30 Second Wine Advisor: Wine Focus - Cabernet, King of grapes 30 Second Wine Advisor: Wine Focus - Cabernet, King of grapes

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In This Issue

 Wine Focus - Cabernet, King of grapes
Here's a question for royalist wine geeks: If wine grape varieties were sorted into a peerage, which would reign as king?
 Finally! Access To Napa and Sonoma Valley's Most Prestigious Aged Cabernet Sauvignons Introducing The Aged Cabernet Series. This exciting new club delivers premium Napa Valley Cabernets 10 to 15 years old, with our guarantee of quality, and your enjoyment.
 Kunde Estate 2004 Sonoma Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($18.99) A nicely balanced wine and a good introduction to Sonoma Cabernet at the lower end of the range you'll pay for varietally characteristic Cab.
 This week on WineLoversPage.com
Italian wine expert Tom Hyland reports from Campania; Randy "Bucko" Buckner highlights Washington State in his 100 new wines, and WineLovers Discussion Group members get into an intriguing wine-technology discussion about Physiological ripeness in grapes.
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Wine Focus - Cabernet, King of grapes

Here's a question for royalist wine geeks: If wine grape varieties were sorted into a peerage, which would reign as king?

Wine Writer Daniel Rogov, my friend and colleague who hosts his Rogov's Place forums in our WineLovers Discussion Groups, asked just this question in a recent poll.

Given a ballot listing eight popular grapes (plus the always-useful "other," Rogov's readers gave a noisy shout-out to Cabernet Sauvignon, which led the sweepstakes with a solid 44 percent of those voting. Pinot Noir was second at 22 percent, with Syrah, Nebbiolo and others trailing.

Why does Cabernet Sauvignon reign supreme, even with the strong sentiment behind Pinot Noir and others? The consensus seemed to be this: Not only does Cabernet Sauvignon produce great wine in its natural home, Bordeaux, but it can be coaxed to make wine of similar class, elegance and grace in many world regions, from Calfornia's Napa and Sonoma Valleys to Australia's Coonawarra, Argentina and Chile, South Africa and many more.

Even its closest competitor, Pinot Noir, was considered until quite recently to be a "heartbreak" grape that could be grown in other parts of the world but that rarely if ever reached world class outside of Burgundy. While growers in places like Oregon, California's Russian River Valley and New Zealand's Central Otago are starting to challenge that assumption, Cabernet Sauvignon still holds the lead for many wine lovers as a grape that can make truly great wine in many places.

As autumn comes to the Northern Hemisphere and reawaken interest in serious, tannic red wines and the red-meat fare that traditionally accompanies them, we're turning our attention to Cabernet Sauvignon (and Cab-dominant Bordeaux-style blends) this month in Wine Focus, our monthly wine-education feature on the WineLovers Discussion Group forums.

Among questions we'll put to the test this month: How does 100 percent varietal Cabernet Sauvignon compare with Bordeaux-style blends? Side-by-side "blind" tastings would be the most effective way to draw this conclusion. Moreover, how difficult is it to find true 100 percent varietal Cabernet? Wine regulations in most regions require only 75 percent of a specific grape to qualify for full-varietal labeling. Back labels or Websites may tell, but sometimes they don't. And finally, of course, we'll try to compare and contrast Cabernet Sauvignons and blends from around the globe, hoping to draw our own conclusions about whether terroir matters and whether Bordeaux's brand remains the market leader.

To participate in Wine Focus, simply click to
http://www.wineloverspage.com/forum/village/viewforum.php?f=18
The discussions are open for public viewing, but you must register to post. Registration is free and easy; we ask only that you join following our Real Names Real Format system, using your real name in the format "John Doe" or "John D".

