Bonterra Vineyards 1997 North Coast Cabernet Sauvignon ($15.99)
I'm not persuaded by organic wines, frankly. With the possible exception of the most industrial-style mass-market wineries, few fine-wine producers represent the kind of amoral agribusiness that presents a threat to the environment or the consumer. Scratch most wine makers and you'll find farmers who understand their debt to the soil. Accordingly, I don't worry about looking for "organic" wines or recommending them to readers.
But all that being said, Bonterra's 1997 Cabernet Sauvignon passes a more important test: It tastes good. In fact, it tastes very good indeed. Dark garnet in color, it breathes blackcurrant and cedar aromas and a floral hint of roses, and it offers ripe, fresh-fruit flavors consistent with the nose, well balanced and structured with firm acidity and soft tannins. Organic, shmorganic, it's a quality Cabernet at a price that's fair.
FOOD MATCH: A fine match with char-grilled flank steak marinated in red wine with garlic and fresh tomatoes and sauced with a quick pan reduction of the marinade.
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