Posts Tagged ‘Cabernet Sauvignon’

By Claire Yeading, Grand Crew Contributor

Are you confused about the health benefits of wine? It’s not surprising! Check out any story in the media and you’ll find literally hundreds of contrasting views. Whereas one story will claim French wines can help keep you looking youthful, maintain a sharp mind, and even reduce the risk of heart disease, other stories tell of the many dangers of alcohol consumption. It’s hard to know what to believe and what to take with a pinch of salt, isn’t it? We all know the risks associated with heavy drinking, but then there is something to be said for the French Paradox – the fact that there are significantly lower cases of heart attack, obesity, and cancer in France — where wine consumption is rife — than in other parts of the world.

It appears that it’s not the wine itself that’s renowned for its health benefits, but rather the type of wine, and the type of grape. For example, white wines are believed to have very limited benefits, whereas certain reds are proven to have many positive effects on human health. The big question is – which wines will give you the greatest benefits?


The Girò grape is thought to have originated in Eastern Spain. Today Girò is commonly found throughout Sardinia, most notably in the Cagliari and Oristano area,s which are two of Sardinia’s biggest and most important wine growing regions. Whilst growing, the grapes produce large quantities of sugar, and they are often left on the vine well after harvesting season, allowing them to shrivel slightly and concentrate the sugars. The result is a very sweet, thick wine similar to a dessert or fortified wine. So what makes Girò so good health-wise? Apart from high quantities of sugar, Girò also contains a large number of Procyanidins – a natural compound frequently found in apples, peanut skin, and cocoa beans. Procyanidins have been found to encourage follicle growth in much the same way as some common alopecia drugs on the market. However, the results are believed to be much more restrained than when using medicines specifically designed for combating male pattern baldness. As a natural solution, however, it’s thought to be very effective.

Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the most widely recognized and widely drunk wines in the world. In fact, go to any bar and order a ‘red wine’ and chances are you’ll end up with a glass filled with a rich and fruity Cabernet Sauvignon. The reason for this is simple – the grape is grown all around the world. In fact, practically all major wine-producing regions will grow and harvest their own Cabernet Sauvignon. The differences in flavor largely come from how long the berries are left on the vine, and the weather conditions. Cooler conditions tend to produce a blackcurrant taste, whereas late harvests tend to create a somewhat sharp and bitter flavor that’s sought after by many. Other than being tasty, how can Cabernet Sauvignon help you? Compounds in the grape’s skin have been found to be a necessary part of wound healing. Research shows that Cabernet Sauvignon can work better at healing wounds than regular applications of lubricants such as petroleum jelly, encouraging faster tissue regrowth over the site of the wound.

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is yet another very common grape variety, and one that is grown, harvested, and served throughout the world. However, some connoisseurs argue that Burgundy produces the best Pinot Noir, full of fruit flavours such as strawberries and raspberries, whereas varieties from the US and Australia, for example, have somewhat of a more earthy taste. Regardless of taste, Pinot Noir has the potential to be very good for our health. Why? Because the grape has been found to contain very high levels of quercetin – a flavonoid often found in fruits. Quercetin is one of the most important antioxidants in existence, and boasts a variety of health benefits. Research suggests that the risk of certain cancers, bone conditions, and diseases related to the heart can all be lessened with increased consumption of quercetin. So don’t feel guilty for pouring yourself a glass!

Despite the complex argument over whether wine really is good for you or not, there is significant evidence to suggest that some wines, particularly those made from red grapes, can do more good than harm. If you’re looking for a way to boost your health whilst not giving up all your favorite treats, then indulging in a glass of wine or two every so often is perhaps one of the best ways to maintain a happy and healthy lifestyle.


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I just returned home from a 2-month political campaign project in San Bernardino, Southern California, A.K.A. “San Berdoo”. I was pleseantly surprised to find two bottles waiting for me, sent for review from Colchester Ridge Estate Winery (CREW) out of Ontario, Canada. Let’s see how they hold up! This will be my first tasting ever of a Lake Erie North Shore VQA.

