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Serving Up National Cabernet Sauvignon Day With 2010 MollyDooker Maitre d’

Today has been a day of juggling…schedules, activities, and events. Wine selection for the day was no less of a balancing act. I woke up today to see on the calendar that it was National Cabernet Sauvignon Day. A day to celebrate in my book as I LOVE the ‘bad boy’ of the wine world. However, I also woke to a weather report discussing 95+ degree weather and the need to prepare for a flurry of grilling and bar-b-q over the upcoming Labor Day Weekend. The art of finding a Cabernet Sauvignon that was true to its name, but would not be too heavy during the ‘Dog Days of Summer’ and would pair nicely with the savory goodness of smoked meats and picnic treats. I also wanted to make sure it was a value…most great Cabernet Sauvignons require you to sell your first born to enjoy them.

Fortunately, I found a solution from an unlikely source….Australia.

Mollydooker Vineyards is one of my favorites, producing some of the most incredible Shiraz offerings and red blends you can imagine. Many come with a sizable price tag (albeit worth the price), but they offer a Cabernet Sauvignon that I think anyone and everyone could enjoy.

The 2010 Maitre d’ Cabernet Sauvignon isn’t your typical muscly, bold Napa-styled Cab. It’s more like a Prom King…charming, personable, easily approachable, and one that most people will enjoy. Deep purple in the glass, the nose is full of big red berries, cassis, cherry, spice, and maybe even slightly like smoked meat. It’s the taste that’s going to blow you away…quite literally. It is like an explosion of fruit the second it hits your tastebuds, but then it takes you on a ride with anise, black pepper, toasty oak vanilla, and a finish…a wonderfully long finish with dark chocolate and espresso….two of my favorite things. There are enough acids in it to cut through the cheeseburgers I paired it up with, and nice, delicate tannins to give it a great mouth feel without being too heavy for the late summer heat.

Those that love a big Cab will be able to enjoy having an old friend during a time you normally wouldn’t drink a big red. Those that like something lighter will love the approachable fruit. Bar-b-q lovers will rejoice because this one will pair with ribs, burnt ends, and pulled pork just as easily as a Zinfandel, and value hunters will celebrate knowing this one won’t cause you to take out a second mortgage. This one is priced just under $30. Compared to paying $80 or more for a lot of other killer Cabs, this is a steal and easy to enjoy on a regular basis.

If only National Cabernet Day could come on a regular basis as well. Perhaps this wine could be a reason to celebrate it more often.

Cheers!

~CC

 
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Posted by on August 30, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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The California “Love Child” of Bordeaux and Piedmont: 2007 Valeriano from Jacuzzi Winery

Ever have one of those days that was so dreadful even Murphy’s Law wouldn’t get near it?  Where you had the Midas Touch, except things didn’t turn to gold, it turned to…well, you get the idea.

Today was one of those amazing days.  I’m not sure which stung more: the arm covered in blisters from stinging nettle, or the 8 year old explaining that I look like one of the Angry Birds when I’m scolding her.

I know I’m probably showing my age here (for you young little darlings, you’ll have to Google this), but today has been a day where, if I had Calgon, I would throw the whole damn box into the tub and scream at it to not only take me away, but to make it one way, and lose the passport afterward.

Sadly…I have no Calgon.

But I do have something better.

I have France and Italy uncorked.  I have California Dreamin’ in my hands…

…I have the 2007 Valeriano from Jacuzzi Vineyards in my glass.

I’ll admit it, I had no idea what this wine was about.  I’ll even confess, I had not heard of this winery before (I live with an 8 year old that shames me, cut me some slack).  But with the stress and humiliation I have endured the past few days, those two magical words caught my eye: Valeriano and Jacuzzi.

I figured Valeriano should maybe be the Italian name for Valerian, an herbal relaxant, and we all know what a Jacuzzi is.  I know, it’s not terribly intellectual, but in my overworked mind, it equaled a stress-free nirvana in a bottle.  I took the bait.

