2012 – A Great Year for Wine in Colorado Too!

Creekside Cellars 2012 Cab Sauv

Creekside Cellars 2012 Cab Sauv

For most of the world, including Colorado, 2012 was a good year.  The fruit was full and rounded.  Cabernet Sauvignon ripened well in the Grand Valley and this wine will serve to demonstrate how, even when it is vinified at a less than knock-your-socks-off alcohol (13.9%), it holds its fullness and typical profile, displaying all the flavors and structure you expect in a Cabernet Sauvignon.  Cab is not just a wine of power, as those familiar with New World Cabs are accustomed to.  Richness is not lost with finesse.

Cabernet can be a wine that on one end of the spectrum is distinctly herbaceous, lean, and supple, or a wine that is rich, fully showing its depth with dark flavors and reserved but polished refinement.  And then it can be big, powerful, a fruit packed bomb ready to fill your mouth with ripe denseness.  In all of its presentations it does not lose its character unless it is badly vinified.

This wine from Creekside Cellars follows the second description of finesse: rich and full, yet reserved and polished.  Dark cherry greets you on the nose dressed in oak flavors of clove, cedar, leather, and the whole cigar box scenario.  A little toast and allspice polish off its well integrated flavors.

All are held together by firm tannins and it keeps its pleasant balance from the start to its long, rich finish.  An excellent example of the noble grape and a wine not to miss.  At the wineries restaurant, it pairs very well with the beef sandwich.

In bottle now, it awaits its release and will be something to tempt you strongly.  I have no problem in recommending this wine to wine lovers and those who favor a wonderful Cabernet Sauvignon of subtle elegance and yet enough power to satisfy the potency lovers.  The PH is 3.49 and the TA is 7.3 grams per liter, which bodes well for a wine with a fresh backbone but, as you will find, also has a perfect balance while its viscosity and saturated flavors coat the mouth.

Rating 91+

Emotional rating:  Deeply satisfying without being over the top.  For me, a solid 95 points of pleasure.

Available from the winery, Creekside Cellars, Colorado.

Tamarack Cellars Has a “Harmonious” 2012 Cab Sauv

Tamarack Cellars 2012 Cab Sauf

Tamarack Cellars 2012 Cab Sauf

Tamarack Cellars Cab Sauv 2012

This wine exhibits, as do many varietal expressions of Cabernet Sauvignon, the harmony of flavors that this grape can achieve in the finished wine and in blending it with many other grapes.  Tamarack Cellars has chosen a traditional blend of grapes (86% is Cab Sauv, 8% is Cabernet Franc, and 6% is Merlot).  Bordeaux has it right when it blends Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and other grapes with Cabernet Sauvignon.  In fact, the addition of Syrah was a blend that was first used in the early days of Bordeaux.

Cabernet has backbone and muscle but lacks gentleness until age has mellowed its punch.  There is a richness in the mid palate of Merlot that seems to make Cab rounder and smoother, and it does the job in this Tamarack blend.  There is also a similarity with Cabernet Franc that can, in leaner years, add to Cab’s herbaceousness, but when harvested fully ripe, can blend and enrich Cabernet’s offering of blackcurrant as it seems to do in this example.

The winemakers have gone to great measures to preserve the individuality of each vineyard and variety to blend without first muddying the pool.  The result is a harmonious blend of flavors and texture that is to be celebrated in this wine.

The wine needs more age to show at its best.  Somewhat closed, a bit of breathing can help.  On the nose is the richness of vanilla, a hint of smoke at first, and fruit flavors that have married into a harmonious and glorious whole.  It is very complex and appealingly smooth, with fine but strong tannins that should marry more as it ages.  There is a little minerality and the acid is in beautiful balance to the point of it not being noticeable except for its mouth watering effect.  To me, this is acid balance in perfection.

Because of its harmony, this is a wine that does not stand up tall and say, “This is who I am,” but rather delivers a dose of complex pleasure and velvety softness that creeps up on you and creates emotions that are all to do with its soothing melody and its contrasting rich, complex power.

