with complexity; the finish is very long and flavorful. At nearly 15 years of age, this wine is at (or near) its peak, yet is in no danger of falling apart, as it continued to open and develop throughout the meal.
The wine -- almost like a cross between an aged Bordeaux (Graves) and an older Rioja -- was a perfect match to hangar steak, roasted asparagus, Israel couscous with green onion and mushrooms, and an heirloom tomato salad.