It turns out that Valeriano is the first name of Valeriano Jacuzzi, the man responsible for the much coveted Jacuzzi tub.  He and his family also grew wine, and did it well…Valeriano is the Grandfather of Fred Cline of the highly regarded Cline Cellars.  They actually run Jacuzzi Winery in the Carneros area of Sonoma and make this red beauty.  All in all, with all of this new found information, I figure things were looking good where this wine was concerned.

‘Valeriano’ takes the best of Bordeaux by using Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot grapes, then adds that renowned California ‘creativity’ by blending it with the Italian grape Barbera.  The ‘love child’ produced is truly spectacular!

In the glass, deep ruby with a mix of dark cherry, blackberry, basil, cocoa, and what I refer to as ‘dusty soil’ (which I find pretty typical of Italian wines) on the nose.

The taste is enough to make me do a little happy dance.  Blackberry pie and cherry fruits mix with mocha, spice, and even a little black olive on the finish.  I know, it’s not something you’d whip together in the kitchen, but trust me, IT WORKS!  It has enough tannin to give die-hard red fans something to hang on to, but they are smooth and soft on the tongue to appease those that like a lighter red.  Just a great mouth feel…and a great taste…on a great deal of a wine.

Now when I say great deal, it is not one of my ‘Around the Wine World for Under $20′ finds.  This one you’ll find around $35-40, so it’s not what I would call an everyday wine.  But given the great expense of California Cabernets, Bordeaux, and the finer wines of Piedmont, this is a steal!  You don’t find a wine of this quality at a bargain like this every day.

Pair it up with Italian (that’s a no-brainer), a big ol’ steak, brisket (BBQ season is upon us), pulled pork, venison, and, if you’re a heathen like me, the biggest bacon and blue cheese burger you can wrap your hands around.

Cheers!

~CC

 

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Why Did the Chicken Grace My Wine Glass? Rex Goliath Cabernet Sauvignon

As I hunker down inside the house, listening to the cold winds whip and the pellets of sleet hitting the window, my ‘Cheap Summer Wine Tour’ seems like a sad distant memory. Did I mention I hate the winter, and I hate being holed up like a prisoner to the cold?

With defiance, I grab a pair of fuzzy slippers and my wine glass, and, come hell or high snow drifts, I’m going to find a way to enjoy the season. It will be with copious amounts of wine.

And so begins my Winter Wine Adventure, where, with the change leftover from spending too much on Christmas gifts for people I may or may not even like, I will purchase and explore bargain wines with the same character and depth you’d find in the knit scarf and mittens your Aunt Clara would make.

The first wine of the season is a non-vintage wine out of California called HRM Rex~Goliath Free Range Cabernet Sauvignon. The bottle immediately caught my attention as it sports artwork reflecting a 47 lb Giant Rooster of circus fame that held the name of Rex Goliath. Yes…a 47lb giant circus rooster.

This wine is either going to have tons of character or be bad beyond belief. At $6.99, I’m praying for a miracle.

Pouring into the glass, the big bad liquid bird struts out in a deep, inky purple-ish red in color. The nose is equally boisterous with heavy notes of cedar and smoky oak. A second sniff also reveals scents of plum and mocha as well, but the cedar takes the center ring overall.

And now for the main event..will it be a showstopper for the right reasons?

On the initial sip, I thought it was too much. This big bird definitely has some bite, but, after letting it breathe for about 40 minutes, I tried it again.

Not bad!

It doesn’t taste like some cheap, one-dimensional, rot-gut fruit punch trying to capitalize on the California Cabernet Sauvignon craze. This actually has some good things going on here. Lots of dark, ripe fruit in here laced with the smoky oak flavor and cedar that was on the nose. Soft, smooth tannins and a nice, lingering finish. For $7.00, this could EASILY be an every day ‘go to’ wine. Yes, we’re having chicken yet again.

