euphoria, because they hosted three seminars in one afternoon. I started my morning with Bubblemania, (sparkling wines in all their glory) and then went upstairs to the Gold Room at the Westin Pointsett where J. Scott Carney, MS was going to talk to us about Cabernet Sauvignon.
When walked into the room, the tables were set and the wine was poured. The smell was incredible. Imagine hundreds of glasses of Cabernet Sauvignon wafting through an otherwise empty room. I watched as participants stepped through the entrance, stopped, inhaled, and smiled. It was a great reminder that enjoying wine includes taste and smell.
Scott has the presence of a college professor. (which is good, because he teaches at CUNY) Not the stuffy kind of professor that you dread, but the cool kind of professor that recommends movies "Bottle Shock. You can get it on Netflix"; and says things like "When I first read 'Long Live the King, J. Scott Carney', I though gee, thanks euphoria, but that is a bit much..." The group laughed along with him and then we got down to the business of Cabernet Sauvignon.
There were six glasses set before us:
Trig Point `08 $20.00 Diamond Dust Vineyard, Alexander Valley
A light wine with a very slight tannin, this wine was a good starting point. We tasted and discussed the changes in color that happen as a wine ages. We held this glass up and looked at the color. "Color loss begins at the rim" was what Scott said. It was a nice, easy to drink wine, with a good hit of blackcurrant, a classic Cabernet Sauvignon flavor. This wine still had its primary aromas; as it ages, secondary aromas will develop, creating the bouquet. This wine is a 10-15 year wine as far as drinkability. It will develop complexity in years to come, but it is also good to drink right now.
This was also a good time to start discussing ETOH content in wines. Did you know that "claret" the wine that I am often invoking when I write about Jefferson, was generally a low alcohol red wine. It was only 12% ETOH. Note to Self: I may need to re-do my presentation "Our Drunken Founding Fathers" and rename it "Our slightly tipsy Founding Fathers". Scott was great at putting into words how ETOH affects us "You can feel it in your chest and in your throat". He also reminded us that we were at a disadvantage, because "Cabernet needs food." We were tasting wine straight up, and the nuances really do develop better when they have other flavors to play with. Scott mentioned a nice steak and my mouth watered.
CrossBarn by Paul Hobbs `08 $39.99 Napa Valley
(96% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Cabernet Franc)
With the second wine, Scott discussed the wine maker as well as the wine. Paul Hobbs is a legend in the business. One of the "Flying Winemakers" he works his craft in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres because the Napa harvest is in October, and the South American harvest is in March.. Pretty cool to be doing what you love in two hemispheres and creating a great product along with it. This wine has a sweet smell. Scott pointed out the nostalgia in wine, "A sense of smell warps space an time". (see, I told you that he was like a very cool college professor! - well duh, he IS a college professor. I felt very lucky to be sitting in his "class"). CrossBarn is a rich wine, that brings a textural concept to the palate.
This is where we discussed tannins. "Tannins are the acid that put the breaks on". Again, we lamented not having a steak dinner in front of us, but I was learning so much! Tannins in wine set your palate for other textures. Imagine the contrasting fattiness of a nicely seared steak with a tight, fruity, tannic wine - I am sure you can.
Manifesto North Coast Cabernet Sauvignon `09 $21.00 North Coast AVA
This was a dry, light wine. ETOH 14.4%. "Pink on the edge, a very young wine" (By now, I was getting so good at looking at the edges of wine, I could snap a picture while holding!)
Château Sénéjac Cabernet Sauvignon`05 $30.00
Now to France, ancestral home of Cabernet Sauvignon, Bordeaux, Haut-Médoc. This was probably the closest resembelance to the "Bordeaux Claret" that I write about. It is a low alcohol (13%ETOH), spicy (baking spices - clove, cinnamon, nutmeg), subtle wine. With its age (`05), it is developing secondary aromas, cedar? menthol? To me, it was a very light wine, and a bit sour. But I am imagining that paired with the right food, this could be amazing.
Regusci Cabernet Sauvignon `08 $58.00
(92% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc)
By far, my favorite wine of the day. It was a full flavor, jammy wine, with a lovely "toasted oak" flavor (vanilla). And oh so smooth.... I just wanted to grab a bottle and run next door to euphoria's "Grand Tasting" tent. I was very proud of my self control. There may be a case of this wine in my future.
Back to the wine. From the Stags Leap District, it is one of Napa's few "Ghost Wineries" which is a great story, involving California, Italy and prohibition. I won't tell it here. It is a story to be told while sipping a glass of this wine while sitting around the fire-pit.
Shafer One Point Five Cabernet Sauvignon `08 $70.00
(98% Cabernet Sauvignon, 1% Petite Verdot, 1% Malbec)
At 15.1% ETO, this is a powerhouse wine from Shafer Family Vineyard in Napa's Stags Leap District. A classically dark forest fruit flavored, tight, dry Cabernet, I wonder what it would be like aerated and served with an amazing crown roast.
Thank you Scott for walking us through these great representatives of Cabernet Sauvignon. It truly was a Master Class on Cabernet Sauvignon.
My slideshow from all the Wine Seminars: