What is the most famous grape varietal in the world? Arguably (Pinot Noir lovers may not agree) it is Cabernet Sauvignon. If the wine world was the animal kingdom than Cabernet Sauvignon would be the lion. It is one of the world’s most widely recognized grapes, grown in every wine producing country and universally loved. If you drink wine, you drink Cabernet Sauvignon.
Why would a grape of such notoriety need its own day of recognition? I have no idea; besides who really cares why! Tomorrow grab your favorite bottle and get ready to toast the king of the wine jungle because Thursday, August 27, 2015 is International Cabernet Sauvignon Day!
Cabernet Sauvignon: Surprisingly this rock star varietal is not particularly old. It was created through a marriage of Cabernet Franc with Sauvignon Blanc in the 17th century in Southwestern France. It has a reputation of being fairly easy to cultivate, with grapes that are thick skinned thus less susceptible to disease, and vines that are high-yielding, hardy and typically bud later in the growing season, further making the grape resistant to frost, rot, insects and disease. Its classic characteristics produce wines that are full bodied with high tannins and round acidity, resulting in a great aging potential. Cabernet Sauvignon will grow in a variety of climates, soils and temperatures in varying longitudes and latitudes, each reflected in the aromas and flavors of the wine. Furthermore, the varietal drinks beautifully on its own and pairs very well with a large variety of other grapes. It is nice to have a king that gets along so well with others! Typical flavor profiles include black currant, black cherry, olives (either green or black), spice, fresh mint sprigs, and cedar notes. However, in warm climates the fruit notes tend to become jammy or syrupy and the fresh mint becomes more of a menthol.
What is your favorite style of Cabernet Sauvignon? I love Bordeaux (right or left bank) in its more rustic old world restraint. I love California (Napa, Sonoma, Paso Robles, Central Coast) in its fruity, new world exuberance. I love Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon blended with Carmenere. I love Tuscan IGT’s with Cabernet Sauvignon blended with Sangiovese. I love Australian Cabernet Sauvignon blended with Shiraz. The only way I do not love Cabernet Sauvignon is when it is an unbalanced, sweet, lacking acidity fruit bomb. Moreover, if a Cabernet Sauvignon, blended or single varietal is crafted into a wine that is balanced with good structure it does not matter where the grapes are grown I will enjoy it.
For this International Cabernet Sauvignon Day I have a special treat. Benson Marketing Group sent me media samples of Smith and Hook Cabernet Sauvignon. However, these were not just any media samples, they blessed me with a three year vertical: 2011, 2012 and 2013. As a wine geek I was super excited. The opportunity to taste three consecutive vintages of a wine allowed greater understanding the growing season and production process had on crafting wine.
Smith and Hook 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon Central Coast: This wine was crafted of 96% Cabernet Sauvignon and 4% Malbec. It poured a deep garnet into the glass. Dark fruits such as of black cherry, black berries, currants and plums, were met with spice notes of cinnamon and anise and a touch of black licorice. It has rich, round acidity and bold tannins leaving a lingering dryness on the back of the palate. Aged in 65% new oak, 14.8% alcohol. Comparatively: the earthiest of the three wines.
Smith and Hook 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Central Coast: This wine was crafted of 93% Cabernet Sauvignon and 7% Petite Sirah. It poured a deep garnet with inky highlights into the glass. Black berries, black cherries, black raspberries and plums are wrapped in a sultry earthiness of spice, toasted cedar, cloves, and dark chocolate. It had a silky texture with depth like crushed velvet on the palate, rich round acidity and well-integrated tannins for its youth; it was both layered and balanced. A deeper more brooding wine, delicious to drink, even better to age. Aged 65% new oak, 14.8% alcohol. Comparatively: biggest, richest, most brooding of the three wines.
Smith and Hook 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Central Coast: This wine was crafted of 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. It poured a deep ruby into the glass. A fresh bushel of ripe red fruits consisting of cherries, red raspberries, and red plums were met with a touch of cola, candied violets, spice notes of cinnamon, and a hint of vanilla. It was lively and youthful yet restrained, with rich acidity and tannins that were present yet not overpowering. A medium length finish ends in dryness on the back of the palate. Aged 40% new French oak, 14.8% alcohol. Comparatively: most red fruit and least spice notes, fresh and clean.
Conclusion: All three very enjoyable, easy to drink, age will only improve each of them, well-structured, well-balanced, palate pleasing.
Depending on the strength and velocity of the Cabernet Sauvignon being enjoyed, this wine pairs well with grilled steak, hamburgers, lamb, barbecue, pasta with red meat sauce, veal checks, braised boneless beef ribs, pot roast, cassoulet, the list goes on and on…
Smith and Hook wines are part of the Hahn Family Wines. The Cabernet Sauvignon was originally produced in the highlands of Monterey County in the Smith Vineyard and the Hook Vineyard (both former horse farms). It was determined the coolness of the region was better suited to produce Pinot Noir and Chardonnay so the vines were grafted and the Cabernet Sauvignon was resource to the Central Coast of California. Today the grapes for the Central Coast Cabernet Sauvignon come from four vineyards: Arroyo Seco, San Antonio Valley, Hames Valley and Paso Robles. Smith and Hook said, “The heat of summer’s growing season brings out decadent, complex dark fruit aromas and flavors. After harvest, we barrel-ferment Smith & Hook in French oak, beautifully melding each vineyard’s distinctive flavors into a robust and richly layered blend, for up to 10 months.” Resulting in a “spirited, layered and luscious Cabernet Sauvignon.”
Please join in the fun tomorrow by celebrating International Cabernet Day! Smith and Hook Cabernet Sauvignon is widely distributed so head to your local wine retailer and request a bottle of Smith and Hook Cabernet Sauvignon to celebrate. I personally know these wines are sold at Whole Foods, Kroger, Total Wine, and many more wine retailers. Typical SRP is less than $20!Finding a good California Cabernet Sauvignon under $50 is a great deal! So hurry you have 24 hours to get your own bottle. Tomorrow please share you celebration with me by either commenting on this article or through social media: Twitter = @Fiery01Red, Instagram = RockinRedBlog, Facebook = Rockin Red Blog. I am also now on StumbleUpon and FlipBoard (though I am not entirely sure how those platforms work). So find a way to share you #CabernetDay with me; I’d love to hear from you!
My Song Selection: One thing I love about California Cabs is they pair so well with rock n’roll. Furthermore, Cabernet Sauvignon, the king of the wine jungle, is always in demand. Therefore, my song selection rocks with these three wines and is in honor of the king of grapes, the one everybody wants.
Get your own bottle of Smith and Hook Cabernet Sauvignon and let me know what song you pair with it. Cheers!