Maybe it was the three story kangaroo billboard outside my dorm room while I was still underage (and attending a still-dry-campus). Maybe it was the month I spent in Australia touring as a tenor in the Men's Collegiate Choir/ #nerd. Maybe it's just my palate. Whatever it is, I LOVE [Yellow Tail] Cabernet.
The town of Napa sits as a quiet guardian at the southern end of Napa valley. Like many other small towns that suddenly came into money, it retains its quaint turn-of-the-century charm on Main Street, and among the quiet neighborhoods that stretch a few blocks back on either side. Revitalization is most evident along the riverfront, where newly constructed buildings and a grassy green park boldly confront the eye.
After three hours of wine tasting in Napa on Saturday night, we were ready for a full day's adventure on Sunday. The goal was to get out of town and drive further into the valley to see more rural scenery among the vineyards. After some googling, we download the Winery Finder onto our phones. This free app offers coupons for many of the wineries in both Napa and Sonoma (mostly 2 for 1 passes, but occasionally you'll see a complimentary tasting). Wine tastings and tours at Napa vineyards are not cheap. $25 seems to be the average starting price, and it goes up from there. Granted, many of the wines available for tasting cost upwards of $100 per bottle, so a $25 tasting here and there isn't a bad deal if you can afford it. Still, the Winery Finder is the way to go.
Ever wonder what it takes to ruin a good red wine? Turns out, it doesn't take much.
If, like me, your budget keeps you in the $5 wine range most nights, you'd jump at the chance to try a couple of nice California Cabernet's. Actually, who wouldn't? I recently had the opportunity to try two highly recommended wines... and ruined both tastings. The wines were a Jordan 2010 Cabernet ($42-$60) and a Josh 2013 Cabernet ($9.99). Both wines were delicious despite my mistake, but I can't help but wonder what I missed out on. Before I let you in on where I went wrong, here are the notes from my original tasting:
Now, there's nothing bad in these descriptions. And even if these flavor profiles were correct, I would still go back to both of these Cabs for more. But the mint and vanilla flavors were much stronger than I expected, even to the point of being overwhelming. As the tasting experience was still delightful, it took me quite some time before I realized what was going on.
I was in Nashville when I tried these wines. It was February, and the air was that special kind of dry you only get in the winter. So you guessed it: chapped lips. I was self-medicating regularly with vanilla mint chapstick.
That was the culprit.
I went into a great wine tasting having overwhelmed my senses with mouthwash flavored paraffin wax.
What do we learn from this? That if you really want to explore the flavors of a new wine, beer or spirit, make sure your palate is clean. On the other hand, with a little foresight (or luck), the flavors you introduce might complement your drink very well!
Josh Cabernet is a product of Joseph Carr Winery and Josh Cellars. The grapes are sourced from Lake County, California, just north of Sonoma County. This Cab was created in honor of Josh Carr, Joseph's father. I'm unclear as to the relationship between Josh Cellars and Joseph Carr Winery, but both entities seem to have been founded in 2005 by a sommelier who spent a 30 year career working with Napa Valley winderies. Information has been hard to dig up. What is clear, is that these are California grapes with bold California flavors.
What about you? Have you ever ruined a tasting? Share your story below.