A California Cabernet Adventure

A California Cabernet Adventure

Originally published in The Heart of Hillsborough, November 2017

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Fall is squarely upon us here in Hillsborough. With winter’s imminent arrival, crisp evenings and warm suppers provide comfort as we prepare to gather with friends and family for the holiday season. It is the ideal time to once again introduce to the table robust, full-bodied red wines, and one of the classics is Cabernet Sauvignon. 

Cabernet Sauvignon is the most cultivated grape in the world and because of the diversity of each region’s geographic location, the wine can be quite unique depending upon its origin. This is one reason why it is always exciting to try, and as a wine enthusiast I gravitate toward California Cabernet. I love its rich history and romantic stories about the one of a kind “cult cabs” from small wineries off the beaten path throughout Napa and Sonoma. While some wines fetch thousands for a single bottle, there are affordable options providing amazing experiences, and I recently discovered one in an unlikely place. 

One afternoon last August, my family and I were nearing the eighth consecutive hour of visiting Disney’s California Adventure together. My son was keen on seeing Cars Land so he could hang out with Lightning McQueen. When his aunt offered to take him to give me and my wife some alone time, admittedly I was relieved! As we saw them off, I noticed a small hill with grapevines tucked away in a corner and a stone path to the Mendocino Terrace. Turning to her, I said, “I didn’t think alcohol was served in Disney parks.” Apparently, I was wrong for in front of us a hidden wine bar beckoned! 

The list was impressive and included five well-known California Cabernets. Among them was the Kunde Family Winery 2013 Estate Grown Cabernet Sauvignon, which I was not familiar with. Enquiring, I was told by the sommelier that the wine reminded her of some of the more popular “cult cabs,” and the Kunde family had produced it for over 100 years in Sonoma. 

As she poured the wine, its deep plum hue, rich and strong, gave way to an intensely inviting bouquet of ripe cherry and black raspberry. Tasting, the initial sensation made me feel as though I had taken a large sip of cream, pleasantly coating my palate, releasing an array of sun-ripened dark fruit, including raspberry and blackberry. Both the tannins and acidity were subtler than expected, and coupled with the fruit, revealed wonderful hints of pepper and cocoa — both of which lingered well after the sip was complete. What surprised me the most was the balance of flavors and how the tannins and acidity complemented them so well. Indeed, it was a special experience that I will not soon forget. 

The Kunde Family Winery 2013 Estate Grown Cabernet Sauvignon (priced at $23.99 and available at Total Wine in Durham) will pair well this winter with hearty stews and roasts, but for a festive approach, try it with a Charcuterie Plate that includes pâté and sausages. 

Cheers, Hillsborough!

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