Fetzer Cabernet Sauvignon is from the Hopland area of Mendocino County. The grapes come from many different vineyards, so forget terroir. Any trace of locality is impossible to detect.
For your calibration purposes, we drank the wine with a black bean soup. The soup was good and hot, but the wine was 72 degrees. Anne had opened the bottle several hours earlier to use as part of the soup.
The color was very deep ruby. The nose had a cassis – black currant – tinge to it along with a warm mulling spice hint as well. The mouthfeel – how weighty or thick the wine feels in the mouth – was thin without any viscosity.
There was sufficient acids in the wines to cut through simple tomato sauces or the beef stock in our bean soup. Still, the acids were somewhat out of balance – meaning there was more acid than fruit behind it and the alcohol was drying at the back of the palate. Tannins – the puckery astringency common to barrels and fruity wines in general – were less of an issue. Lower tannins make it easier to drink a wine sooner, so this wine is not a candidate for storage. And speaking of balance, the percentage of alcohol, at 13.5%, is technically rather moderate (and downright paltry compared to some high-alcohol fruit bombs popular today), but it was still slightly noticeable in the mouth.
The bottom line is the Fetzer is a decent Tuesday night spaghetti wine with no pretensions of greatness. Let’s face it, there are plenty of nights, like when you’re pooped and grumpy and a great bottle of wine just wouldn’t be appreciated. These are the nights for the Fetzer Valley Oaks.
The tasting calibration continues with the Blackstone Winery 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon. And again, this isn’t about us telling you what we think this wine should taste like. This is about you tasting this or a similar wine so that you know what we’re talking about when we mention, say, hints of cassis, one of the “standard” flavors for cabs.
So what the heck is cassis (pronounced cah-seess)? Well, turns out it’s a black currant plant, currants being the small, dark berries found on this particular shrub. The French make a liqueur from them called creme the nose, although it’s not too heavy. That’s the cassis. Michael also picked up some dark cherry in the smell, as well. The color is a really dark ruby.
Michael also caught some bing cherry on the back of his palate. At the same time, there was that light drying effect from tde cassis. Currants also taste a lot like raisins, in our humble opinion.
In fact, you can get some of that almost raisiny scent in he tannins in the wine, which is often described as “cleansing the palate.” The finish was decent, the flavor lingered for about 10 seconds. And overall, there’s a bit of oak in the wine, but not enough to get in the way of the fruit. That being said, the wine isn’t a fruit bomb, either, meaing all fruit and little else.
We figure this will do nicely as a food wine, maybe with a steak or a nice garlicky stew. But there is enough fruit that it does stand on its own – what we usually will call a cocktail wine. In fact, Anne argues that it’s closer to a cocktail wine.
So let us know what you come up with. We’re looking forward to hearing from you!
Anne Louise Bannon