Find deals on Cabernet Sauvignon now; grilling time approaches

February 18, 2023

While sales are still running, let’s check out some Cabernet Sauvignons that will please your purse and palate, and be ready for the summer barbecue season. Newton Unfiltered Napa Cab 2018, 92 McD under $48, is a great buy. Most associate Newton with Chardonnay, but this cab is winemaker’s art, blended of juice from several Napa names. It is a lovely dark cherry-purple color and opens to ripe cherries with leather and tobacco subnotes. Nicely balanced fruit, tannin and acidity. Look for more cherry, dark fruit and barrel spices on the palate. Not those big, tannic Napa newbies, but an elegant food Cab.

Molesworth, writing in Wine Spectator, named Beaulieu Vineyard Napa Cab 2019 a “2022 wine value of the year.” He is a fine evaluator, and the wine, 90 McD, easily findable under $35, is indeed a fair price, but “value of the year” is a bit rich for me. Still an excellent buy. An example of great winemaking, it is a blending of juices from BV’s Calistoga, Rutherford and St. Helena, and “other quality Napa vineyards.” This happy choice produces complex wine that shows the diverse characteristics of the several terroirs. The 2019 does not disappoint. The juices (aka must) underwent primary fermentation in stainless steel tanks, malolactic secondary in oak, followed by 18 months’ barrel aging, then blended 93% Cab, 5% Petite Sirah and 2% Cab Franc. Allow time in glass, and lovely aromas of Cab, cherry, tea leaf, tobacco, flowers and barrel toast will develop. On the smooth, full-bodied palate, strawberry, black cherry and cola appear with eucalyptus, mocha and pie spice accent. Approachable now with decanting but will improve for at least 10 years. If Cab is your go-to for steaks and chops, a case buy at current price is smart.

Info for newer readers: With blends, each lot is vinified separately. The grapes are processed into juice and primary fermentation is stimulated. Next, juice is added to (pumped over) the matte of seeds, stems and skins for extraction of tannin and color. Then it’s drained into large oak barrels for secondary malolactic fermentation. I’m describing the process to highlight why the QPR is proper; a great deal of demanding work goes into these processes. You may wish to visit one of our local wineries where you can observe parts of the process. I recommend Nassau Valley Vineyards for several reasons. They make wonderful wines that can be tasted on site. The owners are longtime, great friends, and more importantly, wonderful “winos”; NVV is proximate to locals, and it is across the road from Cape Gazette offices where you can stop by to give me a good nod, or not. 

Dear longtimers, sorry about the shameless plug and sidetrack. Groth Oakville Cabs are having a clearance sale, with good buys on 2017 and ‘18 in the low $50s. The 2019 is a fine buy also but a bit overhyped due to an admirable growing season that has driven price/value too high. Silver Ghost was at the tasting, and I had to try some of their Napa Cab 2018, a nice food wine, 90 McD under $40. I later read an ad for a combo two-pack for $42, one each of the Groth and Olema Sonoma County Cab 2019, 84 McD. Avoid unless you are curious.

Let’s wrap up with some good/bad news. Recently, writers have been describing a disturbing trend among the “utes,” claiming that wine is losing ground among the college kids-to-30 crowd. It seems these folks prefer wine last among the common adult beverage choices: No. 1 likker, No. 2 suds and a distant No. 3 vino. Here’s the good news. We are in a wine glut, with the possibility the outrageous price increases will abate. Although my memory may be foggy, with this group, it might be more about bang for the buck; keggers, trash can parties, Ripple and Mad Dog 20/20 come to mind. I’m speculating that failure to master a wine key, and the endemic use of cans and boxes are the culprits. Perhaps that’s the reason so many conglomerate wine producers are canning and boxing wine. I’m not buying the “green” argument; it was already tried with the Plasticine bottles and Stelvin cap. Follow the money.

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