So this is a subset of my blog that I've really let slide and I've decided I need to get better at. Just because I'm not working with wine on a daily basis doesn't mean that I should be slacking on my tasting. Having worked as hard as I have to study wine, I don't want to loose the skill set I've developed, so I just need to make a more conscious effort to keep sharp.
First, I'd like to talk about 2007 Thelema Cabernet Sauvignon. I happen to think this wine is a fantastic value at around $35 a bottle. The deep ruby color with strong notes of bing cherry, green bell pepper and a slight hickory smoke on the finish make for a big, deep, rich cab that drinks like a much more expensive bottle. It was slightly tannic, but not cloyingly so and I found it surprisingly well balanced for a 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. By U.S. standards, the 500 case production would be considered a small boutique winery so it's not the easiest wine to come by, but in my opinion, worth the search. It should age pretty well for up to 10 years and I would predict it to peak in the 6-8 range. We paired it with a balsamic fig-glazed pork loin and the sweetness of the dish offset the tannins in the wine quite nicely. It definitely needs to be drank with food and I could see it pairing well with a hearty beef stew or a nutty dark chocolate.
With tonight's dinner, we opened a bottle of 2008 Justification. This Cabernet Franc/Merlot blend is an interesting and unusual mix that pays homage to the Pomerol and St. Emillion regions of Bordeaux, showcasing their signature grapes. It starts out a bit more earthy and rustic than your traditional California wine but mellows out on the palate with blackberry, cedar, pepper and nutmeg. I would definitely recommend decanting it and giving it about half an hour to breathe prior to drinking. It retails for around $46 per bottle and could easily stand up to 10 plus years of aging making it a great investment wine. Although it's complex and smooth enough to drink on its own, if your pairing it with food, make sure the flavors aren't anything to aggressive as to overwhelm the subtle complexity of the finish. We paired it with a mustard crusted pork loin and a roasted acorn squash with raisin chutney. The slight spiciness of the dijon crust played against the pepper notes in the wine making them more pronounced, but still letting the wine be the star of the show.