Cabernet Sauvignon: The Starting Five
In addition to the holiday seasonal traditions, I love this time of year because of college basketball and hearty red wines. The cold weather is perfect for watching my beloved Illini and cozying up to a big, bold Cabernet Sauvignon. Cabs are the most popular red wines (I get more requests for recommendations for this varietal than any other) and there are a wide range of styles. So, combining my two winter passions, here is my Cabernet Sauvignon starting five:
Point Guard: Charles Smith Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley Chateau Smith 2009
The Washington Cabs are silky smooth with less big tannic structure than their California cousins. The Charles Smith is affordable ($20), available (10,000 cases produced) and highly rated (91 by Wine Spectator).
Shooting Guard: Concha Y Toro Cabernet Sauvignon Puente Alto Don Melchor 2007
This is your scorer, consistently rated among the finest in the world for a lot less than the trophy wines of other regions ($80). Chilean wines are still relatively unknown, but this bottle "has nice drive...poise and balance..."-Wine Spectator. Sounds like the prototypical two guard!
Small Forward: Thorn-Clarke Shotfire Quartage Barossa 2008
Just like the versatile small forward, this wine is called "polished, velvety and spicy." The Scottie Pippen of Cabs! A Bordeaux style blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Merlot and a touch of Shiraz to give it a little Aussie twist, mate.
Power Forward: Chateau Maison Blanche Medoc 2009
Finding affordable Bordeaux is like defending the Princeton offense; it takes patience, flexibility and smarts. This $15 wine is an amazing value and is big enough to stand up to any red meat while rebounding for the next five years in your cellar!
Center: Hall Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2008
When you are looking for a "banger" you head immediately to Napa Valley. Caymus, Silver Oak, Cakebread, Duckhorn, Robert Mondavi all are headliners. For my money, go with Hall. It is just as good as any of the more recognizable names and at about $44 it will save you at least 20 bucks.
You can assemble this entire championship team for about $200.00. If you are a lover of world class Cabernet Sauvignon, I think we just found the perfect holiday gift for you!