Test subject one is a Chardonnay, Riesling, Gewurztraminer blend. Test subject number two is a limited production, “Grand Crew”-labeled blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

Lake Erie North Shore VQA 101: “Lake Erie North Shore appellation encompasses the vineyards in the southwestern extremity of Ontario. This favourable southerly location combined with the warming effect of the shallow waters of Lake Erie allow this appellation to enjoy a long growing season and promotes ripe fruit with a perfect balance between natural sweetness and acidity. Lake Erie North Shore has a long growing season and the highest number of heat units of all of Ontario’s viticultural areas. The light-textured, well-drained soils around the lakeshore contain mostly sandy loam and gravel deposits punctuated by small, irregular stony ridges, which overlay shale limestone bedrock. (The region) benefits from the quick summer warming of the shallow waters of Lake Erie as well as from an abundance of sunshine during the growing season. Early harvests are the norm, with picking usually beginning at the end of August and late-harvest often reach their peak by late October.” –VQA Ontario

“Posh Cuvée” Lake Erie North Shore 2011
Tasting Notes: 12.1% vol. Chardonnay-Riesling-Gewurztraminer blend. Light, straw-yellow in the glass. Slightly cosmetic on the nose, with notes of tropical fruit and apple. In the mouth, the attack offers a nice acidity, balanced by a silky-smooth texture. This is a full-bodied, semi-sweet white, displaying tangy flavors, similar to the nose – green apples and indistinguishable tropical fruits. The finish is a bit sour. An overall decent wine, lacking in complexity and expression and a bit too linear, but still quite tasty.
Rating: 12/20 (82/100)
Price: $13 CAD @ colchesterridge.com

“Grand Crew Reserve” Lake Erie North Shore 2008
Tasting Notes: 14.5% vol. Cabernet sauvignon-Merlot blend. Barrel-aged 4 years. Small lot production, 105 cases. Deep, dark red in the glass. A rich and powerful nose with notes of dark fruits, berries-a-plenty, vanilla spice and pretty floral aromas. The 14.5% alcohol definitely comes out, but without any unpleasantries. Quite to the contrary, the complexity and beautiful aromas make this wine very welcoming on the nose. A bit too sour on the attack but the sweet tannins help to balance out the mid-palate. There are flavors of dark chocolate and blackberries. This wine is a bit disjointed, performing much better on the nose than on the palate. The alcohol is a bit over-powering as a stand-alone wine BUT let’s be clear, this wine was made with rich and hearty meals in mind. This is a quality wine and gets my recommendation, although the $50 price tag seems a bit much.
Rating: 14/20 (87/100)
Priace: $50 CAD @ colchesterridge.com

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Just a stunner.

2008 Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon – The Montelena Estate

Appellation: Napa

Notes:  Stunning.  Still a little young, but wonderful structure, fruit, and creaminess.  Like drinking velvet.  A very nice juxtaposition of California Cab and Bordeaux, it has the American cluster but settles down with a great deal of refinement, much like an AMG can smoke the tires, but still be a wonderful grand touring car. Delicious.

Price: $150 at North Charles Fine Wines and Spirits.

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Got a few wines from The Thomas Collective, the folks behind Wines of Chile. Tasted one today.

2009 Koyle Riserva Cabernet Sauvignon

Appellation: Colchagua, Chile

Notes: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% ABV. The nose is fruit and wood, with a little must, but not so much that you think it’s corked. Chocolate covered cherries that have been in a cedar chest in the basement (which isn’t bad, mind you). Finish is astringent, though, making the wine off balance. That’s unusual, because they usually send excellent examples. I wouldn’t search this out. OK.

Price: Unknown, this was a sample.

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Segway: I first discovered this wine at the Brookside Golf & Country Club Open House Wine and Spirits Tasting, with my dad. It was all the rave and I remember thinking it was pretty good but not paying too much attention to it, since I was more focused on the socializing than I was the wine. I forget the details but the generalities behind the story of this wine are that William Kavney apparently bought the best wines that were left over from the production of some top Napa producers. He then blends them together to make his small production creation with a Bulldog logo on the clearly hand-crafted label.

The story behind the Hausfrau Haven wine store is pretty cool too. Hausfrau Haven is where I purchased the William Kavney Cellars bottle. I was asking around at the open house, trying to pinpoint who in Ohio distributed and/or retailed Guigal wines. I was a winemaking apprentice, A.K.A. Cellar Rat, at Guigal during the 2009 vintage and so naturally I’m deadset on getting my hands on one of the 2009 LaLas. I’m pretty damn proud to be able to say that I helped make those wines and was part of the EPIC 2009 vintage. By the way I was also part of spilling a few thousand dollars worth of wine on the cellar floor, after failing to properly fasten one of the pumps. I considered it an offering to the French wine gods. LaLa, by the way, is the nickname for Guigal’s top single-vineyard Cote-Roties (La Turque, La Mouline and La Landonne) that demand between 3 and 5 bills a bottle! But more importantly, these are some AMAZING wines!

