ANSWERS – Back To School Wine Quiz

Thank you for participating in the Wine Star Back To School Wine Quiz! (If you haven’t taken it yet, go take it and then come read this.) I hope you all rewarded yourself with a nice glass of something for getting in the school spirit.  Here’s a little wine-know about each of the 15 items on the quiz.  Overall, we have some super Wine Knows following this blog!! I’m impressed!!

Cabernet Sauvignon (93% answered correctly!)

Grape Varietal

Cabernet Sauvignon is a well-known grape that often is used to make single-varietal wines (wines that only use this grape). It originates from Bordeaux, France where it is one of the major blending grapes used in red Bordeauxs.

 

Pinot Noir (100% answered correctly!)

Grape Varietal

I guess I don’t even need to explain this one since everyone got it right. But Pinot Noir is also often made as a single-varietal wine. It has some significant characteristic differences from its varied producing regions – fun to taste one from Oregon, from France, from New Zealand, etc!

 

Bordeaux (96% answered correctly!)

Region/Appellation

Bordeaux is a region in France that produces some of those most important – or influential – wines. There are several major blending grapes used in Bordeaux wines – for red they include Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot, and Petit Verdot.

 

Super Tuscan (67% answered correctly!)

This one was tricky… it would be more accurate to answer this one as “neither” a grape varietal or a region/appellation. But it is more closely aligned with a designated appellation than anything.

Basically, “Super Tuscan” refers to a wine made in Tuscany, Italy that most typically includes the grapes Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, Merlot, and/or Canaiolo. These wines have a lower “quality” designation based on Italian wine laws but only because they don’t follow all the rules in order to be labeled at the higher quality classification step. However, the original Super Tuscan wines are made by some of the most well known producers and have an innovative touch to them – especially when these first started to appear in the the 1970s. So while they are down a step on the classification scale, they are often up a step on price point (especially the more famous Super Tuscans such as Sassicaia, Tignanello, or Ornellaia). You won’t see “Super Tuscan” on a label, but you may see “Toscana IGT” (the appellation). Many restaurants refer to these wines as a “Super Tuscans” on their menu.

 

Chardonnay (81% answered correctly!)

Grape Varietal

This is a grape varietal – it is one of the most widely planted white wine grapes and is often used to produce wine made with 100% Chardonnay. Chardonnay originated in Burgundy, France – so if you’re buying a bottle of white Burgundy, it is Chardonnay!

 

Barolo (74% answered correctly!)

Region/Appellation

Barolo is a designated region within the northwestern part of Italy in Piemonte. You will see “DOCG” after “Barolo” on a label, which is indicative of its quality classification. Barolo is made with the Nebbiolo grape and is one of the few wines that can usually be aged for over 20 years!

 

Burgundy (81% answered correctly!)

Region/Appellation

This is a region in France that produces wines primarily made with Pinot Noir in reds and Chardonnay grapes in whites. So if you buy a red Burgundy, it is most likely Pinot Noir. (But will have some distinct differences from Pinot Noirs made in Oregon, for example!)

 

Riesling (96% answered correctly!)

Grape Varietal

Riesling is a grape that is often thought as one of the most food-friendly white wines. While many times it is used to produce sweet wines, there are plenty of dry or off-dry Rieslings as well!

 

Barbaresco (56% answered correctly!)

Region/Appellation

Like Barolo, Barbaresco wines come from the Piemonte region in northwest Italy and are made with the Nebbiolo grape. You’ll also see these wines with a quality designation of “DOCG” after “Barbaresco” on the label. It’s an indication (or confirmation) that the nebbiolo grapes are grown in this little zone of the Piemonte region and made according to the required practices.

 

Barbera (52% answered correctly!)

Grape Varietal

Barbera is another grape from Piemonte, Italy. These often make delightful, fruity wines that are great with food. You’ll often see “Barbera d’Alba” on the label.

 

Sangiovese (81% answered correctly!)

Grape Varietal

Sangiovese is one of Italy’s – specifically, Tuscany’s – most famous red grapes. If you’re drinking Chianti, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, or Brunello di Montalcino, it is made with mostly Sangiovese. Interestingly, I’ve had several lovely Arizona Sangiovese wines as well!

