Despite being retired, The Wine Guy continues to work part-time in wine retail. Doing so keeps me connected with the wine consuming public and with the trade as well. The better distributors who supply the retail trade will regularly host wine tastings for key wine selling personnel to acquaint them with products. Recently, I had the opportunity to taste and sample a broad selection of wines being featured for the holiday season by one of my employer’s better suppliers: Republic National Distributing Company. (Event photo at left is The Wine Guy with Terry Faunce, Accounts Manager for RNDC/Arizona)
While enjoying a couple of very good cabernet sauvignons at that tasting, I was struck by how seldom I’ve blogged about this great grape on Roger’s grapevine. Cabernet Sauvignon is of course, one of most ubiquitous varietals in the wine world. While Merlot has recently surpassed it in total worldwide plantings and while Syrah is grown in a greater number of wine producing areas, Cabernet Sauvignon remains the king of red grape varietals. It is the most utilized singular red varietal and finds favor in a great number of the world’s most recognized and popular red blends.
Cabernet Sauvignon’s thick skin makes it adaptable to a number of growing conditions, provides ample and bold tannins that are conducive to good aging and flavor development. On the vine, it is somewhat resistant to rot and frost. It buds and ripens somewhat later than its frequent blending partners, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. It gives rise to a great variety of fruit flavors that can vary with the terroir in which it is grown and also change in expression with the degree of ripening employed by the vintner. It responds well to wood aging, primarily with oak, but also responds favorably to the chestnut and redwood aging that is practiced with it by some Portuguese and Italian producers. Fruit flavors from a good cabernet sauvignon cover a wide range from cranberry to raspberry, from blueberry to dark cherry to black current. The wine from this grape can evoke herbal elements that range from green pepper to mint and eucalyptus and even tobacco. In varying cabernets you find hints of coffee, cedar, leather, vanilla mocha, and much, much more. No wonder it has become a favorite of winemakers and wine sippers alike. It is a versatile and flexible varietal that can be the source for great wines to fit almost any type of wine preference.
Here are few recent Wine Guy samplings that are recommended as cabernet sauvignons that you might want to sample:
Alder Ridge Horse Heaven Hills Cabernet Sauvignon:
From one of the newer AVA’s in the U.S. northeast (established 2005) that is rapidly developing a reputation for great reds. This is a rich expressive wine with notes of black cherry and cedar and a lingering finish. The winemaker added small amounts of Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc to create a lot of nuances that you will thoroughly enjoy if you properly decant this wine.
Rutherford Ranch Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon:
This organic producer is located along Napa’s famed Silverado trail, the home of some fabulous California Cabernets. Initial notes of boysenberry and cranberry meld and blend into a toasty smooth caramel finish. This is the wine in our glasses in the featured photo at the left.
Chateau St. Michele Indian Wells Cabernet Sauvignon:
Another great northeastern treasure, this comes from the Columbia Valley’s Wahale Slope area. It benefits from some complimentary blending which includes Syrah, Malbec and Merlot. Look for some great dark fruit flavors with hints of vanilla and a caressing finish.
Santa Ema Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Maipo Valley Cabernet Sauvignon:
This is a consistently good Chilean wine. It offers blueberry, coffee and mocha. It was described by a California wine merchant as having the smoothness of Barry White performing in a sequin suit and that smoothness makes it a favorite of the fetching Mrs. Wine Guy.
There are always great Cabernets to explore. And recently, there has been a higher frequency of finding great cabs that rank in the high 80’s to low 90’s for under $25 (all the wines cited above fell in that category recently). Thanks Terry, for helping to remind me that good cabernets are worth seeking out! I hope each of you readers takes the opportunity to enjoy a cabernet sauvignon soon.