Jul 062014

Cabernet tasting

Hope everybody had a happy holiday weekend! Mine involved some much needed downtime, several really satisfying thunderstorms, revisiting an old favorite series on DVD, and feasting on these gorgeous plums:

summer plums

And then to cap off the weekend, a free-for-all grilling evening to go with a Cabernet Sauvignon tasting. I provided the wines and a couple of sides, and friends brought an array of grillable goodies to cook (themselves) to their liking. It’s a good way to entertain a crowd without working yourself to exhaustion.

Pairing: Cabernet Sauvignon

We tasted a wide array of Cabs, at a variety of price points. And I’ve thrown in a couple more that I’ve enjoyed recently. Cheers!

Concannon 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Livermore Valley Conservancy ($15). A lot of rich flavor for the money, with black cherry and blackberry jam flavors that stay ripe and round through the finish, picking up dashes of chocolate and baking spice along the way. Find it!

Ringbolt 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Margaret River ($19). Nice value here, with balanced, medium-bodied, fresh red berry flavors accented with sage, savory bacon notes, coffee and chocolate through the lingering, elegant finish. Quite appealing. Find it!

Ghost Pines 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa County-Sonoma County Winemaker’s Blend ($20). A perfect all-purpose, great-for-grilling Cab, with plush blackberry and blueberry fruit laced with toasty oak, vanilla, baking spices and a touch of chocolate. Find it!

Kendall-Jackson 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma County Vintner’s Reserve ($24). Yup, K-J. With structure and body, this affordable Sonoma Cab offers sleek tannins supporting ripe black cherry and currant fruit, with tobacco, chocolate, espresso and black pepper through the finish. Find it!

Balgownie 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Bendigo ($25). Deep, concentrated black currant, herbs, a dash of eucalyptus, and grippy tannins combine to make a wine that probably needs a bit more bottle age — or some decanted breathing time — to really come around. But shows a lot of promise — and at a great price. Find it!

Louis M. Martini 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley ($30). Very nice — with a touch more complexity than the Napa version, I thought. With black currant and blackberry fruit layered with dusty sage, cedar and spice. Bright, evolving finish was lovely. Find it!

Louis M. Martini 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley ($34). Rich, fruity, supple, lingering — and it’s ready to drink now. With blackberry, cassis, cedar, dried herbs and a touch of dark chocolate. Find it!

Amici 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley ($45). What’s not to love here? Aromatic, with ripe dark berry flavors laced with mocha, tobacco, herb, a touch of pencil lead mineral. With a long, complex, balanced finish. Should age beautifully but is also awfully good now. Find it!

Chateau Montelena 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Calistoga ($50). Still just a baby, with plenty of cellar potential. Showing structure and layers, with deep blackberry, cedar, dried sage and lavender, mineral, and more. Plenty of tannic grip at this point, to match the youthful, tightly-wound fruit. Should all smooth out and integrate over time. Give it another 10 years, at least. Find it!

Grgich Hills 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley ($60). Just textbook stuff here. Structured and cellar-worthy, but tempting now — particularly with a little decanting time. Features black cherry, cassis, licorice, espresso and a light touches of cedar and herb. Long, evolving finish. Find it!

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