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VOL. 127 | NO. 59 | Monday, March 26, 2012



Sleek, Elegant California Red Worth a Look

FREDRIC KOEPPEL | Special to The Memphis News

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I’m in the mood for a pretty darned sleek and scintillating California cabernet sauvignon wine today, how about you? I thought so. Let’s turn, however, not to the Napa Valley or Alexander Valley, famed for their cabernets, but to an area north of Napa and east of Sonoma, and that’s Lake County. Specifically, Lake County’s Red Hills AVA – American Viticultural Area – approved by the TTB in 2004, TTB standing for the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, the entity of the federal government that oversees the American wine industry.

Our wine is the Obsidian Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, Red Hills, Lake County, a product of the Tricycle Wine Co. that also makes the chardonnays and pinot noirs of the Molnar Family label and Kazmer & Blaise. The Obsidian Ridge Cabernet ’08 is made from six distinct block of the Obsidian Ridge Vineyard, perched at an elevation of 2,640 feet. The wine is a blend of 94 percent cabernet sauvignon grapes and 3 percent each cabernet franc and petit verdot. Interestingly, the winery uses neither French nor American oak barrels to age the wine; this is all Hungarian oak barrels, 50 percent new.

For Your Very Own Bottle

Pyramid Wine & Spirits
120 Auction Ave., $30
Wine Market
4734 Spottswood Ave., $30
Poplar Pike Wines & Spirits
9330 Poplar Pike, $30

This is, as I mentioned, sleek and scintillating, notably clean and fresh, a sort of powerhouse of spicy black and blue fruit scents and flavors strictly tempered by layers of earthy, dusty graphite and plush finely-milled mineral-laced tannins dressed out with vibrant acidity. You might not suspect such a thing, but the wine comes close to being elegant, even as it conceals a truckload of coiled energy in the depths. You will definitely want a steak with this one. Widely available.

For more about wine, check out Koeppel’s blog at www.biggerthanyourhead.net.

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