Bonterra Vineyards 2006 Mendocino County Cabernet Sauvignon ($14.99)
Clear, dark garnet with flashes of reddish-violet against the light. True, characteristic Cabernet aroma of "cassis" (blackcurrant liqueur) and black cherries, with a discreet note of vanilla in the background. On the palate it's juicy and ripe, cherries and a touch of berries shaped by lip-smacking acidity and soft but substantial tannins. It's predominantly Cabernet, but gains accents from an offbeat, non-Bordeaux blend of supporting players: 83 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 6 percent Syrah, 6 percent Petite Sirah and the remainder a mix of Malbec, Zinfandel and Merlot. The grapes are sourced primarily from 11 vineyards, two of which are certified biodynamic. In this age of rising, blockbuster-style alcohol levels, it's relatively rational by North Coast standards at "only" 13.9 percent. US Importer: N/A (Jul 7, 2008)

FOOD MATCH: Cabernet Sauvignon's natural companions include beef and lamb and good Cheddar cheese. It was excellent with thick, locally produced pan-seared lamb chops with fresh rosemary.

WEB LINK: http://bonterra.com

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