 

Moscato (89% answered correctly!)

Grape Varietal

This is a grape that produces the well known “Moscato d’Asti” – a sweet sparkling, or fizzy, wine. If you have tried a $6 bottle of Moscato (as they are often available at that price point) and hated it – try one in the $15+ range. You’ll notice a difference.

 

Chianti (81% answered correctly!)

Region/Appellation

Chianti is a region in Tuscany that primarily uses Sangiovese grapes. It can also be blended with Canaiolo and some others, but generally, when you’re drinking a Chianti or a Chianti Classico (a more specific region), you’re having mostly Sangiovese.

 

Champagne (96% answered correctly!)

Region/Appellation

We all know you can’t call a bottle of sparkling wine “champagne” unless it comes from Champagne, France. That is because it is a specific appellation that has very specific rules for how the wine is made. Champagne is made with Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier, and/or Pinot Noir.

 

Beaujolais (74% answered correctly!)

Region/Appellation

Beaujolais is a region in France that uses the grape, Gamay. Almost all the production from this region is for red wine. We often see “Beaujolais Noveau” in the fall – it is a young wine meant to be enjoyed immediately. But it is far more simple than a Beaujolais (non-noveau), so give them both a chance!

 

We’ll eventually explore all of these in more detail… are there any you’d like to know more about sooner than later?!

Divine Wine Sunday: Franciscan Cabernet Sauvignon

In my humble Wino opinion, a birthday should always be celebrated with a good bottle of wine. When I first enjoyed this week’s Divine Wine, it was during a birthday celebration with a bunch of friendly Winos. We ordered the bottle, none of us knowing quite what to expect.  We had the obligatory birthday “cheers’ing”….  and then we each took a sip.  Although it was now five years ago, I remember the moment clearly. I took a sip, and then – with the glass still held up in front of my face, I lifted my eyes from the glass and made eye contact with one of the other winos at the table. We held that eye contact for a moment, knowing we were both thinking the same thing. We were both in love…. with the wine.  Since then, I’ve had this wine a number of times and each time, have found myself savoring each sip (or gulp) from my glass.

Divine Wine of the Week: Franciscan Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley

Franciscan Cabernet Sauvignon

Franciscan Cabernet Sauvignon

Price Range: $15-20 at Costco, Total Wine, and most likely your favorite wine shop.

Wino Assessment: As previously noted, upon the first sip, there was nothing but love for this wine.  It is dry – has that woody/oaky flavor. But not at all chalky.  It also has a bit of that dark fruit flavor (plums, perhaps) that balances the dryness without making it too jammy or sweet.  In a way, this wine goes down like a smooth cup of coffee.  As you enjoy a few sips of the Franciscan Cab, the swirl of flavors are so satisfying that I swear you’ll suddenly start taking smaller sips because you just want it to last longer.

Tasting Notes: Here is what Franciscan Winery says about their Cabernet Sauvignon:

Aromas: Complex and vibrant aromas of red plum, anise, cherry, violets, and tobacco accentuated by notes of black currant, dried herbs, toasted oak, and cocoa.

Flavors: Elegant and supple texture on the palate make the frame for generous flavors of sweet plum and dark cherry, with notes of vanilla and mocha. Silky tannins and well-integrated structure tie together and linger in the finish.

The winery also has a nice write-up of the history of this wine, if you’re interested in reading more.

Franciscan Cab with tasty burger

Franciscan Cab with tasty burger

Divine Wine Bite: So now that you have the wine in hand, what should you eat with it? Cabernets generally have a lot of tannins, which typically make the wine taste a little more bitter (in the same way that dark chocolate might taste bitter), and also makes it taste dry. Because of that, Cabs tend to go well with red meat. The red meat’s protein and fattiness balance the bitter/dryness of the wine.  So try this wine with a nice grilled steak or grilled lamb.  I personally enjoyed it with this delicious burger tonight!

