06.07.19 | Cabernet
In 17th century France, Cabernet Sauvignon was born out of an affair between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. It’s thick skin makes it hearty and durable against the elements. The tannins in Cabernet are rather plentiful which lends itself well to aging. It loves to be aged in oak, is full-bodied, and does better when paired with food than without. Grilled meats, tomato sauces, tagine, or a burger with bleu cheese is perfect with a Cab. It is one of the chief grapes in the famous Bordeaux blend: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot. Fun fact! Cabernet notoriously smells of green peppers. Why? It smells of green bell peppers because of the presence of the aromatic compound, methoxypyrazine, also found in green peppers.
The next Sipping with the Somm will be focused 100% on Cabernet. Amazing bottles will be opened.
Le P'tit Paysan Cabernet Sauvignon | Central Coast CA $22
One of my favorite little bottles in the cellar. I sometimes forget how great this bottle is and for the price point it is one of the best on the market. Perhaps this shines through for me because Ian Brand was the assistant winemaker at Bonny Doon and I am BD’s biggest fan. Le P’tit is a small producer out of the Monterey Bay area that has an abundance of rocky vineyards which has a high proportion of limestone. This is complex with minerality, baked cherries, green peppercorn, and a wonderful cocoa finish.
Leviathan Red Blend | CA $46
This is a notorious wine which is outstanding, especially for the price. This is a blend of Cab, Syrah, Merlot, and Cab Franc. Created each vintage, the grapes are sourced from some of the most coveted vineyards in California to produce this single wine. Teasing the nose with blackberry and wet slate, the palate comes alive with dark berries, vanilla, oak, and a touch of smokiness. And it has some of the best art work on a label out there!
Trefethen Cabernet Sauvignon | Napa Valley CA $55
In the heart of the Oak Knoll district in Napa, Trefethen has a terrific reputation for being a solid Napa Cab. A beautifully structured wine that was aged 18 months in French, American, and Hungarian oak, it shines through with red fruits and a delicate herbal character. Mushrooms and duck would make this wine off-the-charts-wonderful as the flavors of the food would bring out the spice and vanilla notes. Here’s a cocktail conversation starter: Sonoma Cabs are more rare because only 1000 acres are devoted to Cab growth as opposed to the 18k+ in Napa.
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Di Costanzo Cabernet Sauvignon | Napa CA $115
This was the first wine to hit our cellar that had any real substance; there is a place in my heart for this beauty. Mossimo Di Costanzo was the winemaker at Screaming Eagle 2006-07. His wines are beautiful because he limits the amount of manipulation during the wine making process: he harvests at moderate brix levels; ferments in small stainless steel vats, aging in mostly used French oak, and bottling without filtration. While this wine could cellar for another 10-15 years, if you are going to drink it now decant for at least 60 minutes and drink in large stemware. It’ll reward you with lushness and a long finish. Blueberry, chocolate, tobacco will hit the nose. The palate will be fruit forward, black cherries, rich cocoa, and earth.
Quintessa | Napa CA $230
There are some wines that are so synonymous with a grape and Quintessa is one of those wines; this is the quintessential Napa Cabernet. 2016 was a near perfect season in Napa with ideal weather conditions in the spring that lasted throughout the summer. With the cooler temperatures in August the grapes received extended hang time which creates a wonderful expression of the terroir. Cassis, red currant, a bit of rose, and rock on the nose. In a full glass that allows this wine to breathe, notes of tobacco and clove dance with the wine’s brightness. The fine tannins marry with dark chocolate, crushed rock, and dark berries. I wouldn’t open this wine until 2020 (almost there!) but it could cellar another 20 years.