What to drink this week

Cal­i­for­nia Caber­net

Country Life Every Week - - Town & Country Notebook -

These sweet reds are more than a flash in the pan, ad­vises Harry Eyres

It’s now 40 years since Steven Spurrier’s fa­mous ‘Judge­ment of Paris’ blind tast­ing, in which, sen­sa­tion­ally, a Cal­i­for­nia Chardon­nay—château Mon­te­lena 1973— and a Cal­i­for­nia Caber­net—stag’s Leap Wine Cel­lars 1973—ended up pip­ping some of France’s most fa­mous names to the post. To prove this was no flash in the pan, Cal­i­for­nia Caber­nets again beat French ri­vals in sub­se­quent blind tast­ings held in San Fran­cisco, Paris, Napa and Lon­don. These events cer­tainly gave a boost to the Cal­i­for­nian wine in­dus­try, but you could hardly say that the New World up­starts have defini­tively up­staged the greats of Bordeaux and Bur­gundy.

Why you should be drink­ing them

Cal­i­for­nia Caber­nets, es­pe­cially from Napa Val­ley, can be some of the world’s great­est red wines, with a mar­vel­lous, sweet dusti­ness and lushly lay­ered fruit. The prob­lem is that the wines tend to be ex­cel­lent and very ex­pen­sive or, at the more rea­son­able end, clumsy or some­what bland. Now, there are en­cour­ag­ing signs of life in the mid­dle of the mar­ket.

What to drink

First Press Caber­net Sau­vi­gnon 2013 Napa Val­ley (below, £12.99 un­til De­cem­ber 6, then £17.99; www.wait­rose. com) has lovely, pure and sweet Caber­net fruit—it’s very good, if not es­pe­cially com­plex. Ken­dall-jack­son Grand Re­serve Caber­net Sau­vi­gnon 2010 (£20; www.thedrinkshop.com) is sourced from the Ston­estreet Es­tate Vine­yard vine­yard, Sonoma and im­presses with great depth of colour, notes of mint and to­bacco on the nose and a long, classy fin­ish. Freemark Abbey Caber­net Sau­vi­gnon Napa Val­ley 2011 (£33.25; www.cork­ing wines.co.uk) has an en­tic­ingly com­plex nose of red fruits, leather, to­bacco and spice. There’s lush­ness, but also pro­filed length on the palate—sim­ply ex­cel­lent.

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