By Chuck Hill
Wines of the Week Archive
The origin of Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines is in the Bordeaux region of France where the five major red Bordeaux varieties are often blended together to add complexity and structure to the finished wine. These varieties are: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot. Some of my recommendations for your holiday table are blends and some are 100% Cabernet Sauvignon – both styles are very compatible with beef roasts or preparations of lamb.
Suggestions for wine enjoyment include serving the wine at 68 degrees F. or above (not at cellar temperature of 55 degrees) and decanting the wine for aeration an hour before serving. These are young wines and need a little warmth and oxygen to show their stuff.
The winery acknowledges a 1% portion of Merlot in this wine in addition to 99% Cabernet Sauvignon. Does it make a difference? Winemaker Paul Golitzin obviously thought so! Our top-scoring Cabernet this week, look for rich aromas of cassis, black cherry, toasty espresso and chocolate. The palate is long and generous with ripe black currant, caramel, spicy oak and vanilla.
Winemaker Chris Figgins crafts the winery Reserve as a blend of greater scope than the Cabernet Sauvignon-labeled wine reviewed last week. This blend of 69% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% each Petit Verdot and Merlot, and 9% Cabernet Franc shows the additional complexity available in this larger varietal mix. Aromas of cassis and cherry mingle with floral and citrus notes with edges of dark chocolate and spicy tobacco. The palate is rich and long-opening with jammy black currant yielding to cocoa, lilac, mineral and spicy oak on the finish.
Harrison Hill is the second oldest (modern day) vineyard in Washington State. Located halfway down the Yakima Valley, it has produced remarkable wines for decades. Winemaker Chris Upchurch crafted this superb bottling from a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. Aromas of ripe plum and blackberry, with notes of earth, cherry and fresh herbs, lead to an elegant palate with flavors of plum, black cherry, cedar, black fruits and spicy oak – delicious with lamb or beef.
L’ Ecole No 41
Marty Clubb’s red blend from Pepper Bridge Vineyard includes 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, 8% Malbec and 3% Cabernet Franc. Intriguing complexities on the nose include black cherry, field flowers, bacon, dried herb and cocoa. The palate adds flavors of plum, lavender, baking spices and vanilla. Very complementary to herbed lamb chops.
Where else can you find an enticing Cabernet Sauvignon for $15? Blended with a little Cabernet Franc, Syrah and Malbec, the wine was aged in French oak (40% new) for 18 months. Aromas and flavors of dark fruits, earthy herbs, anise spice and vanilla make for a tasty companion to your Christmas roast or leg of lamb.
Cliff Creek Cellars
Cliff Creek Cellars is located in Carlton, Oregon, though the Garvin family’s vineyard is near Gold Hill in the Rogue Valley AVA of Southern Oregon. This rich and spicy Cabernet shows aromas of earthy dark cherry, black currant and vanilla. On the palate, dried herbs and cran-cherry flavors are complemented by barrel spice and creamy berry.
The Hogue Cellars
The Hogue Cellars’ fruit forward line emphasizes clean varietal character offered at a value price. This Cabernet Sauvignon delivers aromas and flavors of ripe cherry and plum, baking spice, vanilla and notes of toasty oak. It is a great wine to enjoy with friends over an informal holiday meal.
Paul Portteus planted his first Cabernet Sauvignon in 1981 in his original 8-acre vineyard in the Rattlesnake Hills when Washington State had only 13 wineries. Today he has many more acres of vines and crafts a wide variety of estate wines. This elegant Reserve Cabernet offers ripe plum and black cherry aromas with floral and citrus notes leading to rich flavors of berry, vanilla, caramel and toasty oak.
aMaurice Cellars is the project of the Schafer family – fifth-generation Washingtonians who dedicate the winery to the late family patriarch Maurice Schafer. Maurice and his family established the first registered evergreen tree farm in the United States in the 1940s. Winemaker Anna Schafer crafted this flavorful Cabernet blend from 44% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Cabernet Franc and 26% Merlot. It is named for Mark Tobey, early Northwest artist. Look for aromas and flavors of black cherry and blueberry with floral notes and hints of green olive and dried herbs – tasty with lamb chops and other holiday fare.
I have told the tale previously of the Middleton Family and its early Washington history, along with its more recent transition into the wine business. The premium Cadaretta brand features wines crafted from noted Columbia Valley vineyards, including this 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon. On the nose: a fruit bowl of ripe plum, berry and cherry with hints of bay leaf and vanilla. On the palate: flavors of cherry and raspberry with rich toasty cedar and tobacco on the finish.