But the only place you want the ‘chicken’ is poured in your glass. It’s too bold to pair with poultry. This wine DEFINITELY needs a big, hearty beef dish…a thick steak or a hearty beef stew is in order.

Pluck this bird from your local liquor store and sip it often.

 
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Posted by on November 2, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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A Star Has Fallen: 2009 Newman’s Own Cabernet Sauvignon

I’ll admit, Mommy’s frazzled and she needs…I mean NEEDS her ‘sippie cup’ of wine. Between marching band practice, flute lessons, and Girl Scouts, how is a woman supposed to properly study for her Certified Specialist of Wine exam that is happening in only three days?

Well, you pray a lot to God, Bacchus, your pets, anyone that might listen, you cut corners for time in any way you can think of, and you drink whatever wine you can get your hands on.

I decided to combine the last two options and asked my daughters’ father to not only grab dinner options from the grocery store around the corner from me, but asked if he would please pick me up a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon to help calm my frazzled nerves. I did not think that request through, fully, as he knows wines about as well as Lady Gaga knows how to be subdued.

Along with a variety of frozen pizzas, sandwich meats, bags of pre-made salad, and Newman’s Own Ranch dressing, he also presented me with a bottle of 2009 Newman’s Own Cabernet Sauvignon.

Another ‘celebrity’ wine…just what I needed.

As I stared at the bottle, I started thinking to myself, ‘well, the pasta sauces and salad dressings are good, and Paul Newman was an absolute winner, how bad can this be?’

So I started to do my homework. $10 for the bottle; I’ve had pretty decent wines for that price, actually. Like his other products, all the profits, after taxes, are donated to charity. I love that! Looked at the winery that produced it. Rebel Winery…hmmmm…I knew nothing about them.
Turns out they’re from Napa, California. That’s always a good sign as Napa is KNOWN for their Cabernet Sauvignons. Also owned by Trinchero Estates, pretty big name in wine. I figured that was another great sign. So, I opened the bottle and poured.

The color was a bit of a purplish red…pretty in the glass…definitely looked like a young wine. As I shoved my nose into the glass to take that first perfumed whiff, I was almost overwhelmed by the smell of cherries. Once I backed off and took another sniff, I caught vanilla and oak, with a peppery smell to it. Thought it smelled a little TOO fruity to be a Cabernet, but hey, I’m stressed, maybe my nose is off.

So, the most important part finally arrived (especially after the past few days of kids, studying, and work). I took that first sip and…

…it wasn’t ‘Butch and Sundance’ quality to me.

It’s really not a bad wine. You taste exactly what you get on the nose: an overwhelming profusion of cherries, maybe a touch of blackberry, a hint of vanilla and oak, and almost TOO much black pepper at the end. OH…the end. What happened to the end? It just sort of disappeared…rode off into the sunset without so much as a word…at a full gallop, no less. There really was no finish. Just the initial wallop of cherry and pepper flavors then…’poof’…gone.

I have kept tasting it over and over, because I SO wanted this wine to be a favorite…I really did. I admit it (and I know this dates me), I wanted it to have all of the sex appeal that Paul Newman had…even at 83. I wanted this wine to cause me to melt like the gaze from Newman’s blue eyes, but sadly, it didn’t.

This wine reminds me more of a big fruit bomb Shiraz with lots of pepper thrown in an attempt to make it interesting. It doesn’t remind me of a California Cabernet at all; especially a Napa Cab.

I know, I shouldn’t have expected much from a $10 bottle of Cabernet. Except I did. And I’ve had some lovely cheap priced Cabernets. The Columbia Crest Grand Estates Cabernet immediately pops into my mind. In fact, it is still in my mind. I’m thinking I may have to go down into my mini wine-cellar (I’m a mom, not a wine collector) and grab it just to get my fix.

Like I said, this really isn’t a bad wine. It sure beats anything in a box, I’ll tell you that! But even at a $10 price, I think I can do better.

 
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Posted by on September 13, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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