Wine consumers often are confused by varietal bottlings (wines made primarily from a single grape variety that typically display the name of that variety on the label). There are many varietal wines and more are created all the time as wine producers realize that such specificity can lead to higher margins and, perhaps, higher quality as well.
Here I focus on single varietal red wines made in the New World from four of the five primary red grapes that originated in Bordeaux, France: cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot, and malbec (I have not recently tasted a varietal petit verdot and so there is no such recommendation below). Each grape has its own strengths and weaknesses, and only rarely in Bordeaux are bottles filled with only one of them. Blends are an integral part of the process in much of Europe, but in other wine producing areas there has long been a trend toward separating out each strain. The bottles listed below reinforce this point, with the most popular grape overall (cabernet sauvignon) comprising most of the recommendations.
Most wine lovers are at least somewhat familiar with the five red Bordeaux grapes in single variety form. If you are not it is time to educate yourself. There is much to celebrate in these iconic grapes, particularly when it comes to those expressions originating in the New World.
BEN WILL BE IN BULGARIA AND TURKEY, INCLUDING SOFIA AND ISTANBUL, AUGUST 8 – 18
Ben has been invited to tour the food and wine of Bulgaria (including Sofia) and Turkey (including Istanbul) in mid-August. Follow along with him on Twitter (@WineOnTheRoad), Facebook (Wine On The Road), LinkedIn (Benjamin Weinberg) and Foursquare (Ben Weinberg).
BEN’S ARTICLE ON THE RUTHERFORD DUST SOCIETY IN EDIBLE MARIN AND WINE COUNTRY MAGAZINE’S SUMMER EDITION
Ben has an article about the Rutherford Dust Society in the Napa Valley (as well as a sidebar on legendary grape grower Andy Beckstoffer’s contribution to Rutherford’s wine scene) in the summer edition of Edible Marin and Wine Country Magazine (www.ediblemarinandwinecountry.com). The summer edition will include stories on the recent Napa earthquake and also the Rutherford Dust Society. Check it out!
BEN’S WINE COUNTRY PICTURES ARE FOR SALE
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WINE ON THE ROAD’S LUXURIOUS, BEHIND-THE-SCENES WINE TOURS
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Trapiche Malbec Oak Cask 2012 (Uco Valley, Argentina) $10
Purple-red/blackberry, red flowers, flint/smoke, spicy blueberry/himod
Luigi Bosca La Linda Malbec 2012 (Mendoza, Argentina) $12
Ruby/pomegranate rose petal/cinnamon, red cherry, black pepper/medmod
Trapiche Broquel Malbec 2011 (Uco Valley, Argentina) $15
Purple/toast, black pepper, red plum/black cherry, cinnamon/medmod
Achaval-Ferrer Malbec 2013 (Mendoza, Argentina) $25
Red purple/mace, copper, red cranberry/tangerine, charcoal, granite blackberry/himod
Catena Alta Malbec 2011 (Mendoza, Argentina) $50
Black red/black cherry, ash/sweet cherry, red licorice/hilong
Clayhouse Malbec Red Cedar Vineyard (Paso Robles, California) $14
Vibrant purple/violet, tobacco, orange zest/fennel, vanilla, black cherry/medlong
Columbia Winery Merlot (Columbia Valley, Washington) $16
Blue black/toast, plum/blackberry, vanilla/himod
Charles Krug Merlot 2011 (Napa Valley, California) $20
Red-blue/black cherry, raspberry/mocha, red currant, vanilla/medlong
Flora Springs Merlot 2013 (Napa Valley, California) $30
Cherry red/tobacco, blackberry/dark cherry, cola, strawberry/hilong
Hourglass Merlot Blueline Estate 2012 (Napa Valley, California) $75
Bright red/red currant, lead pencil/red cherry, spice/hilong
Hourglass Cabernet Franc Blueline Estate 2012 (Napa Valley, California) $135
Blue red/sage, red cherry, bramble/blueberry, violet, ash/hilong
Buried Cane Cabernet Sauvignon (Columbia Valley, Washington) $14
Limpid red/black currant, red cherry/molasses, black plum, mushroom/medmod
Clayhouse Cabernet Sauvignon Red Cedar Vineyard (Paso Robles, California) $14
Purple/black cherry, red currant, cedar/vanilla, black cherry, plum/medmod
William Hill Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Central Coast 2012 (California, U.S.) $17
Dark red/blackberry, dark cherry/pepper, chocolate, toasty oak/hilong
Mettler Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Estate (Lodi, California) $25
Black red/black cherry, cedar, cinnamon/cassis, black raspberry, toast/hilong
Arrowood Cabernet Sauvignon 2011(Sonoma County, California) $35
Dark red/red strawberry, purple blackberry/sage, currant, coffee/hilong
Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley 2011 (Sonoma County, California) $53
Dark red/cranberry, currant, basil/cassis, chocolate, tobacco, allspice/hilong
Trione Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley 2010 (Sonoma County, California) $67
Black red/black currant, cardamom/clove, red raspberry, cola/hilong
Mt. Brave Cabernet Sauvignon Mount Veeder 2011 (Napa Valley, California) $75
Dark ruby/espresso, blueberry/anise, violet/hilong