Divine Wine Sunday: Niner Cabernet Sauvignon

Last weekend, while enjoying a lovely dinner out on the Scottsdale scene (and just before hitting up my favorite dive karaoke bar), I had the pleasure of tasting this week’s Divine Wine. As previously mentioned here on Wino to Wine Know, I visited several of Paso Robles’s wineries last fall and on the list of wineries to visit was Niner.  Several people had suggested Niner as a good stop but I wasn’t able to fit it in among all the others at which I “sipped” vino.  So last week, when my dinner date suggested we order that Niner Cab off the Wildfish wine menu, I gladly agreed!  And much like the many other Paso Robles red wines I’ve tried, I thoroughly enjoyed it…

Before getting too far along, I would like to take a moment to say HAPPY PISCEAN BIRTHDAY to my blogging guru and friend, Miss Dreamer!!  May we try this Divine Wine together some day soon…

Divine Wine of the Week: Niner Cabernet Sauvignon (2007), Niner Winery, Paso Robles, CA

Price Range: $28 from the Winery, $44 at Wildfish, $30-ish for a Niner Winery bottle (Twisted Spur) at Olive & Ivy Marketplace, (have not seen it available at wine shops….yet)

Wino Assessment…

So some of you astute Winos may be thinking, “Wait, what? You went to a seafood restaurant and ordered a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon to go with your fish??”  To  you astute folk, I say, “Yes! Yes, I did.” To the few to none of you who may have no opinion on this, I say, don’t believe all the hype out there that fish can only be paired with white wine.  It isn’t true.  And I don’t know why people believe that red cannot go with fish. But that’ll be a future blog post on Thoroughly Wine Know Thursday some week…

Ok, so back to my assessment of the wine.  From the first sip, I knew I loved this wine… so much so that I wanted to take small sips to ensure it lasted for a while.  (That said, I generally find that big sips allow you to experience the flavor of the vino a bit more.) I’d say it is a medium to full bodied red.  Note that I want to say full-bodied more than medium, but have learned that whenever I think a wine is “full” it seems to be described as a medium-bodied wine by the experts… so I’m learning despite this consistently off instinct on wine verbiage. Now, I was just struggling to find the words that I wanted to use to describe the flavor of this wine, so I just referred back to the Flavors and Aromas list of a previous post, “Let’s Talk About Taste“.  I feel like this wine was woody or earthy to start with perhaps a black cherry type flavor, but had a silky smooth finish.  Essentially… just my kind of wine!  (Fear not… I shall keep expanding my horizons so that I don’t only write up wines like Niner’s Cabs here on this bloggity blog.)

The Grape…

On my last Divine Wine Sunday post, I passed off this section with the note that I had already written about Cabernet Sauvignon grapes on previous posts.  While there are many, many different kinds of grapes out there, I feel  like I’ll run into this “repeat” info on grapes type problem repeatedly. So I’m working on some changes to the content of posts, but for now, will not be repeating info on grapes here on Divine Wine Sunday.  (Stay tuned for blog revisions soon to come!!)

The Wine…

The Niner Winery has a very thorough “fact sheet” on this fine Divine Wine that covers information about the vineyard, the vintage, the winemaking process, and more.  I’ve copied the winery’s tasting notes here:

“This vintage is again classic Cabernet Sauvignon. It has pleasant herbal notes in the nose, along with lavender, dark red and black fruits, some tar and a little smoke. Flavors include cassis and dark cherry, with a hint of herbaceousness. It has a plump mid palate of dried cranberry, nice depth, fine tannins, and a long lasting finish.”

As usual, the winery description of the wine, once I hear it, seems spot on.  “Herbal notes” and “black fruit” and “a little smoke”… I wouldn’t say my description was spot on, but I don’t think it was too far off! (Am I giving myself too much credit??)  Also, when they say, “long lasting finish”, all I can think is, “exactly!  THAT’s what I meant!”  PS: I am going to incorporate “herbasceousness” into my daily vocabulary.

The other fun fact info on the winery’s fact sheet for this wine lists a few suggested food pairings.  While fish isn’t on the list, Cheddar Bacon Burgers are.  And quite frankly, anything that goes with a cheddar bacon burger has got to be a good wine in my book.  (Other suggested food pairings include Italian Roast Beef and Filet Mignon with Gorgonzola Sauce.)