Rating:  91

Emotional rating:  Loads of soft-hued dark fruit and oak lusciousness.  The same emotions as when you fall into a feather pillow, but one well stuffed and firm as well as soft.

Available: from the winery.  Also try wine.com and/or wine searcher.com.

Another Style of Cab Sauv from the Columbia Valley

Alexandria Nicole A-squared Cab Sauv 2012

Alexandria Nicole A-squared Cab Sauv 2012

Alexandria Nicole  “A Squared” 2012 Cabernet  Sauvignon

Here is a Cabernet of a different style.  Just like in any wine, styles can change due to the terroir, the winemaking techniques and skills, and the design the winemaker has for the wine.  The grapes for this wine also came from the Columbia Valley area, but you should notice a difference from the Cadaretta wine.

This wine’s deep ruby and opaque core shows more aromatic impression on the nose than the previous wine and has a distinct rich and complex palate.  Blackcurrant and tobacco plus a slew of oak flavors and strong but fine tannins give the wine a serious attractive note and a promise of years ahead.  It’s balanced with a near perfect finish.  For all Cab lovers this is a wine to taste and savor.

This vivid, full-bodied, Horse Heaven Hills Cabernet Sauvignon is serious and loaded with tannin, offering impressive aromatics of currant and darker fruits, tobacco leaf and crushed herbs. Flavors of Rainier cherry, black olive, and cedar continue to gain depth and richness with time in the glass.

Cabernet’s distinct flavor profile creates a nose and palate that can be easily identified even under different treatment.  It can be styled without oak and in different climes and yet have a noticeable likeness to the left bank Bordeaux wines or a Napa Cabernet.  When in a blend, it easily dominates with its flavor profile and always adds a firm structure to the wine.  Cabernet is known for its more reserved but more complex aromas and for its dominant fruit flavor: blackcurrant.  When picked early, its herbaceous character can be dominant.

Now how would you describe its style?  Is it a style best with food or as a wine to enjoy and savor on its own?  Is it both?  What kind of food would it highlight and what food would  highlight it in turn?  Is it a deep dark style?  A warm rich style?  Where on a scale of white to black would you place it and what color could best represent its total characteristics?

Alexandria Nicole Cellars are a winery to watch.  Their 327 acre Destiny Ridge Estate vineyard sits high on bluffs in the Horse Heaven Hills overlooking the Columbia River, an ideal place for the Cabernet Sauvignon grape to show its possibilities.  The wine was aged 20 months in 50% new French Oak and 50% in 2 year old French barrels.

Rating: 93

Emotional rating: Because of its smooth yet rich appeal, let’s say for me 98

Availability: From the winery and in some states.  Try wine searcher.com.

Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignons — Elegant!

Cadaretta 2011, Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley

Cadaretta 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley

Cadaretta 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley

Cadaretta is a brand produced by Middleton Family Wines, who also produce wines under the label of Clayhouse and others.  The fruit is from the greater Columbia Valley, including vineyards in such notable areas as Red Mountain, Walla Walla, and Horse Heaven Hills.

Cabernet Sauvignon has often been called the “king of wine grapes” or the “king of wines.”  In  light of all the varieties that are being explored more intensely today, can it hold its place of honor?  In the next few articles I will explore Cabernet Sauvignon examples and both you and I will form our impressions of this noble grape and the wine it so consistently makes.

