The Weekly Wino: April 22nd
This week's review will involve something with which you all are surely familiar--Cabernet Sauvignon. Last night I returned to Vinarium. There wasn't much to decide as I ordered steak and everyone else ordered salsiccia con scamorza (sausage with grilled scamorza cheese). The choice would be, without a doubt, red wine. The waiter was told to bring a bella bottiglia di vino rosso (a nice bottle of red wine) and he delivered it right away.
The choice, to my dismay, was a cabernet sauvignon from the Veneto made by Tenuta di Sant'Antonio, called Capitel del Monte. The minute it filled my glass I could see that it was going to be heavyweight. It was an inky dark red with a ruby tone (as opposed to violet, or brick, or bright red...or so many other shades that a grape can become!). The first thing that caught my nose was the scent of oak, which almost masked the aroma of dark fruits, followed by a bit of alcohol (14%, whew) that could have been remedied by 5 minutes in the refrigerator. "Room temperature" is just not specific enough!
The flavors agreed with the scents and brought me a mouthful of blackberry jam followed by much more than just a little kiss of oak.** While the toastiness wasn't overwhelming, it made it's presence known and my suspicion was confirmed when the label said that the wine spent 12 months aging in Slovenian oak barrels.
(**Here is my very opinionated digression. I am finding more and more Italian wines that are aged in this way. It seems that the "new world" obsession with that rich, vanilla flavor has crossed oceans and borders and is influencing the newer generations of Italian wine makers. I am fully aware that oak aging has long been practiced in Europe, but it has always been used with finesse, giving a soft edge of complexity to very tannic wines. It's like using heavy cream in the kitchen. A spoonful can enhance many a dish, but an entire bottle can overwhelm every flavor and mask the the ingredients that are in the pan. Cream can certainly be very tasty, but, if what you make is good to begin with, you shouldn't need it. I feel the same way about oak. It can be so overwhelming sometimes (California!) that one cannot taste the grape and all it has to offer.)
Ok, I am climbing off the soapbox and we can get back to the Wino.
This wine was thankfully saved from the vanilla clutches by its sensual jamminess and a nice, long finish. The oak was a bit stronger than I would prefer, but overall it didn't kill me. The steak was deliciously medium rare, but a wine with a bit more tannic structure (this Cabernet had uncharacteristically soft tannins) to balance the juiciness of the meat would have made an unbeatable companion.
One more thing--I just want to point out that any decent review of a specific wine would have included the production year, but I am sorry--I forgot to remember. Maybe it was that last glass...
Labels: Weekly Wino