I received these wines for review purposes. The opinions are all my own.
Once again, I have brought outside my winey comfort zone, courtesy of my pals at the Wine Chateau. Because while I love my Cabernet Sauvignon, I would never, ever have chosen a bottle of Domaine De La Charbonniere Cuvee Mourre Des Perdrix Chateauneuf-Du-Pape 2007 for myself. I mean seriously - look at that name. I'd need review of my high school and college French classes simply to not die pronouncing it, much less pick it up off a shelf and bring it home.
But the Wine Chateau powers that be decided to send me a bottle (phew!), along with two Cabernet Sauvignons for my sipping and reviewing pleasure. I'll tell you about them in the order that I sipped them.
I had to open the Estancia Estates Cabernet Sauvignon (2010, 13.5%, CA) right away because I had tried this before...but under somewhat odd circumstances. I had hosted part of a neighborhood progressive dinner and a different vintage of this cab was left over afterwards. I did have some, and I was curious to know if I'd like it more (or less) when it wasn't leftover and I wasn't exhausted after hosting dessert and wine for 35 people. The nose on this is cherry with a tinge of oak. Both of the aromas are very deep, too, so you get a real snoutfull as you sniff. It tastes of of dark cherries wit some pepper on the edges and mocha in the middle. While I wouldn't dump a bunch of chocolate and pepper on a bowlful of cherries, I have to say that they do very well in a Cabernet Sauvignon. This is a great wine if you like bigger reds. It finished very balanced, with just a tiny touch of drying oak at the end of it all. There was fruit, but that certainly wasn't the dominant taste. Ditto the oak. So, if you like your reds oaked, but not obnoxiously so, this is one for you. (And it's on sale for about $13 at the Wine Chateau..down from $22.)
Next up was the Benziger Family Winery's Cabernet Sauvignon (2009, 14.5%, Sonoma County, CA). A new winery for me, so I was excited about that. This wine opens with a nose of roses, mocha and tart currants. It tastes of sour cherry and oak with a hint of dusty chocolate. (No, I don't let my chocolate get dusty - like it would last that long - but if I did, it would taste like this.) The cherry hits you first and then the oak makes itself known. It finishes of oak and chalky tannins (and by chalky I mean not sharp, not juicy - they were chalky). My first thought was that the tannins might be a teeny bit too far onto the drying side for me to buy it again. Then I decided that what this wine needed was some food to go with it. Maybe a nice juicy steak to soften those tannins! I really think that paired with the right food, this would be a great dinner wine. So while I wouldn't sip it by itself again, I would totally consider it as a wine to serve with a special dinner.
And then I had to face up to my fears: it was time to try the Chateauneuf-Du-Pape (2007, 14%, France). Chateauneuf-Du-Pape is a region (appellation) in France's Rhone Valley, and they allow 13 different varietals to be used in their wine. (It's mostly a red wine, but you can find a white here and there.) The Domaine De La Charbonniere winery used Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre in this cuvee. It opens with a nose of smoke and fresh cut oak, with just a whiff of ripe cherry. I was surprised at how it felt in my mouth. It was thinner than the nose indicated and it was almost tingly. Not quite all the way to tingly, so I'm going to go with spicy. It tasted of fruity oak with a smoky tinge around the edges and the top of my mouth.
I was fine up until the finish...coffee. Yup, my old nemesis. The Winey Hubby and I are not big coffee fans. And by not big fans I mean that we don't drink it. Our mugs are firmly planted in the tea drinkers side of the aisle, and there they shall remain, despite the attempts by BOTH of our mothers (and countless other family and friends) to bring us over to the coffee side. If it had just stopped short of the coffee thing, I would have said I really enjoyed my first sip of a Chateauneuf-Du-Pape. But it didn't. Bummer.
Now, for you coffee lovers out there, please taste this on your own. Don't let my lack of a coffee-loving tastebud or two scare you away from this wine. It had such a unique feel to it that I really want to try some other Chateauneuf-Du-Papes to get a feel for the entire appellation. So now I have a mission. Vive la France!
I received these wines in order to review them. The opinions expressed are mine and mine alone. Except for the coffee thing: the Winey Hubby has the same opinion of coffee as I do.