I've been searching for a group of small production wines that I can serve at an upcoming big party for over 100 people. (It's a birthday party, but I've started to look at it as a testbed for picking wedding wine). I've settled on a Chardonnay and a Syrah, but I wanted to find something in the Cabernet or Merlot category that might appeal to red wine drinkers who were a little more mainstream in their tastes and who might not appreciate the fruit bomb of the Syrah. I also wanted it to not break the bank.
I did some asking around and came up with this nice little wine from Stephen Vincent. Like the Castle Rock Pinot I reviewed some weeks ago it is made from excess grapes and even excess wine (!) bought on the market and then consultant blended into a final product that like the Castle Rock is surprisingly good. Don't look for this to blow your socks off, but I'd bet in a blind tasting it would fare pretty well against some wines two or three times its cost and many times its reputation. It's a highly accessible wine, prompting one of my dining partners (a devoted Syrah fan) to claim it was one of the first Cabernets she's really truly enjoyed.
Blood red in the glass, this wine has a subdued nose of cedar, mushrooms, black tea, and red currant. The dry body of the wine has smooth tannins and very mellow fruit flavors dominated by young (unripe) cherry and red currant. Despite having some oak on it, the wine comes off as light, partially because of its acidity and also because of its low alchohol content (13%). It's very drinkable wine, but the flavor profile is overall a little flat, without the dynamism you would expect from a good Cab. In this way it is a little more like Spanish or Argentinian Cabernets that I have had -- mellow, earthier, and more linear.
I brought this bottle to a local Italian restaurant in my area, and was actually pleased at how it did with the flavors of the meal. Because of its lighter more earthy tones it complemented the slightly sweet tomato based sauces and garlic of the meal quite well. At home I'd serve it with an herbed beef stew or something that had a nice meat and sweet tomato and herb component.
Overall Score: 7.5/8
How much?: $9
A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. 2015 Roederer Award Winner.Learn more.
2016 Pinot Days Tasting: June 18, San Francisco I'll Drink to That: Danny Meyer of Union Square Hospitality Group Wine News: What I'm Reading the Week of 5/29/16 Vinography Unboxed: Week of May 22, 2016 Vinography Images: New Life Warm Up: The Soils of Alsace I'll Drink to That: Olivier Humbrecht of Domaine Zind-Humbrecht Warm Up: Prohibition I'll Drink to That: Winemaker Dan Petroski of Massican Wine News: What I'm Reading the Week of 5/22/16
Wine Will Never Smell the Same Again: Luca Turin and the Science of Scent Forlorn Hope: The Remarkable Wines of Matthew Rorick Debating Robert Parker At His Invitation Passopisciaro Winery, Etna, Sicily: Current Releases Should We Care What Winemakers Say? The Sweet Taste of Freedom: Austria's Ruster Ausbruch Wines 2009 Burgundy Vintage According to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Charles Banks: The New Man Behind Mayacamas Wine from the Caldera: The Incredible Viticulture of Santorini Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Chateau Rayas and the 2012 Vintage of Chateauneuf-du-Pape A Life Indomitable: The Wines of Casal Santa Maria, Portugal Bay Area Bordeaux: Tasting Santa Cruz Mountain Cabernets Forgotten Jewels: Reviving Chile's Old Vine Carignane The First-Timer's Guide to Les Trois Glorieuses of Hospices de Beaune