Happy Cabernet Sauvignon Day!!!
August 30th (or the Thursday before Labor Day) is the annual holiday to celebrate all that is cab sav. I couldn’t have asked for a better excuse to pop open a bottle, not that I ever really need one!
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve at least heard of cabernet sauvignon. Although it’s been around since the 1600s, it wasn’t until the mid-1990s that scientists learned of its lineage: the offspring of two other common grapes, cabernet franc and sauvignon blanc. Cabernet sauvignon is the top planted red wine grape across the world. Impressive, right? We’ve come to know cabernet as being a top-billed player in Bordeaux blends, while also thriving as a single varietal. Oftentimes, when people think of the latter, the mind immediately shoots to “Napa Cab,” which is the red varietal the region has become known for. I’ll be reviewing a Napa Cab, but first, what is cabernet sauvignon?!
Cabernet sauvignon grapes are small with dark-colored, thick skins that have high-yield vines and can produce extremely concentrated wines. As a result of the grape skin’s darkness and thickness, these wines have higher levels of tannins which, along with medium-high acidity levels, increases the wines’ ability to age. The grapes require a bit longer growing season than its red rivals, merlot and cabernet franc. Its vines also bud later than other varietals, which helps them avoid frost and makes them more resistant to viticultural hazards like rot and insects. This fact, and the thick skins, allow cabernet grapes to produce consistent presentations of structure and flavors.
Though cabernet sauvignon can grow in a wide variety of climates and terrain, as this grape is extremely adaptable, it does best in climates that have an abundance of sunshine, warm temperatures, and moderate cooling influences.
Cabernet sauvignon typically produces full-bodied red wines with dark fruit flavors – like cassis, black cherries, blueberries and chocolate – and savory notes such as leather, bell pepper (thanks to its dad, cabernet franc) and baking spices. When the grapes are picked before fully ripening, the wines can have flavors of green bell pepper and olives. But cabernets from the Old World (most European countries) and the New World (think North and South Americas or Australia) can have some distinct differences in their flavor profiles. Old World cabernet has more predominant aromas and flavors or herbs and earthiness rather than fruit. You can expect to pick up flavors of tobacco or leather, violets, or pencil shavings, along with secondary flavors of black cherries and licorice. The Old World cabs also tend to be a bit lighter in body, but heavier in tannins and acidity. New World cabernet really shines with bolder fruit flavors that bring those black cherries to the forefront, with notes of vanilla and cedar from oak aging, and black pepper. These wines will absolutely astound with the fuller body – including higher alcohol levels – and balance of tannins and acidity.
As I said before, New World cabernet is typically used in red blends. Although this has been true for a long time, it may have been more deeply seeded when a Napa Valley cabernet (Stag’s Leap) beat out Bordeaux in the 1976 Judgement of Paris! So if you’re looking for a classic cabernet to drink or share with friends, look no further than our own California to give you a traditional representation of the varietal.
While I do have several bottles of cabernet sauvignon from some of the wineries I visited recently, I figured you’d probably be sick of hearing about those. So I chose to taste the 2015 True Myth Cabernet Sauvignon:
Admittedly, I first tasted this with my sister-in-law at our cousin’s college graduation. The name alone will draw you in, and we were impresed with the flavors throughout our dining experience. But it wasn’t until we were leaving that we saw how beautiful the bottle was. I vowed to find it at a local store and, lucky me, I managed to pick one up! 😉
After popping this open, I poured myself and my husband a glass. I also did something a little different from what I normally do: I challenged myself to guess the ABV. My husband could definitely hold me accountable. Without looking I said, “This tastes like it’s a 13.8%.” Guess what……it’s 13.9%!! I was so close. Maybe it was pure luck, but I was proud. Anywho, onto the tasting notes:
Appearance: A very deep, opaque red that carried its color, although it faded a tiny tidbit, towards the edges.
Nose: Immediately was hit by blueberries, blackberries, and cocoa. As I swirled the wine, I picked up some cola notes that almost seemed like a blend of Coca-Cola and Root Beer, just a shy bit of sweetness on the nose.
Taste: Such smooth tannins, definitely present, but they were fine-grained and well-integrated. Those dark berries and fruits carried through to the palate, and this full-bodied beauty could easily be described as a perfectly balanced wine.
Overall: If it wasn’t obvious from the fact that I’ve previously tasted this wine and repurchased it, I’d definitely recommend True Myth. The sips before pairing it with food were marvelous – such a pleasant wine to drink on its own, or with a meal. Now I did make the mistake of combining this with a dinner that had sriracha in it, which is definitely not recommende. The spice typically found within cabernet’s flavors can be amplified with spicy dishes, which just becomes overwhelming. To counter/complement the spiciness that can be present in the wine (thank you oak-aging!), you’d want to serve a wine like this with foods that have high fat (creamy cheese or fatty steak) or umami (savory, like soy sauce) flavors.
The bottle’s front and back labels quote Ralph Waldo Emerson:
“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.”
When I read the full quote for the first time, I couldn’t help but pause for a minute and really let that sink in. How much of life do we try to cram into every minute and every second of the day? Do we ever truly slow down, and take in all that is around us? The answers for me: a lot and less frequently than I’d care to admit, respectively. Sometimes it feels like you can’t slow down, and if you do, you’ll just get run over by everything that’s riding on your back. I thought this quote – and bottle – presented the perfect opportunity to slow down a bit. Reflect. Appreciate.
I know it’s Cabernet Sauvignon Day and all, but I hope you take a few minutes out of your day to stop and smell the roses – or wine for that matter – and remember that life is a marathon, not a sprint. When we rush into everything and expect instant gratification, we lose sight of the big picture, and oftentimes don’t see the answers and the beauty surrounding us. I mean Ferris Bueller couldn’t have been wrong when he said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
So pick up a glass and admire it for all it encompasses and represents. Be patient. Be kind. And today, most importantly, drink some good wine!!!
If you want to learn a bit more about True Myth wines or the cabernet sauvignon itself, check out the tech sheet or the website. And remember, life is a cabernet, so drink up!
Cheers, fellow wine drinkers!
3 thoughts on “Wine 25: Cabernet Sauvignon”
Love your reviews for the lessons, analyses, poetic and philosophical musings.
Thank you so much!! I’m so glad you enjoy them, and hope everything I’m learning helps others in their own wine journeys. 🙂