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December 19, 2010

08 Local Wine Company, California Sonoma County Alexander Valley "Sweet Spot" Cabernet Sauvignon

I've been asking you to write in. I need you to tell me I don't know what I'm talking about. Fine, I write some obscure tasting of a pinot noir you'll probably never try. I tell you there are ways to mercy and forgiveness that revolve solely around Champagne. But when it comes to cabernet, well, I guess I keep my mouth shut. I have to. I hate to say it, but you come here as much for my opinion on cabernet as I go to Robert Parker to check up on my notes for sauvignon blanc. My point is, it's your fault. Yeah, I said it. It's your fault for not catching me and saying, hey, Slovenian wine aside, you're really missing some of the pride and joy. You're missing the heart of the USA. "USA" as it says so proudly on this label. And proud it should be. Because the thing is, cabernet sauvignon as a grape is brilliant. When ripened correctly, it walks right up to the line of port without being sweet. It's thick; it's tannic; it's tremendous with food. And it never happens. It never does. For some reason, winemakers, or grad students in southern California, insist on covering up these wonderful tastes with oak, or strange fermentation methods, or a cost so prohibitive that who cares what it tastes like anyway. Which is why, when I do venture into the world of cabernet, I go straight to the northwest. Which brings me to this Californian wine. I was blinded on this wine today and I guessed that it was a young cab from Owen Roe, made by David O'Reilly. It's no coincidence, because as it turns out, the team at Local Wine Co. includes David on the wines under Tilda and Murphy's Law. 700 miles south, but nothing changes. If we have to drink American cabernet, this is what we must drink. It's decadent, sometimes too spicy and alcoholic, but balanced with a touch of acid, a hint of meatiness, and gorgeously dry tannins that stick to your gums and the middle of your tongue, cleaning up whatever the wine leaves behind. It's luscious with chef-like flavors of cassis and green fig brulee. I just had a starter at Graham Elliot that wasn't this good. Manjari chocolate and a finish of espresso. You won't guzzle it down. You'll have a glass or two with ribeye (oh, for godsake please make some ribeye to go with this wine). That's enough. You don't need more. And what's left, you'll leave on your coffee table and have tomorrow, when it'll start to taste like chocolate and shiitake mushrooms, truffles if you're lucky. You are lucky. You're lucky that cabernet is being crafted instead of just collected. You're lucky that winemakers in this country care so much, when they frankly don't have to. Cabernet, cute label, always sells. Makes no difference what it tastes like. Except it does. Except if we're going to put our name on this, it's going to be good. Except that the point's been all along not to keep my mouth shut, but as open as it can possibly be.

This wine was provided compliments of Local Wine Company, and if you think that biased my opinion, you're a complete idiot. We occasionally accept sponsors at 750 mL, though they have no influence on the wines we choose to review. French Wine at WineChateau.com - Buy 6 or more bottles and get 50% off shipping with promo code "750m69."


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