Cabernet Sauvignon A Wise Choice For Cold Days

December 19, 2018
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As the temperatures plunge, call a cab — a cabernet sauvignon.

The king of red wines is known for big, bold flavors of blackberry and currant (cassis) as well as often griping tannins which, as in tea, give the sandpaper effect on the tongue. Cabernet also has a herbal character. “Sauvignon” means “savage,” after all.

However, those two traits, tannins and herbalness, aren’t coveted by the bulk of consumers, and more cabernets are being made to suppress those traits, coming off as standard red wines.

I tried a few, and most were good wines with bold flavors, but fewer were authentic, crying-out-for-steak cabernets.

From the lesser label of Napa fixture Hess, Hess Select North Coast 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon offers bright and ripe plum and blackberry flavors, a medium body and softness. Kudos for making a moderate-alcohol cabernet. This one weighs in at 13.5 percent. $16.

Frank Family Vineyards in Napa Valley is known for massive wines. In recent years, it has done a better job walking the fine line between power and grace. The pricey but outstanding Frank Family 2014 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon shows blackberry and currant with spiciness and a chocolatey note. The tannins and acids show up, balancing off the intense flavors. $50. 1/2

Louis Martini 2015 Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon smells of dried flowers and tastes of dry raspberry. It is a medium-bodied wine with a slightly tannic finish. $18.

Rutherford Ranch 2016 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvig non shows cherry and plum flavors with a smooth texture and soft finish. $25. 1/2

You may also want to check out Paso Robles or good old Left Bank Bordeaux for other worthwhile cabernet sauvignon.

GRADE: Exceptional ★★★★★, Above average ★★★★, Good ★★★, Below average ★★,

Poor ★.

DAVID FALCHEK, executive director of the American Wine Society, reviews wines each week.

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