The celebrated wine-growing terroir of Bordeaux and Napa Valley are the places most associated with the “grande dame” of red wine grapes – Cabernet Sauvignon. Although half a world away from each other, both regions cultivate and promote this storied grape with a combination of viticultural expertise and marketing savvy.
So, with demand comes a plethora of plantings, which in turn, produce high yields – and unfortunately, some bulk juice: Lower-end Bordeaux and Napa Cabs are uninspiring. What about changing the location – even slightly? Would that help achieve value? It just might work.
“The vigorous nature of Cabernet Sauvignon [allows it to] thrive in a multitude of environments and climates,” says Michael Taylor, Wine Director at Italian Village in Chicago’s Loop. “It picks up the individual terroirs from the different soils and produces a stylistically different wine from Napa or Bordeaux. Personally, I find that very exciting.”
Below are a couple of Cabernet sleepers. They aren’t trying to produce the next “bottle shock,” but are still focused on elevated quality – without, of course, an excessively elevated price:
Casa Silva Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2008: From the Colchagua Valley of Chile, this is a standout for the price ($9 at Binny’s), and has potent aromas of dark cherry and subtle aspects of pipe tobacco. Flavors are of intense, dark fruit – but structure reins them in nicely. Pleasant tannins mark the finish. Great wine to serve with a strip-loin roast and buttered, boiled potatoes.
Foxglove Cabernet Sauvignon 2007: A Californian, but from Paso Robles – a region still emerging when compared with Napa Valley. It’s all black fruit and intriguing elements of sweet spice. Medium- to full-bodied, it can be enjoyed now, or even aged a couple of years. Serve with roasted or grilled beef, accompanied by white/wild rice or home fries. It’s $11 at Wine Discount Center.