The Region…

Paso Robles is a warmer areas of the Central Coast of California.  It is “sun-baked” and has “oak-studded hills” (The Wine Bible).  Due to the Santa Lucia mountains, the Paso region is blocked from the Pacific’s ocean air influences.  While the nights are cool, the days are hot and dry, which apparently is what grapes like cabernet sauvignon, zinfandel, and syrah thrive in.  And it seems that Niner’s Cab is made of grapes that did, indeed, thrive in this climate…

So there it is – the Divine Wine of the Week.  If you try and of Niner’s wines, I’d love to hear about it!

Divine Wine Sunday: Inconceivable Cab

Winos and Wine Knows alike… here it is… the most exciting Divine Wine yet to be presented here on Wino to Wine Know.  (Exciting in my book, anyway.)  A few weeks back, thanks to Action Dave, I learned about The Bottle of Wits – a wine made in honor of the 25th Anniversary of the  glorious movie, The Princess Bride.  And now, thanks to a loyal blog follower and blushing new Wino – we’ll call him “the Karate Kid” – I have had the pleasure of tasting The Bottle of Wits – Inconceivable Cab.  And without a doubt, regardless of what it tasted like, it HAD to be posted for name alone as the Divine Wine of the Week.  (Quick preview: lucky us – it ALSO tasted great!!)

Divine Wine of the Week: The Bottle of Wits, Inconceivable Cab, Cabernet Sauvignon,

The Bottle of Wits, Inconceivable Cab

Price Range: $28 from Alamo Drafthouse (and now available online!)

Note: The Alamo Drafthouse is actually a movie theater.  Their full title is the “Alamo Drafthouse Cinema”, and they celebrate a chosen movie each year via a special bottle/line of wine.  This year, in honor of the 25th anniversary of The Princess Bride, the Alamo Drafthouse bottled The Bottle of Wits. And we Princess Bride fans, who are also Winos, will forever be grateful.

Wino Assessment…

Disclaimer: Normally, I do not read about the wines that I’ve selected for Divine Wine Sunday until after I’ve written my own assessment.  Since I have been pretty darn excited about trying The Bottle of Wits (and because I had already blogged about it – though not as a “Divine Wine”), I felt it necessary to disclose that I did read the description of the bottle before writing my “Wino Assessment”.

That said, did I enjoy The Bottle of Wits Inconceivable Cab? YES!  And yes, you’re right.  I was slightly swayed by the idea of The Bottle of Wits… and then when I saw the packaging, I was swayed even more.  I thought, “there’s no way I won’t like this wine!”  I mean the box itself has lots of PB quotes all over it.  It indicates that the wine is “iocane free” … “most likely”.  How could a PB fan not love that?!

But ok – beyond the awesome packaging (both on the bottle and the box), the wine was very enjoyable!  For me, it was an ideal combination of that Cabernet dryness and a smooth fruit flavored finish.  The wine left your tongue a little chalky, but not so much that you needed a glass of water to accompany your glass of wine.

The Grape…

I have posted on Cabernet Sauvignon here on Wino to Wine Know before.  There is certainly more to say about this wine, but for the purpose of this post, I think it will serve it justice to reference the details of the grape from the previous Cab Sauvignon write-up.

The Wine…

The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema included a nice description of their Inconceivable Cab.

“Inconceivable Cab” is a 2009 vintage California Cabernet, with a deep ruby hue. The nose is all black currant with subtle hints of oak. Medium bodied, full of plum and black cherry fruit, balanced by firm acidity and tannins. On the finish, lingering notes of cedar and vanilla dominate. It is complex & intriguing, with no trace of iocane powder.”

For sure, I am happy to know that there was no iocane powder in this wine, for I have not yet built up my tolerance like the Dread Pirate Roberts.  That said, the power of suggestion is strong with me, and I totally agree that there were plum and black cherry flavors.  That and the “lingering notes of cedar…” are certainly accurate descriptions now that I’ve heard it after tasting this delightful red.  (Some day, I’ll be able to construct such elegant sentences to accurately describe vino.)

