But what if you want to drink a Cab that's only as old as a frozen dinner? All across the globe, winemakers are waking up to the fact that most wine drinkers don't have several years to wait for a bottle of Cab to mellow out. Basically, we want it now.
To "fruitify" the traditional aggressive, astringent style, the winemaker alters the vinification process. Since the skins provide the tannins, exposing the skins to the juice for shorter periods of time will reduce tannin levels, and fermenting the juice at a lower temperature keeps the grapey flavors intact, rather than stripping them away.
Soil differences also affect the wine's character. Each region where the grapes grow, whether it's southern Australia, Chile, Washington State or Napa Valley, will have different types of soil. Any grape acts like a sponge to the soil's flavors, and every piece of land -- even 200 yards apart -- can have different soil characteristics that affect the end product. This partly explains why an Australian Cab can taste so unlike a French Cab.
The Cabernet Sauvignon grape originally hailed from France's Medoc region in Bordeaux, where earthy, astringent flavors are favored over the new world's fruit-forward experience. Bordeaux Cabs are normally blended with milder, softer wines made from Merlot or Cabernet Franc to smooth out the tannins. California's Napa Valley normally bottles with higher percentages of Cab to demonstrate the true characteristics of the grape. But in the end, it's the winemaker's taste that ends up in the bottle, and it's up to you to discover what you like.
Recommended WinesRobert Mondavi 2000 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon A delicious bolder Cab, proudly featuring bright black cherry and nicely balanced oak flavors. Beautiful, soft tannins, but hefty enough to please the traditional Cab lover. $30
Santa Ema 1999 Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot Barrel Select Great value from this Chilean winery producing some great stuff these days. Medium tannins and dried cranberry define this toasty oak Cab blend. $12
Arbios Cellars 1998 Cabernet Sauvignon Strong plum flavors in this beautiful Sonoma Cabernet. Has some black pepper spice in the back of your mouth when you drink it. 1/2 $20
2000 French Bordeaux Wines An astounding year for Bordeaux Cabs, the 2000s are showing a lot more fruit than years past. They won't be available for sale until this summer, but try as many as you can.
The Wine List
ARTHUR'S RESTAURANTS AND WINE SHOPS 4400 Sharon Rd. Apr. 8- Washington State Wines. Classes are held from 6:30-8pm. Light snacks and bread served. Credit card required at registration. Cancellations accepted until one week before class. $20 per person. 704-366-8610.
BARONE'S WINE ROOM Birkdale Village, Huntersville, offers wine tastings every Wednesday night from 6-8pm. The cost is $10. Call 704-987-0011.
CAROLINA WINE CLUB Winter classes will be held at the Mint Museum of Craft + Design from 6:30-8pm. Four Series: Series III: Session III, Session IV, Apr. 1-Old Zinfandels and Zinfandel Port (rescheduled). Individual sessions $30; each series of classes $100 (mix and match any four sessions from any series). Call 704-344-8027 for reservations.
DEAN & DELUCA WINE ROOM 6822-G Phillips Place Ct. March tasting- T-Vine Vineyards. March 30, 1-3pm. $25 per person. Reservations required. Wine classes will be offered the 1st and 3rd Saturday of each month beginning in April. Apr. 5- Chardonnay. $15 per class. 704-552-5283.
LA DOLCE VITA! Pasta & Provisions along with Sir Edmond Halley's has planned a wine dinner on March 27 at 7:30pm to be held at Sir Edmond Halley's, 4151 Park Rd. $85 per person ($10 credited toward wine purchases). RSVP to Josh at 704-364-2622.
REID'S 7TH ST. WINE SHOP Wednesday Night Flights-5:30-7:30pm, very informal. Three wines will be tasted each week, $10. Four For Friday-Festivities begin at 4pm. Four premium wines are featured in four ways: 2 oz. sample, 5 oz. glass, by the bottle or in a flight, $20. Call 704-513-7014.
REID'S WINE CLUB hosts a burgundy tasting with Steve Pignatiello at The Marriott Center City, 100 West Trade St. March 27, 6:30pm. $20 per person. Call 704-527-2669 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for reservations.
SOUTHERN SPIRITS Winter Wine Classes: March 26 & April 2, Wines of the World, $40. Light snacks will be served with each class. All classes are held from 7-8:30pm. Located on Hwy 521, 3 miles south of Ballantyne. Call 803-548-8888 to register.
THE WINE GALLERY 8020 Providence Rd. A wine tasting on March 27 from 6:30-8:30pm will feature Chilean wines. 704-544-2455.
THE WINE SHOP 2442 Park Rd. Sit Down, Tutored Tasting: The Wines of Piemonte with Rino Varaldo & David Bryant. March 26, 7pm. $30. Call 704-377-5373 or email email@example.com for reservations.
Wine tastings, classes, or other wine-related events will be listed at the discretion of the editors. Send information to Creative Loafing one of three ways: Fax to 704-944-3605; email to firstname.lastname@example.org; or by regular mail at 6112 Old Pineville Rd. Charlotte, NC 28217.