Bears & Cabs

The nickname for my dog is Bodhi Bear – Bear for short. So I was giggling when I saw this Toasted Head Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, which features a fierce-looking bear on the label (the same look my Bodhi has when she’s hungry).

Named for the traditional practice of toasting barrel heads and staves to impart a mellow, toasted flavor to barrel-aged wines, Toasted Head began making hand-crafted wines at the vineyards in the Dunnigan Hills of Yolo County, California in 1995 (lol, yes, YOLO).

The fire-breathing bear on the label was inspired by a drawing created by artist Robert Shetterly for a poem entitled “Speaking Fire at Stones.”

“…every one of these stones contains a bear. You just have to burn it free.” – William Carpenter, Speaking Fire at Stones

The mystery and wry humor of the bear, coupled with their commitment to winemaking, perfectly captured the Toasted Head state of mind.


They source grapes for their Cabernet Sauvignon from vineyards in Mendocino and Lake Counties and other select California vineyards that offer red volcanic soil and hillside growing conditions. Warm days and cool nights allow this wine to develop complexity and depth.

After a night harvest to make sure the fruit is cool when delivered to the winery, they cold-soak the fruit for 24 hours to extract the most color from the skins as possible and also to encourage the development of bright fruit flavors. After a 10-day fermentation in stainless steel tanks and a secondary malolactic fermentation, they age the wine for 12 months in a combination of new and used American, French, and Hungarian oak barrels.


The wine is deep, dark ruby in color and has long legs that slide down the glass slowly. I spotted some sediment as I swirled it around. It has a dark berry aroma with some spice on the nose. It’s smoother on the palate that it is on the nose, with more dark berry flavors, slight tannins, and vanilla. It felt kind of watery in my mouth, I wish it had a more velvety or silky mouth-feel. I paired it with a delicious plate of homemade spaghetti and meatballs. When I had a piece of chocolate for dessert, I then tasted more earthiness and oak in the wine. You can find it at most grocery stores for about $12. It’s a good value wine. 3/5.


Leave a Reply