Once you've registered, if you'd also like to vote in Rogov's poll, you'll find it here: Wine Poll #009: The King of Red Grape Varieties
http://www.wineloverspage.com/forum/village/viewtopic.php?f=29&t=18459

Today let's kick off the month with a tasting report on Kunde Estate 2004 Sonoma Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. At $19 in this market ($22 winery price), it's tagged a bit above everyday wine for many wine enthusiasts. Sadly, although I would be delighted to learn of specific exceptions, I find that lower-priced Cabernet, particularly those in the range of $10 or below, tend to be anonymously short on varietal character.

In fact, the Kunde is not a 100 percent varietal wine. In the 2005 vintage, at least, the winery Website reports, The addition of Syrah, Malbec, and Petit Syrah "adds color and richness to the wine." Still, I find in it plenty of varietal character to serve as a decent benchmark for Sonoma Cabernet. You'll find my tasting report below.



Kunde Estate 2004 Sonoma Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($18.99)

Kunde

Very dark reddish-violet with a garnet edge. Good, benchmark California Cabernet scent, black fruit with hints of black cherry and currant and perhaps just a whiff of dark chocolate in the background. Flavors are consistent with the nose, bright and fresh black fruit nicely shaped by zippy acidity. There's a touch of soft tannins, but any astringency is eclipsed by good, juicy and not overdone fruit. Although it has a bit of non-traditional fruit in the blend, it remains varietally correct for Cabernet and stands as a good introduction to the grape. (Oct. 4, 2008)

FOOD MATCH: Although Cabernet Sauvignon is a natural with beef or lamb, I love it with roasted or grilled chicken. It was a triumph with a butterflied free-range chicken roasted at high heat, and made a particularly appealing match with the crispy skin.

VALUE: It's hardly a cheap wine (and the $22 price at the winery is a bit more), but it sits at the lower end of the range you'll pay for quality Cabernet Sauvignon; note also that it is often found discounted.

WHEN TO DRINK: Top Cabernets will age for many years and gain complex and delightful flavors with maturity. Less pricey bottles like this one shouldn't be kept for decades, but it could still make an interesting experiment in cellaring for five years or more.

WEB LINK:
Although the 2004 was on sale for me locally, the 2005 is now Kunde's current release. Here's a fact sheet on the '05, which should not differ materially from the wine I tasted.
http://www.kunde.com/wines/wine.asp?w=824

FIND THIS WINE ONLINE:
Look for vendors and check prices for Kunde Cabernet Sauvignon on Wine-Searcher.com:
http://www.wine-searcher.com/
find/Kunde%2bCabernet/-/-/USD/A?referring_site=WLP


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PRINT OUT TODAY'S ARTICLE
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http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor2/
2008/10/wine_focus_cabernet_king_of_grapes-print.html



This week on WineLoversPage.com

Italian Wine Guide: Campania
It's difficult to choose the most beautiful region in Italy, but for those who have been there, Campania must surely rate at or near the top of their list. Writer Tom Hyland celebrates Campania.
http://www.wineloverspage.com/italwineguide/campania08.phtml

Bucko's Wine Reports: 100 new wines
The Washington wine industry has grown by leaps and bounds, and wine quality has grown right along with the wineries. Randy "Bucko" Buckner reports on many Washington wines this month.
http://www.wineloverspage.com/bucko/bucko0908.phtml

WineLovers Discussion Group: Great varieties ... and the rest
WineLovers Discussion Group members get into an intriguing wine-technology discussion about Physiological ripeness in grapes and its relevance to deciding when to pick.
http://www.wineloverspage.com/forum/village/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=18958


Last Week's Wine Advisor Index

The Wine Advisor's daily edition is usually distributed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. However, we're skipping some Fridays at this point, and the Wine Advisor FoodLetter, customarily distributed on Thursdays, has been on break. I hope to resume it before long.

 When cork alternatives go bad (Oct. 1, 2008)
http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor2/tswa20081001.php

 How old can Beaujolais go? (Sept. 29, 2008)
http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor2/tswa20080929.php

 Complete 30 Second Wine Advisor archive:
http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor2/archives.php

 Wine Advisor Foodletter archive:
http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor2/food/archives.php