As we will find in this wine, the astounding concentration of phenolics (the color, flavors and other beneficial elements found in the skin) give to the Cabernet Sauvignon wine a reason to claim it is among the great wine grapes.  You may also notice that the vibrancy of fruit flavors are not necessarily its main appeal, rather the complexity and subtlety of flavors that develop from fermentation, aging in bottle, and its affinity to oak.  Oak flavors and composite flavors are as much on the nose as fruit flavors.  It shouts the word complexity.  This, however, is an expected mark of Cabernet.  As the years go by, these complex flavors will continue to develop and it is amazing how they evolve.  Wine lovers flock to Cabernet Sauvignon for its capability to provide such fusion of diverse tastes.  Cabernet displays best the continuing evolution of fermentation elements, maturation effects in oak, alcohols, plus oxygen’s subtle effect through the cork and the continual reinterpretation caused by the chemical changes in the aging process. Try a Cab aged for 20 or more years and see what I mean.  It gives true meaning to the phrase “wine is a living breathing thing.”

This transformation can be the metamorphosis of wonderful surprises.  I would suggest you get two bottles of this wine and drink one now and keep the other for 10 years to try again.  Letting a Cab breathe and sipping it over a period of hours will also give you an indication of its softening and changing behavior.  Drink it slowly and let it unfold.

This Cadaretta 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon is totally opaque and graduates from its almost black core to a rim of ruby touched with blueish notes that create a purple effect.  Cab should have structure, meaning a strong framework of acid, tannin, fruit to last, and alcohol in balance.  This one does!

Flavors of black fruits (blackberry seems to dominate) — black cherry, and the lighter edge found in blackcurrant fruit — create its base fruit palate that mingles with oak notes of dark chocolate, vanilla that is almost lost in the dark notes, spice, toast, and a hint of clove.  The mouthfeel is juicy due to a lively acid component.  The year was cool and the acids remained high.

This is a perfect example of a Cabernet Sauvignon in a warmer climate than Bordeaux and perfectly balanced.  This is also an example of a Cab that will stand tall with deeply flavored foods and creamy cheeses.

Rating: 92

Emotional rating:  The rating increases with rich and flavorful food rising to a great level of enjoyment.

Available:  From the winery and try wine searcher.com.

Ah! Chianti — The “Bordeaux” of Italy at a Bargain Price

2010 Lamole di Lamole Chianti Classico DOCG

2010 Lamole di Lamole Chianti Classico DOCG

Lamole Di Lamole, Chianti Classico, DOCG, 2010

Pasta and Chianti form a wonderful base for a good meal.  The seasonings that are added will match or highlight the wine or the food.  At $19.99, this is very affordable wine.  It has only been legal to produce a Chianti wine with 100% Sangiovese since 1995 and the trend has been in that direction.

Chianti has been called the “Bordeaux of Italy” and its rise in quality and distinctive flavors makes it a region and a wine that is sought after the world around.  Up to 15% can be Cabernet Sauvignon and the performance of Cabernet Sauvignon in the Super Tuscans indicates its affinity to the region.  Cherry, plum, and raspberry are expected fruit flavors, mellowed by the black tea aromas that can trend all the way to tar.  But this wine shows little of the raspberry and tends more toward deep, dark cherry and black tea flavors, as far as the fruit goes.

The name of this purple grape means “blood of Jove.”  The grape’s fresh fruity flavors of berries with a little spice is usually overlaid with oak flavors due to its affinity to oak and its ability to take on the wood’s characteristics.

Be prepared for savoriness and a vegetative wine with spice.  The vegetative character is more of leaves in a forrest that are spent but not yet decaying.  We expect high acid in a Chianti, although this one is medium in acidity with medium tannins.

Our taste of it suggests ripe dark fruit with leather and violets and, as the label suggests, autumn leaves in a toothsome texture with very acceptable tannins.  I really do get the autumn leaves.  Some who tasted with me detected a sweet dill latent in its nose.

The mouthfeel is soft and pleasant with the tannins and acid just a little dominant.  On the medium finish, the wine keeps up its flavor profile and emphasizes its umami character.  Such a change from the full, vibrant fruitiness of many reds in the same price range.  This wine is a strong contrast to a $16 Shiraz.  Try both if you are not familiar with the wines or just because you want to, if it pleases you.

Rating 88+

Emotional rating:  It needs food to rate as deeply satisfying and it is made for the food of the region.

Avialable:  at wine.com.