By Chuck Hill
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Wines of the Week Archive
Cabernet Sauvignon with Lamb & Beef
It’s a great time of year to pull the corks on some red wines and enjoy them with friends and fine food. Before we get into the recommendations, a few notes about successful red wine service and enjoyment.
Most red wines that you will be purchasing for near-term enjoyment need aeration. The traditional method for doing this involves opening the bottle at least an hour before serving and pouring the wine into a decanter (and back into the bottle with a funnel if you want to re-use the decanter for another wine). This gives the wine an opportunity to “breathe” and show more of its true character at mealtime. Many modern oenophiles use the Vinturi aerator with success, but there are also some that don’t believe this gadget works as well as traditional decanting. However you aerate, be sure to use glassware that provides enough space to swirl and sniff. For mealtime use, a glass with 15 to 20 ounce capacity allows for a 5 ounce pour with room to give the wine additional aeration by swirling.
Have a happy holiday season, and be sure to designate a non-drinking driver if you are party hopping.
This is probably Wade Wolfe’s finest Bordeaux-style blend to date. It is a blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% each of Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Merlot. It is not heavily oaked and lets the varietal character show through with complexity and finesse. Tasted next to the $200 Joseph Phelps Insignia, it showed very well in comparison. Look for aromas and flavors of dark cherry, cassis, floral perfume, smoky cedar and a soft finish of berry and vanilla.
The Harrison Hill Vineyard in the Snipes Mountain AVA is considered by many to be the second-oldest Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard in Washington State, planted in 1962. The vineyard is comprised of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot vines, which comprise the blend of this vintage (with 1% Petit Verdot added from Red Mountain’s Ciel du Cheval). Winemaker Chris Upchurch used a deft touch with the oak, adding layers of spice and leather over a base of bright cherry and cassis with notes of blackberry, pepper and coconut. Sold out at the winery, check your quality wine merchant for possible availability.
This impressive wine (the finest Grand Ciel released so far) is crafted
from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon grown in DeLille’s Red Mountain Estate
Vineyard of the same name. Like all of the finest Cabernet
Sauvignon wines, its strength is in structure and balance, but intense
and complex fruit tantalize the nose before the wine hits the palate.
One first notices black currant, blueberry and spicy pepper. These
yield to a panoply of aromas and flavors including blackberry, olive,
vanilla, citrus, chocolate and spicy cedar. It is intense with
superb mouthfeel and balance that carry on to the final sip – a wine to
Cadaretta wines is one of the Middleton family’s wine estates established in Walla Walla in 2005. The family has a long history in Washington forestry products, and the Cadaretta name is taken from one of the lumber schooners that carried timber from Washington to California in the 1920s and 1930s. Look for aromas and flavors of cherry and smoky cassis with a juicy palate rich with blackberry, spicy oak and balancing acidity.
The Waterbrook brand has experienced vast growth in the past few years, including the construction of a large winery facility on Highway 12 in Walla Walla. It is the flagship winery of Precept Brands, the largest privately owned wine company in the Pacific Northwest. The Reserve Cabernet offers ripe blueberry and cherry with ample accents of oak aging including spicy cedar, caramel and vanilla.
The Alder Ridge Vineyard is in the heart of the Horse Heaven Hills AVA which is located between the Yakima Valley AVA and the Columbia River. This blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot is sourced from the estate vineyard with just 5% of the fruit from the Wahluke Slope. Dark and brooding, the wine offers black cherry and plum with notes of cranberry, chewy coconut, spicy cedar and hints of herbs and earth.
In winemaker Pat Spangler’s lean style, this blend is very appealing as a Cabernet-based wine to accompany a meal. Showcasing cherry and berry fruit, it offers notes of spice, plum, smoky oak and hints of chocolate and olive – a nice pairing with our lamb and beef mixed grill.
Winemaker Spencer Sievers crafted this Cabernet from fruit grown at the Ash Hollow Estate Vineyard in the Walla Walla Valley. It is a finely structured wine showing aromas of raspberry, cherry and floral notes with notes of cedar and earthy mineral. The palate is rich with flavors of Bing cherry, toasty caramel and spice with fine tannins on the finish.
Genesis by Hogue
Conceived in 1997, Hogue’s Genesis wines had the goal of producing high quality wines that showcased the pure varietal flavors of Columbia Valley fruit. Today, these wines are often the standard of each vintage, appealing to wine consumers of all experience levels. Blackberry and black currant mingle with cocoa and toasty oak on the nose and the palate. Juicy flavors of berry and vanilla are a fine match for meats from the grill – good value.