The Region…

California Cabs are recognized and respected around the world and the state plants about as many of these grapes as the Bordeaux region does.  Apparently, those crazy Californians from Stag’s Leap Winery beat out the Wine Know Frenchies back in 1973 in a blind tasting (funny because I just commented on this wine last week in the Wine Talk Leap Day post per CA Wino’s comment!).  In the late 1980s, California’s vines were hit with phylloxera (vine disease) which forced many parts of the region to replant all together.  But by the late 1980s, Cabernet Sauvignon grapes were replanted and in nearly twice the numbers they had been before the pesky vine disease. An interesting Cali Cab fun fact is that Cab grapes from Sonoma County have anise and black olive flavors, while Napa Valley Cab grapes tend to have black fruit flavors.

 

The Bottle of Wits, Alamo Drafthouse Cinema

In conclusion, I gotta say that I’m so glad this Inconceivable Cab is not only something I can and have now conceived, but also a wine that I truly enjoyed!! For the delight of the wine AND the fantastic packaging, I highly recommend ordering it if you’re a Princess Bride fan… or maybe you’ll be as lucky as me and have someone like the Karate Kid be kind enough to pick up a few bottles while visiting the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas.

Divine Wine Sunday: Kung Fu Girl Riesling

Winos – let’s be honest.  A lot of times we pick a wine out at the wine shop not because of the vintage or our Wine Know regarding that region or varietal or anything of the sort.  We pick it because of the label.  And THAT is exactly why I picked up Kung Fu Girl Riesling.

After I got home and looked at the label a little more closely, I realized this wine is made by a winery with which I’m already familiar – Charles Smith Wines. I’ve tried their Boom Boom Shiraz (at La Grande Orange in Phoenix and elsewhere) and their Chateau Smith Cabernet Sauvignon (at Kazimierz in Scottsdale) – the latter being one of my favorite wines, but both I enjoyed immensely.  Ordinarily, I think of Rieslings as overly sweet and – not having a sweet tooth when it comes to wine – I do not usually seek it out.  However, earlier this week, I was talking with Sister Kai (my actual sister, not a nun) who commented on how she enjoys Rieslings… AND I read something about how Rieslings pair with many different types of food.  So I took it as two indicators of needing to study up a bit on Rieslings.  And when I came across one from a winery that I knew I liked, it just seemed that the stars had aligned.

Diving Wine of the Week: Kung Fu Girl Riesling, Charles Smith Wines, Columbia Valley, Washington

Kung Fu Girl Riesling, Charles Smith Wines, Columbia Valley, WA

Price Range: $9.99 at Sunflower Market and other grocery stores, $12.00 from Charles Smith Wines

Wino Assessment…

I approach Rieslings with a bit of an attitude to start – primarily because of that presumed sweetness factor that I previously mentioned.  But if I had to guess what Kung Fu Girl was on a blind taste test, I probably would have guessed a Pinot Grigio.  The wine had flavors of apples and peaches or apricots and was very light and delicious.  Cousin K enjoyed the bottle with me and she has a similar feeling regarding Rieslings.  But for the sake of the blog, she went with it, and we both were pleasantly surprised at how enjoyable the wine was. Overall, it was light and easy to drink – it was sweet, but not sugary sweet – it was appley sweet… which was lovely.

The Grape…

Riesling grapes originate in Germany and have “been arguably the world’s most undervalued” grape. (The Oxford Companion to Wine) What makes the Riesling grape so impressive is its ability to not lose its unique style as a wine while allowing a winery to place its own characteristics on the end product.  The Riesling vine itself is extremely “cold-hardy” meaning it can withstand colder temperatures than most vines – convenient in its home (cold) region of Germany.  The difficult growing conditions in which Riesling grapes ripen results in the acid-sugar balance that is so uniquely Riesling-esque.  (The Wine Avenger)

The Wine…

According to The Wine Avenger, “no grape, white or red, goes better with more foods than Riesling.”  I was pretty surprised to read that as I would never have paired a Riesling with any food, quite frankly.  But The Wine Avenger also notes that Riesling is the most misunderstood wine.  The alcohol levels in Rieslings are below average, and the wines can range from dry to “opulently sweet”. (The Wine Avenger)  In fact, most Rieslings are around 8% alcohol content compared to about 13% for Chardonnays.  Depending on the wine-making process, most Rieslings are busting with flavor due to their “high acidity, high extract, and low alcohol levels”. (The Wine Bible)

As stated, I always associate these wines with über-sweetness, but Kung Fu Girl – while sweet in a fruity way – was not über-sweet.  (Do you like my use of a German word in the post about wine originating from the Germanic regions!?!).  I would indeed go and get another bottle of this wine to enjoy it on multiple occasions.

