LEFT BEND 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon

“Wine is the most healthful and most hygienic of beverages.”Louis Pasteur

Can anyone discuss the taste of a Cabernet Sauvignon without mentioning cassis?  Well, it’s obviously too late for me to do that, so I’ll put off that description for a moment and instead talk balance. Balance as in a wine of balance; a flying Walenda of balance.  This is my second tasting of the Left Bend winery’s offerings; the winery being a collection of small vineyards scattered throughout the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA. (For more on this AVA and the winery, see:  http://www.winemizer.net/2013/12/left-bend-2010-syrah.html 

I opened the Cab without decanting or aerating and was impressed with its immediately pleasing and balanced nose: no sharp single notes; instead a harmony of scent: black berry, black cherry and cassis …. oops, there’s that word again.  It’s deep purple in the glass, proud to be a Cabernet Sauvignon and showy of it. This is a viscous wine, silky and smooth in the mouth, luxuriously coating the palette like plum juice, but not one-dimensional. Instead, the wine offers tastes of its own nose with taste of black berry, black cherries, plum and … yes, cassis.

I guess I’ll just have to deal with that cassis issue.  Cassis is the berry fruit of a shrub not allowed in the U.S. My instinct is that some people using that term to describe the taste of Cabernet Sauvignon do so out of rote, not experience:  Hear it, read it, repeat it and pass it on and have someone else do the same. Cassis is another gift in the world of pleasing tastes and you don’t have to leave the country to enjoy it. You can buy (see photo) cassis liqueur (not crème de ….. unless you want to imagine what the taste of cassis and dairy combined with wine taste like). And doing so will give you the advantage of actually having tasted cassis, instead of just having read the word in a wine review.

Anyway, there definitely is cassis in Left Bend’s inaugural release of their 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon.  It is most pleasing, but even more impressive is how it is in balance with the wine’s other notes. And while cabs tend to be tannic (and good for aging) this wine having aged 27 months in barrel offers smoothed tannins and can be enjoyed now. It has a lingering but clean finish that develops and builds in the mouth then ends nicely with clean acid.    

Somebody has to absorb the cost of French barrels and the cost of cellaring, and it can’t forever be the winery if you expect them to remain in business next year. So you’ll find this wine at about $45. Value being a relative thing, I would value this wine along with cabs I have tasted that cost more.  As I do with most wines I taste, I vacuum pump the bottles, store them in a cool / dark place and taste them again the next day (oh, the work of it all).  Unlike Left Bend’s Syrah, the Cabernet Sauvignon did not improve.  So the bad news is you may have to finish the wine in its first day. And the good news is that you may have to finish the wine in its first day.       

The biggest challenge to enjoying this wine is finding it. With production limited to 30 cases (not a typo), it is unlikely you will find it locally or at any “big box” retailer.  Contact winery directly for information.

…………….   Jim
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Left Bend Winery
12255 New Ave.
San Martin, CA 9504

* Sample was provided by winery for review
Clones: 4 and377
Alc:         13.8%
TA (acidity)         6.3 g/l
 pH:        3.57
Hand harvested, sorted and destemmed
100% whole berry fermentation
Punched down twice daily
10% oak cooperage (66% new [French} 40% neutral)
27 months barrel aging
Natural malolactic – 100%
Not filtered or fined

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