2016 Matchlock Cabernet Sauvignon

This week I tried a Cabernet Sauvignon from Paso Robles, California. I got this wine from Winc, and it was the first Cabernet Sauvignon I've gotten from them in over two years. To be honest, Cabs are not my favorite. I'm from California, less than an hour away from Napa, and it pains me that I don't appreciate Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignons. California is so well knows for its big, bold, juicy Cabs, and they're known to be some of the best wines in the world (along with classic French wines). I generally prefer light to medium bodied reds, without too much oakiness and not too strong of tannins. Cabs tend to be strong on all the things that I prefer to be light or moderate in a red wine.

To be fair to Cabernet Sauvignons though, I haven't actually had one in about two years, when I was first getting into red wine. My tastes in red wine have matured over the past few years as I've tasted and sampled so many more wines and got a better understanding of my likes and dislikes when it comes to red wine. I've had a bit of a mental block with Cabs though, since I really didn't like the few that I tried those few years ago. I know that so many people love Cabs, that I don't want a glass of it to go to waste on someone who doesn't appreciate it. I also generally don't eat much of the kind of food that pairs well with Cabernet Sauvignon, I eat much more chicken and seafood than red meat, so I don't feel like I'm missing out on great pairing by not drinking it. But, this week, I decided to get over my mental block and try a Cab and see if my palate has changed enough that I like Cabernet Sauvignon now.

This Cabernet Sauvignon is not a Napa Valley Cab, but it is from California. It's from Paso Robles, which is a part of the Central Coast of California. Paso Robles has been home to winemaking since the late 1700's. The dry heat of the region is great for growing late-ripening grape varietals, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, and the dramatically cooler nights help maintain acidity levels in those grapes. This particular Cab is actually a blend of two Cabs from different sub-regions of Paso Robles. One is from the Highlands region and is more fruit-forward. The other is from the Willow Creek District, which has a cooler climate, and the Cabernet Sauvignon has stronger tannins and is more dense.

I was pleasantly surprised when I went to smell and taste this wine. With my first sniff, I got dark cherry and blackberry on the nose, with a licorice and pepper finish. The pepper kind of burned my nasal cavity a little bit, but not in an entirely unpleasant way. When I tasted the wine, I definitely got the fruit forward flavor from the Highlands region with the dark cherry and blackberry joined by raspberry and pomegranate. The pepper and licorice aftertaste was joined by a medium level of oakiness and a pleasant vanilla note that balanced out the pepper well. The wine had a moderate level of tannins, which I was pleased with, I don't like to feel like I can chew my wine, and overall it was complex and well-balanced. It was spicier and oakier than most red wines that I generally reach for, but I still really enjoyed it and now I'm willing to branch out and try more Cabernet Sauvignons. This would be a great starter Cab for someone who is just beginning to get into red wine and doesn't want to be overwhelmed by the boldness of a traditional Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

As I mentioned earlier, I don't eat red meat very often, and I did pair this Cab with beef, which is the most common food to pair a Cabernet Sauvignon with. Instead I paired it with an acorn squash stuffed with Italian chicken sausage, roasted apple, spinach, and caramelized onion. I think the squash and chicken sausage were hearty enough that they held their own agains the Cab. I was pleased with the pairing, and I could also see myself pairing this wine with a simple spaghetti in marinara sauce.