Walla Walla Vintners
After 15 years as winemaking hobbyists in Walla Walla, Myles Anderson and Gordy Venneri founded Walla Walla Vintners in 1995. The winery and winemakers have grown and matured with each vintage and now proudly stand with the earliest Walla Walla wine pioneers as experts at their craft. Fruit for this Cabernet came from some of Sagemoor’s oldest plantings dating to 1972. Ripe cherry, blackberry and black currant lead the nose to a taste revealing a fruity palate edged with spicy oak, tobacco and sweet tannins.
Two Mountain Winery
The Brothers Rawn – Matthew and Patrick - are the owners and operators of Two Mountain Winery begun in 2002. This Cabernet Sauvignon was produced from fruit grown at their estate Copeland Vineyard in the Rattlesnake Hills area of the Yakima Valley. This Cabernet offers complex aromas of tangy berry, dried herbs, floral perfume and anise, leading to ripe raspberry and red currant flavors on the palate with notes of oak and vanilla on the finish.
This wine is the fifth dedication to Stan Clarke, renowned Washington State viticulturist, teacher and mentor to students of all ages. His favorite wine was Cabernet Sauvignon. Look for ripe aromas of cherry and cassis with notes of mocha, spicy oak and cola.
Bill Powers pioneered organic grape farming in the Columbia Valley, and the Badger Mountain organic bottlings remain a hallmark of organic, no-sulfite-added wines. The Powers wines are sourced from vineyards throughout the Columbia Valley and are not certified organic. The 2010 Cabernet offers blackberry and cocoa flavors and aromas with notes of baking spice and vanilla.
This blend of Bordeaux and Rhone varieties – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Grenache, Mourvedre and Malbec – offers interest and diversity to wine lovers. Showing aromas of spicy cherry candy and raspberry, the palate adds flavors of plum, cocoa and toasty barrel spice.
Tagaris Winery in Richland, Washington produces Eliseo Silva wines named after the longtime vineyard manager of their estate Alice and Arete Vineyards. These value-priced wines are excellent quality bottlings. This Cabernet offers bright aromas and flavors of cran-cherry, toast and vanilla with medium body and a soft finish.
Wines from other areas
Joseph Phelps Vineyards
Insignia is among the finest Cabernets produced in America with the first vintage produced in 1975. Superb estate grape sources and expert winemaking combine to make this wine one of the most sought after each year. The 2009 is a blend of 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Petit Verdot and 4% Malbec. Complexity and structure are excellent, offering aromas and flavors of black fruits, cassis, tobacco, spicy cherry, smoky cedar and hints of coconut. It is a superb accompaniment to lamb and steak from the grill.
Round Pond Winery
Round Pond Estate is in the heart of the Napa Valley and is owned and operated by the second generation of the MacDonnell family producing estate wines and artisan food products. The 2010 Cabernet offers excellent complexity and balance with aromas and flavors of cherry cola, dark fruits, olive, warm spices, vanilla and toasty oak.
Mount Veeder Winery
Mount Veeder’s vineyards are planted on the terraced mountain slopes at elevations of 1,000 to 1,600 feet above the floor of the Napa Valley. Three separate ranches are farmed in the thin, rocky soil, and the property owns the distinction of being the first vineyard in California planted to all five Bordeaux varieties. This wine is dense and concentrated, offering spicy dark fruits and cassis with notes of herbs and dark chocolate. The rich flavors and ample tannins make for a great pairing with lamb and beef.
Robert Mondavi Winery
This wine is sourced from Robert Mondavi’s famous To Kalon Vineyard in the heart of Oakville in the Napa Valley. Each vintage is aged in 100% new French oak with this year featuring a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Cabernet Franc and 7% Petit Verdot. Aromas of blueberry and pomegranate, with hints of black olive and mint, lead to a rich palate of dark fruits, toasty oak, coffee and cocoa.
William Hill Estate
The Silverado Bench of the southern Napa Valley is home to William Hill Estate which was developed in 1978 and offers a unique terroir for growing Bordeaux varietals. Aromas and flavors of cassis, dark cherry, sweet oak and vanilla are complemented by hints of eucalyptus, black olive and sweet oak.
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