Though warmer days are shifting palates from heartier wine to lighter, patio wine, I find there is always a desire to enjoy a big, bold glass of red wine…whatever the season. And I have tasted some exceptional ones lately. Here are a few ideas if you are looking to satisfy your palate, you won’t be disappointed!
Some were sent for editorial consideration, all are great!
FromSbragia, the Cabernet Sauvignon that Ed Sbragia is making is incredible. I am a big fan. The former wine maker for Beringer now has his own velvety smooth and succulent Cabernet from vineyards throughout Napa. A few of my favorites include the Cimarossa Cabernet Sauvignon, from vineyards on Howell Mountain at an elevation of 2100 feet. The 2007 is filled with lush blackberry, black plum and currant with a hint of black tea from a bit of Cabernet Franc added right before bottling. This is an expressive wine, very representative of the hands off approach Sbragia takes with all their wines. Another is the Rancho Del Oso Cabernet Sauvignon, another vineyard on the top of Howell Mountain, this time owned by the charming Betty O’Shaughnessy (another favorite Cabernet I have written about before.) She knows how to grow great grapes, which Sbragia then creates an intensely aromatic wine from filled with lots of red cherry, raspberry and chocolate flavors. They are not the least expensive wines, both retailing for about $75, but they are wines that will be a part of great memories.
Smart winemakers know the beauty of a blend, as each year you have the ability to change the percentages to ensure the best wine possible is created. Krupp Bothers “The Doctor” is a great example of creative blending. With 33% Merlot, 31% Tempranillo, 23% Malbec and 13% Cabernet Sauvignon, with 20 months of oak aging, this is a big wine from various areas inside the stellar Stagecoach vineyard of Napa. Not your typical blend of grapes either from Napa, but that is one of the reasons I like Krupp Brothers so much, you always get more than you would expect with a bottle of their wine. This one with wild flowers, bright cherry and spice with elegance,structure and balance, and a lingering finish.
Clos de los Siete is another blend that is done well from Michel Rolland, a wine making star throughout the world, as he either owns or consults with wineries throughout Europe, South African, South America and more. the 2008 Clos de los Siete features the star grape of Argentina, Malbec, with rich black cherry flavors, and adds the structure of Cabernet, subtle flavors of Merlot, smoked spice of Syrah and a touch of Petit Verdot to round out the wine. A solid blend year after year, and for a great price, usually around $20 a bottle.
Chappellet 2008 Signature Cabernet Sauvignon is a go to, consistent Cabernet from the heart of Napa Valley. Though young, this recently released wine has all the flavors I look for in a great Cabernet – lots of chocolate, licorice, cherry and plum with a hint of herbal and leather notes. The tannins are strong now, but not overpowering, and will soften a bit with a little age. This a great steak or grilled meat wine, great for upcoming deck parties.
I had a Syrah (not Shiraz) from Clarendon Hills Winery at the Reserve Tasting at Savor Dallas last weekend. The Australian winery is making a very Old World style Syrah, which is unlike many of the Shiraz wines from their neighbors, as this Syrah embraced the Old World, Northern Rhone style of wine making that really defines good Syrah in France. Though the grapes are the game, the style of wine making is different, with Clarendon Hills highlighting the terrior (or the land, the climate, the soil, etc) with the wine being made in the vineyard, instead of some approaches that focus more on the grape and the wine being created in the winery. The result of this Syrah is elegant, balanced and refined with subtle flavors of cherry, berry and a hint of smoke.