In general, Riesling typically has flavors of ripe peaches, apricots, and melons, and sometimes a mineral-like quality (The Wine Bible).  But what does Charles Smith have to say about Kung Fu Girl?

“A long cool awesome vintage. Heightened minerality. White stone fruit, you know, apricot, nectarine, peach also satsuma and lime leaves. This girl is kickass as ever! We love Riesling from Evergreen Vineyard in The Ancient Lakes area of the Columbia Valley AVA.”

90pts Wine Spectator

“Vivid, distinctive and immensely appealing for its juicy Winesap apple, apricot and citrus flavors, finishing with zing to balance the sweetness.”

Ummm… I’d just like to remind you Winos that I always write my assessment before looking up what the winery or world-wide-web says about a wine that I’m blogging about.  And can I just say that apples, apricots, and peaches were ALL in my description!?! (Having a proud moment here…)

The Region…

Riesling’s home is Germany and is very popular in Austria and Alsace (which is the French side of the Franco-German border).  But Kung Fu Girl comes from Columbia Valley in Washington State.  This state is known for its “bright fruit and relatively crisp acidity” in wines (The Oxford Companion to Wine).  White grapes are the most commonly planted grapes in the state, and Rieslings in particular do especially well.  The region in general prides itself on high value wines for less than high dollar (something most of us Winos appreciate).

 

I especially hope you all give this wine a try as it was surprisingly delicious in my humble Wino opinion (for Ms. Snodgrass, that abbreviation is IMHWO).  If you do, let me know what you think!

 

[Source for all Wine Know, unless otherwise stated, is The Oxford Companion to Wine.]

 

Divine Wine Sunday: Kirkland Signature Napa Cabernet Sauvignon

Happy Divine Wine Sunday!!… or Monday. I seem to have a rough time getting my post completed on Sunday… but hey, wine is divine no matter the day, right?

One of my favorite places to shop is Costco. Yes, I am just one person, but I have an enormous refrigerator and lots of cabinet space. So buying the 5 gallon jug of dish soap or 24 cans of tomato sauce or 20 breasts of frozen chicken is not really a problem. And guess what else isn’t a problem… the wine section! Despite Costco’s packaging of most products in at least a two-pack and up to a gazillion-pack, they do offer regular old single bottles of wine for excellent Costco prices.

I don’t often buy the same bottles of wine from wine stores – primarily because I like to try something new, and there are so many wines out there to taste. But Costco, in all its glory, has a relatively small selection of wines that I find very enjoyable for a very reasonable price. That’s their thing… offer less of a selection of wine, but keep the value high. Of the “Kirkland” labeled wines, I have found all that I’ve tried to be quite tasty, and I’m repeatedly purchase the the same wines from the warehouse. So today, I am highlighting the one that I consistently look for on every Costco adventure.

Divine Wine of the Week: Kirkland Signature Napa Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, CA

Kirkland Signature Napa Cabernet Sauvignon

Price Range: $12.99 at Costco!

Wino Assessment: I generally like Cabernet Sauvignons quite a bit. And this one is among my favorite “every day wines”. (Yes, that will go in the glossary when I get around to making it.) To me, it is medium-bodied but full of “ripe fruit” flavors. What do I mean by that… I’m not totally sure… working through these words myself. It isn’t tart but it isn’t overly fruity. It is somewhere in between – perhaps a little cherry-like or plum-like but with a tinge of earthiness (which I love). I hate to admit this in words on the world wide web, but it is not hard for me to finish one of these bottles off in one evening…. for me, it’s very drinkable. (Wow – if that isn’t an ambiguous wino assessment, I don’t know what is!)

