gmhTODAY 08 gmhToday May June 2016 - Page 96

THE VINE Cabernet Sauvignon … our old friend C abernet Sauvignon is likely the most recognized red wine grape variety worldwide. We see this grape grown in just about every wine- growing region in the world; from Australia to Argentina, New York to France. And of course here in California and the Santa Clara Valley we are no exception, we have wonderful examples from all areas in and around the Santa Clara Valley. Because this grape thrives in such a wide variety of climates, we can fi nd examples of Cabernet Sauvignon from more places in the world than almost any other single variety. Many people are not aware that Cabernet Sauvignon is actually a cross-breeding of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc, born in France during the 17th century. Cabernet Sauvignon, and the family of grapes collectively referred to as the “Bordeaux Varieties”, originated in the Bordeaux region of France; a port city in the Southwest of the country. Bordeaux has been producing wines since the time of the Romans, and with the exception of a decline during the “Hundred Years’ War” (1337 to 1453), there has been continuous production and export of wine in and from Bordeaux. The red grapes from Bordeaux are commonly blended together in varying degrees depending on which side of the Garonne River they are grown on. They include Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Carmenere. In the 19th century, many of the Malbec vineyards in the area were replaced with the more hearty Cabernet Sauvignon, due to the adaptability and better resistance to disease. This larger group of grapes are also generally grown together for 96 blending purposes in other countries besides France. We commonly see either Merlot or Cabernet Franc as Cabernet Sauvignon’s blending partner, depending on the characteristics the winemaker desires to impart in their finished wines. On its own, Cabernet Sauvignon typically exudes flavors of cherry and blackcurrant/cassis on a base level, but what characteristics imparted by climate variations and the use of oak barrels give Cabernet Sauvignon a wide variety of possibilities. With warmer climates, we can also smell and taste opulent fruits, other red fruits such as raspberry, jam, blackberry pie, chocolate, coffee, and more. Cooler climates lean towards tart fruits, cherry, green bell pepper, eucalyptus, pencil shavings, and crushed gravel. With oak usage we find vanilla, cinnamon, cardamom, and other baking spices. Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the more complex red grape varieties, and one that shows much variety based on the climate in which it is grown. Here in the Santa Clara Valley, we have an abundance of high quality Cabernet Sauvignon being produced by wineries of all sizes, and many excellent award- winning examples. A few of my favorites are Jason-Stephens, Medeiros Family Wines, and Martin Ranch Winery, all of which have their 2012 vintages currently released for sale. Martin Ranch Winery’s 2012 JD Hurley Cabernet Sauvignon is a great balanced wine with notes of red fruit such as cherry and raspberry, with cinnamon and spice as well. A great wine for game dishes such as lamb, this might be the perfect wine for a rosemary lamb dish. Medeiros Family Wines 2012 Cabernet GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN MAY/JUNE 2016 By Alicia Cuadra Sauvignon exhibits a rich mixture of bramble fruit, raspberry, cherry and spice. Notes of hickory give the wine an added complexity, and the smooth tannins and balanced acid structure hint at great potential for aging as well. If you can resist drinking this delicious wine now, it will be the gem of your cellar in 10 or so years. This wine would be fabulous with a hearty steak or tri-tip barbeque. Jason-Stephens 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon is a mixture of red cherry, vanilla and spice. Notes of red hibiscus and sweet tarragon; this wine got more complex with more time in the glass. A balanced and complex wine to drink on its own or with food, this wine will also age gracefully. Though these three producers are not by any means a full list of Cabernet Sauvignon producers in our area, they tend to focus on this grape variety, and have provided consistent examples of this style of wine throughout the years. A few other wineries in the Santa Clara Valley with excellent examples of Cabernet Sauvignon include J. Lohr in San Jose, Cooper-Garrod in Saratoga, Creekview and Miramar in San Martin, Sycamore Creek in Morgan Hill, and Solis and Stefania in Gilroy. I recommend stopping by and giving them a try. You might find your next favorite! Cabernet Sauvignon is such a versatile wine, you will enjoy comparing them for yourself. Alicia Cuadra is a Wine Educator and Consultant in the Monterey Bay. She is a certified Sommelier, Certified Specialist of Wine and Italian Wine Professional. Follow her blog at and on social media @AliciaSeesWine.