Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Cabernet Sauvignon - Head of the Class

I love Cabernet Sauvignon. It seems to be my "signature" wine and when in doubt - I go Cabernet. Now, its not that I don’t drink other red wines. I do. In fact, sitting on my kitchen island last week was a bottle of Cotes du Rhone and a bottle of Spanish Rioja. One likes to be prepared for visitors and most of all, my daily "heart medicine" as prescribed by the doctor (boy, was he preaching to the choir when he told me to start drinking a glass of red wine a day). I love the red table blends, cuvees and some of the hard to find single varietals like Malbec, but I usually find my way back to Cabernet Sauvignon.

Last week I had an opportunity to taste three newly released Cabernet Sauvignons that just happened to have a lot in common - all three Cabernets were produced in the Walla Walla Valley, all three are of the same vintage - 2005, and most of all -- all three Cabernets were produced by three winemakers that were my viticulture/enology classmates! It was exciting for me to taste their different styles and all three I recommend.

A true "509" wine (meaning all of the grapes are from the 509 area code - Walla Walla). This Cabernet Sauvignon was produced by winemaker, Troy Ledwick of Hence Cellars. At first glance of the bottle, as it was being poured, I noticed the thick glass and masculine style of the bottle that was appropriate for this masculine and hearty wine. Lots of dark fruit came through, as well of tones of dark cocoa. The tannins were definitely there, but not overpowering. A wine that I would be anxious to cellar, as I can image it is going to be very age worthy to the finest. Definitely a wine meant for pairing with beef.

Mostly "509" grapes (Pepper Bridge and Seven Hills), with a touch of Horse Heaven Hills appellation, went into this Cabernet Sauvignon made by Ryan Raber winemaker and owner of Tertulia Cellars. A touch of the Bordeaux-style with 12% Cabernet Franc and a touch of Merlot made this Cabernet Sauvignon full-bodied and very interesting. There were definite flavors of dark cherry, chocolate, spice and a bit of the cigar box. Soft tannins with a smooth finish that is going to pair quite nice with a variety of foods - prime rib to a meatball sandwich. This wine makes me think Black Forest chocolate cake with cherries - yum!

This is the second vintage of Cabernet Sauvignon for Jill Noble, owner and winemaker of Couvillion. And once again, Jill produces an elegant, yet full bodied Cabernet Sauvignon. Flavors of caramel, milk chocolate and a mouthful of blackberries make this wine definitely food friendly. We discovered exactly how food friendly the Couvillion Cabernet was as I enjoyed a glass outdoors paired with a beef Polish sausage on a sour dough bun and in the company of Jill and her husband Craig in front of a nice toasty fire. But honestly, although Craig grills up a mean sausage - I would suggest a smoky grilled hanger steak sprinkled with some bleu cheese. Cheers!

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