Some wines are attractive because they are just really delicious. Other wines are attractive because they are different; they offer something unexpected and encourage exploration. After tasting through a series of Napa Cabs that all seemed to taste alike, this one jumped out at me. It was pushing in a different direction away from the cassis and cedar with firm, dusty tannins toward something almost inexplicable and hard to grasp. It turned out to be a Cabernet from Paso Robles where sharp diurnal temperature differences and long, hot summers produce a riper, softer style of Cabernet.
After spending an evening getting to know it better, it is less impressive. It’s like the alternative guy you find interesting to talk to but with whom you’re not about to fall in love.
Intense, chocolate-covered raisin encasing black raspberry jam and a little barnyard on the nose. The fruit unfortunately is stewed and lacks freshness. Big, mouth-filling, dried fruit on the palate, fleshy without carrying too much weight. Excellent acidity keeps this lively on the palate; the flavors swell in the mouth with black cherry and allspice carrying through the medium length finish that turns a little too tart for my taste. Tannins are so soft they disappear.
This is offered at a good price if you’re looking for something different; it’s interesting but I didn’t swoon.
The grapes were harvested from Mossfire Ranch vineyard on the East side of Paso Robles. The soft tannins and chocolate notes are typical characteristics of Paso Cabs. But it doesn’t have the brightness I expect from a Paso cab and the lack of tannic structure throws the finish out of balance.
Drink while listening to Animal Collective.
Price: $20 Ave.