BRUNELLO’S NOSE KNOWS….
In light of the tragic wild fires burning in Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino, we are going to honor some Cabernet Sauvignon grown in California. One of the world’s top selling varietals, it is grown in nearly every corner of the world, from South America to Canada. We focus on California, here at Ed’s, as that seems most popular. The varietal originated in France and stands as one of the Noble grapes of Bordeaux – which also include Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot, Malbec and Carmenere. Recently, it was discovered that Cabernet Sauvignon is actually the offspring of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. In 1996 researchers at UC Davis in California used DNA to identify the parentage. It was believed to be a chance crossing some time during the 17th century in southwestern France. The grapes are hardy, thick skinned and grow well all around the world, but have flourished and put the state of California on the world stage for Cabernet Sauvignon wines of quality and age ability.
“Cab is King” as they say, with Napa, CA being one of the most expensive appellations (wine growing regions). Having Napa Valley or Napa County on the label tends to make that bottle more expensive because of the quality as mentioned above. Since the 1960’s Napa was producing world class Cabernet wine and giving Bordeaux a run for its money, and they haven’t looked back.
Sonoma is also garnering fame, ratings, and American consumer attention for their wonderful Cabernet Sauvignon. Knights Valley, Alexander Valley, Dry Creek, Bennett Valley and Chalk Hill are but a few.
French winemakers, as well as some Americans, have begun investing in planting Cabernet in Chile and Argentina. The grape does well in many diverse climates. Almost always blended with other Bordeaux varietals in France, California winemakers also tend to blend at least some Merlot, Petite Sirah or Syrah into their Cabs. The rule is there must be at least 75% of the grape in the bottle that is identified on the label. Remember, in France, wines are labeled according to their Region and then their Chateau name; often you won’t see the grape varietals mentioned at all. The French have a stricter government classification system than we do here in the United States, based on geography. Our classification system is growing with the addition of Appellations and sub Appellations, and the discovery of micro climates and site specific terroir.
Our thoughts are with our friends who have lost their homes, many wineries have burned to the ground. The majority of harvest was complete before the fires started burning in Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino Counties, so juice that is fermenting in tanks may not be affected by the thick smoke that hangs in the air. It will be interesting to see and taste these wines once this vintage is produced and bottled. In the meantime, here are a few of our favorites; wineries who have come to Ed’s and personally met with us, or have done tastings and events. We are wishing them, their families and employees well.
Alexander Valley Vineyards “Schoolhouse” Cabernet Sauvignon
This reserve wine from AVV in Sonoma is aged in French oak for 24 months. Aromas of cassis, vanilla and chocolate, with hints of eucalyptus fill the glass. This wine will age and get better for years to come.
Alexander Valley Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon
The baby brother to the “Schoolhouse” this Cab is a top selling wine year after year. Winemaker Hank Wetzel has visited Ed’s many times, and we love this medium bodied, smooth structured Cab for an everyday value wine.
Hess “Allomi Vineyard” Cabernet Sauvignon
The Allomi Vineyards site is located on slopes just below the winery on Mount Veeder. The wine is full bodied but smooth, aged in American oak. It boasts flavors of blackberry, red currant and spice. The Hess family winery took a big hit a few years ago when Napa was struck with an earthquake.
Raymond “Sommelier’s Selection” Cabernet Sauvignon
This unique Cabernet is a blend that is put together by some of America’s top restaurant sommelier’s who are featured on the back label. Jean Charles Boisset is the owner, and has done several events with us here at Ed’s over the years.
Red fruit flavors, raspberry, currant and dark plum. This wine never disappoints, sourced from Napa, Sonoma and Lake Counties.
Rombauer Cabernet Sauvignon
Located in St. Helena, the Rombauer family Cabernet has been a staple since 1980. Sourced from Stags Leap, Atlas Peak, St Helena and Calistoga, these areas were hit the hardest by fire so far. Rombauer Napa Valley Cab is dark purple with aromas of cherries, blackberries, plum and rosemary, with hints of tobacco. KR Rombauer has visited our market many times, and just last year Alan Cannon, Rombauer’s director of Education did a tasting with us.
Buena Vista “Chateau BV” Napa Cabernet Sauvignon
The Buena Vista Winery is located five minutes from Sonoma’s Plaza Square, and as of this writing they were barely saved. The original stone building is still intact but many other buildings are still in harm’s way. The famous “Count of Buena Vista” has visited with us many times, and this special selection Cabernet is made in Sonoma at the winery with Napa Valley grown grapes. This wine is rich and opulent with flavors of black cherry, violet and hints of vanilla and spice. Wine Spectator loved it with a score of 92.
Hill Family “Barrel Blend”
We carry several of the Hill family wines and Ryan Hill was here a little over a year ago. He and his family evacuated to South Carolina and a skeleton staff remains at the winery. Their harvest is in, and secured below ground. We love the “Barrel Blend”- named for a surfing term, the inside of a wave is called a barrel, this blend is Merlot, Zinfandel, Malbec, Syrah, Petite Sirah and Cabernet, with some Pinot Noir and Sangiovese thrown in just for fun! There’s loads of red and black fruit, with a long, lingering finish.
Let’s help support our friends in California who make some incredible wine!
By Brunello Giancola as told to CRBrown