The fourteenth vintage of Dunham Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon is crafted from 100% of the named varietal from grapes grown at: Lewis Vineyard in the eastern Yakima Valley; Wallula Vineyard near Kennewick; Frenchtown and Double River Vineyards in Walla Walla. This intense wine offers aromas and flavors of ripe cherry followed by notes of blackberry, anise, cassis and vanilla. Toasty oak and ample tannins demand that you pair this bottling with rich meats and hearty sauces.
Chateau Ste. Michelle
The 35-year-old vines at Cold Creek Vineyard never fail to provide quality fruit that makes quality wines. This intense and nearly pure Cabernet Sauvignon (1% Merlot) is a big wine showing more of its 82% new-oak aging than is usual for a Cold Creek wine. A little further bottle age should round out the toasty, caramely edges – buy some to drink next Christmas. Look for aromas and flavors of blackberry, dusty earth, dried herbs, cassis, caramel and toasty oak.
A click on the webcam link at Maryhill Winery’s website shows a dusting of snow and commensurately cold temperature, but inside the tasting room you can sit at a fireside table and savor a sip of this tasty Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. Aromas of smoky cassis and berry with hints of lilac and vanilla lead to flavors of black currant, plum and toasty cedar with elegant floral-vanilla on the finish.
This blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot is ready for you to pull the cork at your holiday dinner. Soft and sexy, it offers subtle aromas and flavors of cherry, blueberry and plum with notes of baking spice, floral perfume and dark chocolate. There is just enough stuffing to stand up to your richest meats and sauces.
Jeff and Sheila Jirka are busy, successful people who, in planning for retirement, decided to try winemaking and winery ownership. As successful people do, they studied, prepared and executed plans to create their winery, Davenport Cellars. One of their most successful wines has been the Bordeaux-style blend R.H.D. The 2008 edition is crafted from 53% Merlot, 27% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Cabernet Franc, 7% Malbec and 2% Petit Verdot, offering aromas and flavors of plum and berry with notes of spice, cocoa and toasty cedar - great with your favorite meaty dinner entrée.
From the Southern Oregon department of Willamette Valley Vineyards, Griffin Creek Cabernet Sauvignon has everything needed to compete with the finest reserve wines crafted anywhere in the Northwest. Jammy black currant, cherry cola, vanilla and cedar greet the nose, while the tongue enjoys flavors of blackberry, smoky earth, black cherry candy and juicy cassis. Roast the goose, grill the lamb, celebrate!
Walla Walla Vintners
As long as you have the goose and lamb on the table (see above), join Myles and Gordy in pulling the cork on their rich and powerful Cabernet from Sagemoor Vineyard. Superb structure and ample complexity from toasty oak follow the winery’s success formula. Look for aromas of blueberry and herbs with notes of toasty cedar, coconut and vanilla. The palate is rich with a basket of berry flavors and a spanking of spicy oak on the finish.
Wines from other areas
Joseph Phelps Vineyards
Following up on the luxury bottling of Insignia reviewed last week, don’t be shy about trying this Cabernet with a touch more Merlot in the blend to round out the aromas and flavors. Aromas and flavors of earthy cassis, plum and baking spice mingle with spicy oak, pencil lead and light tar and floral notes.
Mount Veeder Winery
High in the Mayacamas Mountains above the Napa Valley, Mount Veeder Winery has been producing superb red wines for almost four decades. It is a winery that we curmudgeons coveted in our youth, and this Cabernet renewed our appreciation for well-made wines. Layers of black fruits, toasty dried herbs, spice and vanilla lead to ripe dark cherry flavors with notes of tobacco, chocolate and smoky cedar.
The tech sheet for this wine reveals a secret in the blend that once again stimulates a positive response from the curmudgeons on the tasting panel. The non-Bordeaux style accompanying grapes of Petite Sirah, Syrah and Carignane hark back to the days when California wines were built for power and grip. Delicious and affordable, the wine offers aromas of red cherry, raspberry, plum, toasty oak and vanilla. The palate of dried cherry and currant finishes clean with herbs and vanilla – superb for hearty meats and sauces.
Grgich Hills Estate
The Grgich Estate vineyards in Yountville and Rutherford are also certified as organic and Biodynamic, keeping pace with PC trends in the wine industry... having a good wine is nice, too. As the winery starts out suggesting duck and lamb as the appropriate celebratory accompaniments, I hardly need to say more. Look for aromas and flavors of blackberry, anise, dark chocolate and fresh herbs, along with excellent structure and balance.
Complexity and balance have always been hallmarks of Cakebread Cellars
wines. This vintage of Napa Valley Cabernet includes small amounts of
the other four classic Bordeaux varietals and makes its case in a
refined, feminine style. Aromas of blackberry and boysenberry mingle
with earthy oak and cherry candy. The palate delivers what the nose
promised plus velvety tannins and a lingering finish of cherry and
# # Copyright
© 2012 Chuck Hill
© 2012 Chuck Hill