Saturday, January 29, 2011

Wine #5: Crios de Susana Balbo 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon

After making wine around the world for nearly three decades, Crios is Argentine Susana Balbo's first project as owner and winemaker. The three handprints on the label represent Susana and her two crios, or children.
Untwist the screwcap for a deep purple pour of plummy Cabernet Sauvignon that will only get better with some air or more time in the bottle. As you swirl it around in your glass, take in its heady black fruit aromas with cassis, cigar box and a whiff of violets. Richer and fuller-bodied than our Napa Valley Cab, the Crios is savory and finishes long with a kiss of espresso and fine, sweet tannins.
Argentina's success with Malbec helped catapult that country to fifth place in worldwide wine production. Like many of the country's stellar Malbecs, this Cabernet Sauvignon hails from Mendoza, Argentina's largest wine-producing region that spans an area about the size of Germany. Vineyards for this wine sit at more than 3,300 feet above sea level where grapes are said to have some of the longest hang-times on earth, that is, time allowed for grapes to stay on the vine and optimally ripen. In fact, the mouthfeel, layers, richness and balance of this wine might remind you of lusty Washington Cabernet more so than California-styled Cabs.

Higher altitudes are unfriendly to many pests, which makes it easier for Argentine winemakers to avoid herbicides. Vines planted in these loamy, well-drained soils fed by Andean snow melt produce lower grape yields that benefit from sunny days, cool air and cooler nights. Add a bit of winemaker magic, five months spent in seasoned French and American oak and the results are balanced wines with ripe and rich fruit flavors, good acidity, lower alcohol levels and smooth tannins.  Bottled unfined and unfiltered, you can give this wine a pass through your aerator or open it up ahead of serving time.  

You'd be hard pressed to find a better quality:price value in Cabernet Sauvignon from anywhere. With 25,000 cases produced, you stand a good chance of scoring this wine around town – just in time for Super Bowl too! Enjoy it with steaks, grilled or roasted meats, cumin chili dishes, black bean soup, empanadas and aged cheeses. Find it for about $11 at LA Wine Company in Palm Desert or Costco, if there's any left. 

I'd say that was an awesome tasting wouldn't you? Thanks to all and to The Girlfriend Factor for making it such a great time!

Coming this week: Super Bowl wines

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