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What am I tasting?

Tasting Note

Posted December 06, 2012 Young and appropriately vibrant and grapey. Homes in on pure currant and blackberry fruit, veering briefly toward cedar and tobacco before tightening on the finish.

And the answer is...


Varietal

Young and “appropriately” vibrant, it appears that this week’s mystery wine is but a wee whippersnapper, still coltish and testing out its legs but destined for something greater with a few years of age. Let’s parse the descriptors to help us narrow down the grape variety.

Zinfandel can be made in a range of styles from medium-bodied to dense and chewy, but the grape tends to produce wines that lean toward red fruit, like cherry and raspberry, and the tasting note is missing a tell-tale note of spice that would lead us to Zinfandel, so we can eliminate that.

Pinot Noir and Gamay both are generally made in lighter styles, with less of the tannic and tightened finish than our tasting note allows for, so we can cross those two off our list.

Between the final two grapes, Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon, both are reasonably plausible. But the tasting note, with descriptors of cedar and blackberry, plus an indication that the wine can age, is textbook Cabernet.

This wine is a Cabernet Sauvignon.

Country

As one of the top international grape varieties, Cabernet Sauvignon is made in most of the world's wine-producing regions. The wine is most often either bottled on its own or blended with other Bordeaux varieties. Cabernet also shows up in Italy's super Tuscan blends and in Spain's Priorat region.

This tasting note, however, seems to indicate a more New World style of winemaking. This wine is grapey and vibrant, and there's no mention of the mineral, leather or game notes that are typically associated with Old World wines. This eliminates all of the list's options except for the one New World region, California.

This wine is from California.

Age

The tasting note says it up front: This wine is young.

This wine is one to two years old.

Appellation

Cabernet Sauvignon is grown throughout California, but between the two appellations from the state on our list, Napa Valley and Mendocino, the former is a much likelier pick. Cool climate Mendocino is better known for producing lighter styles of Pinot and Chardonnay, while the warmer Napa Valley produces some of the most famous and well-regarded Cabernet Sauvignons in the world.

This wine is from Napa Valley.

Wine

This wine is the Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2010, which was rated 92 points in the Dec. 31 issue. It retails for $72 and 58,300 cases were made. For more information on the 2010 Napa Cabernets, see Tim Fish’s report on the vintage.

—Jennifer Fiedler, associate editor

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