The Grape…

Cabernet Sauvignon. I feel like we have talked about this grape already on Wino to Wine Know, but apparently we have not – not on Divine Wine Sunday (or Monday) anyway. Cabernet Sauvignon (which I will refer to as “Cab” from hereon out in this post), is one of two of the world’s most popular grapes. (Merlot is the other.) It is a dark-skinned grape variety and it is based out of Bordeaux in France. Cab grapes are typically mixed with other grapes to make a Bordeaux wine, but there are certainly plenty of wines that are 100% (or majority) Cab. This grape has an ability to help a winemaker use the grape to make the wine that s/he wants to make. It is highly dependent on the terroir (the elements associated with the climate and soil and many other factors of where the vines are planted… more on terroir in a future post), and is a good candidate for longer bottle aging (meaning, Cabs may sit in their bottles for years and become one of those wines you save for a special occasion).

An interesting fun fact about Cabernet Sauvignon – its “parent” grapes are believed to be Cabernet Franc (a black grape) and Sauvignon Blanc (a white grape). This development was believed to have happened way back when (that’s an official time period) via some mixture of the two “parent” vines.

The Wine…

Cabernet Sauvignon is a crucial part of French wines, where it is commonly blended with other grapes. Why blend? Well while the Cab provides “structure” and has a lot of tannins, it needs to balanced by other grapes to make the wine interesting. While the French often blend their Cab grapes with others, Napa Valley offers a lot of 100% / majority Cab grape wines. Because of this, the Napa Cabs tend to be “dense, purple-black, jammy and tasting of currants and black cherries.” (The Wine Enthusiast Magazine) I really like Bordeauxs and I really like Cabs, so I guess I’m a winner either way!

Costco doesn’t offer a lot of info about their wines, in particular their Kirkland Signature labels. But they do offer a Costco Wine Blog! (Who knew!?!) Check it out – it shares a bit about what Costco offers in general when it comes to wine. You may be wondering about the Kirkland Signature label. If you’re not a Costco shopper, you should know that “Kirkland” is Costco’s brand name (I believe that is due to their home base of Kirkland, Washington, where one of my favorite Dreamers was born.) According to Serious About Wine, Costco serves as a distributor for small lots of wine and slaps their label on the bottle. (Ok, there’s probably a bit more to it than that…) They are small lots in general with about 2000 cases – which is possibly big for a winery, but small for a major warehouse like Costco. If you check out the post on Serious About Wine, you’ll learn a bit about the distribution methodology that Costco has laid out with regard to the “Kirkland Signature” label.

What does the Costco Wine Blog say about their 2009 Kirkland Signature Napa Cab? (I should note that I’m not sure how official this Costco wine blog is, but it looks pretty decent to me.)

“This is a good mid-week, everyday Napa Cab that’s $12.99 at Costco.And the wine is good, nice for the price, and after some air it started to open up into a fairly decent wine.

Cherry aromas, dark fruit flavors with a little chocolate, medium to full in body, and the finish was nice and smooth. I like Napa Cabs and I hunt for the best at these price points, and this one is definitely a contender. But I just didn’t find anything to push it over the edge. Nice wine, good price. Worth dropping in the cart.

I’m pretty happy with the pairing of my Wino Assessment to the Costco Wine Blog Assessment. At least when I read the Costco Wine Blog, I am thinking, “Yes! That’s what I meant!”

The Regions…

So Cabs are among the most popular grapes to plant in the wine world. But here on this post, I am only going to talk about California since this Cab is from that fine state neighboring my home state of Arizona. Apparently Cabs are the basis fo the “California Cult” wines. What, you ask, is a “California Cult” wine? Well, apparently it was a phrase used in the 1990s that were typically Cabs (but not exclusively Cabs) made in California and typically Napa Valley for which high rollers would pay higher prices than that of Bordeaux’s “first growths” (to put it simply, top ranking wines in Bordeaux). So as you can imagine, Napa loves its Cabs… as does the world of wine drinkers. It is an important grape across the world and will certainly be highlighted on this Wino’s world wide web space in the future!!

Hope you feel like you “Wine Know” more about Costco wine and Napa Cabs!! Have you tried this Costco wine or any of their other Kirkland Signature labels? What did you think!??!

[Source of Wine Knowledge in this post is The Oxford Companion to Wine.]