So how the hell does Guigal have anything to do with this William Kavney Cellars tasting, other than me selfishly plugging my 2009 vintage? Well nothing yet, except that after asking around at the Open House, I was told that the top wine buyer in Columbus was Faye, owner of Hausfrau Haven wine store and “the best palate in Ohio”. And additionally, I was told that she would be the best bet for finding a bottle of a Guigal LaLa. So I dropped in for a visit to Hausfrau and sure enough they carried Guigal, including the LaLas! Now my name’s on the list for the 2009 vintage, which is still in the barrel btw, and won’t be in the shop for another 6 to 12 months. Some of the LaLas are aged for up to 4 years in barrel. Now that’s what I call barrel ageing!

Sorry I understand that I STILL haven’t got to the point of today’s tasting. So much buildup I know! Well the closing chapter of this saga is that after speaking to one of the wine reps and asking for his favorite bottle under $20, he immediately grabbed the William Kavney Cellar 2007 Cab, the exact same wine that was all the rave at the Brookside Open House. The End!

William Kavney Cellars “Cabernet Sauvignon” Napa Valley 2007
Tasting Notes: 100% cabernet sauvignon, 13.8% vol. Dark ruby red in the glass. A decent amount of alcohol on the nose, accompanied by pleasant and subtle notes of black fruits, cinnamon and vanilla spice. Silky-smooth texture up front, followed by strong fruit, black cherry jam, good balance of acidity and finishing with dry tannins and notes of dark chocolate and oak. Certainly nothing magical and not all the rave, BUT definitely an overall enjoyable wine.
Rating: 15/20 (89/100)
Price: US$20 @ Hausfrau Haven in German Village, Columbus, Ohio

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Last weekend we hosted a small dinner party for 3 other couples.  For dinner, we served a spice crusted duck via Avec Eric (the base recipe can be found here, although I used very large breasts and grilled them, but the idea is the same).

Protip:  have your fire extinguisher handy when grilling duck on a gas grill.

Anyway, it was a bit of a celebratory weekend for us, so we decided to open a few bottles we’d been saving for just such an occasion.  Here’s how they were.

First, we opened our most prized bottle, a 2002 Silver Oak Napa Cabernet . (5/5. $100 when I got it, but now unavailable from the winery.)  We’ve been to Silver Oak in Napa twice, and I had tasted this wine at the winery. I bought the bottle locally a few years ago, and was a bit concerned that it hadn’t been stored well before I got it, but knowing how much we liked it and how special the wine is, we gave it a go.

We decanted it, but not for long, perhaps 15 minutes.  The main point was to make sure we didn’t have any sediment issues.  It was as expected – fantastic.  It was an excellent match with the duck, the spiciness and richness of the dish were complimented by the big bold Cabernet.  A wonderful wine and a great pairing.

After finishing that bottle, we opened a 2002 Chateau Langoa Barton (5/5, $50.)  From Saint Julien and bottled at the Chateau, this is predominately a Cab, but probably a similar blend to the Silver Oak.  Decanted it while we were finishing the Silver Oak, again, maybe 10-15 minutes.

This Bordeaux was also a stunner, more rounded, less bombastic than the Silver Oak.  An excellent wine, velvet in the mouth, with just the right balance of fruit, acid, and tannins.  A good time to drink it, in my opinion, although it certainly had the structure to keep for years.  Also a great match with the duck.

Comparing the two brought about some interesting conversation.  The Silver Oak was bigger and bolder, and tasted younger.  The Langoa Barton was more refined, less bold and more earthy.  There were clear differences in style of wines that were similar blends, and both were outstanding.

After the two big boys, I decided to open something I had just picked up at my local wine store (Chesapeake Wine).  The owner of the store and I have similar palates; if he likes it, I tend to like it.  He had raved about this 2010 Chateau Les Arromans (4/5, $14).  While I thought it might be a bit young, I picked up a bottle just to see.

Glad I did.

It was certainly different from the first two.  Not over the top, but far more fruit driven, with good structure, but the tannins weren’t in the way… this isn’t something I would hold on to for very long, but right now, it’s a fun wine.  Juicy, mouth watering, and screaming to be drunk with food.  Again, a pretty good match with the duck, although in a different way, picking up more on the spiciness than the richness.

All in all, a fun comparison, and a good meal with some great wine.

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Cousiño-Macul “Antiguas Reservas Cabernet Sauvignon” Valle del Maipo 2005
Tasting Notes: 100% cabernet sauvignon, 14% vol. Dark ruby-red, almost blood-like, in the glass. Fresh, rich, bold, and fruity on the nose. There is strong alcohol balanced by an elegant bouquet of black fruits and spices. There are smooth yet bitter tannins in the mouth. This wine is full-bodied, with dominant flavors of bitter dark chocolate, almost even rubber bandy. A decent balance is displayed by flavors of dark fruits, spices, and good acidity.
Rating: 14/20 (87/100)
Price: US$ 16.99

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