Bozzetti: Spring cleaning in the wine room
Like most of you, I spent the weekend spring cleaning, but this time it was in my basement, picking out a few wines to fit the changeable weather that goes from spring back to winter and then to spring, often in the span of a day. There’s always a surprise or two lurking in the disarray of bottles on the shelves serving as my wine cellar,and this time was no different.
These are some mini-reviews from my days of catching up with wines deserving of attention:
Sequoia Grove 2008 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon – Dark black and red fruits on the nose with a bit of spice, tobacco and medium oak; round, soft tannins, smooth finish, 14.2 percent abv. Opened Wednesday and finished it Saturday with no loss of expression or depth. I’m sort of leery when it comes to California cabs because of that general trend toward over-ripe, high-alcohol wines, but winemaker Mike Trujillo (a Colorado native, I’m pleased to note) has produced a well-balanced and lovely example of Rutherford cabernet, and at $30 it’s a real value if you still can find it.
Mandolin 2009 Central Coast Cabernet Sauvignon – Don’t be put off by the $12-$14 price tag, this Central Coast cabernet is the real thing. Too often less-expensive reds (and this goes for all varietals trying to beat a price point) taste like bulk-wine flabby fruit bombs, but Mandolin somehow has created a silky wine with notes of blackberry, currants, earth and spice, with decent tannins and manageable alcohol (14.5 percent). A great everyday cabernet and did I mention it’s only $12?
Frank Family Vineyards 2008 Napa Valley Cabernet – Dark cherries, currants, blackberries, plums against a background of structured tannins and moderate 14.5 percent alcohol. During my last visit to this historic winery along the Silverado Trail on Napa’s east side, I recall being told about the winemaker’s love of new oak. There’s some of that new oak brashness here but it’s balanced by layers of ripe fruit and a hint of spice. Someone has to pay for all those new barrels – $40.
Robert Mondavi 2009 Napa Valley Chardonnay – Starts a bit creamy with honeyed layers of melon, pear and green apple against a backdrop of oak and vanilla. Enough mineral tones and acidity to carry its weight though a long lunch or romantic dinner. In this era of everyone trying to outdo each other with unoaked chardonnay, this is a pleasant reminder that California still makes wines to please the oak/vanilla/tropical fruit palate. $15-$20.