Earlier this year I bought the introductory case of the Wall Street Journal Wine Club (www.wsjwine.com). My goal on this case was to carefully consider each wine with contemplative tastings using worksheets and fancy wine jargon. This goal would leave anyone paralyzed by over-ambitious expectations. Last week, my husband helped me finally start the research with a simple inquiry; “So, when are we going to break into that research case?”
The first wine selected to taste was a 2011 Don Cayetano Cabernet Sauvignon from Colchagua Valley Chile. One things of note about Chilean wines and what I really like about them is that they are this nice balance between the old world and the new world. You get the big, bold wine with the tannins like we see in California, but also a subtlety and earthiness we get from France.
The smell of the wine filled the air as soon as I opened the bottle. It even overpowered the chicken that was baking in the oven at that time. Into the glass it went
We described the color as red violet. It was clear, but had a watery edge, which is indicative of its young age. The initial smell was very metallic – almost astringent, but that made way for black fruit, earth and stone. The fruit was definitely subservient to the pungent chemical and riverbed smell. Overall, it was pleasant and continued to mellow as we swirled it around in our glasses. Finally, we tasted it. It was full bodied and dry, but pleasant and straightforward. All in all, it was still too young and unbalanced in its youth, but it paired well with the savory dinner and continued to open and develop through the evening. I have another bottle I received with this shipment I look forward to opening in a couple years and comparing to these notes.
I have drunk probably hundreds of different Cabernets from many different countries. Cab is called the noble grape and it is the first thing that comes to mind when I think of wine. That being said, when I try to nail down qualities of what makes a Cab a Cab, I get stuck and unconfident in my own descriptors
In a nutshell, Cabernet Sauvignon is a classic grape that is grown all over the world. Climate and soil affects the outcome. Old World Cabs from France, etc. tend to smell and taste earthy; the fruit is subtle; and they have lower alcohol. New World Cabs are bolder, more fruit-forward and have higher alcohol. It is darker than most wines, but not the darkest wine. It’s also a medium to full-bodied wine, but not the fullest. It ages well, but many Cabs are meant to be drank young (2-5 years).
Working on this posting, has confirmed the importance of gathering a wine-tasting toolkit. I’m in the process of building one now that I hope will help me gain confidence in tasting and evaluating wines. It will be a work in process and undoubtedly require my clearing off some shelf space for resource materials. The materials from the International Wine Guild have been very helpful in this process as well as Madeleine Puckett’s blog www.winefolly.com. These as well as Wine Spectator’s Great Grapes series were resources for this posting.