Sunday, May 18, 2014

Ironside Cellars California Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

Ironside Cellars California Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

I discovered this wine when shopping Binny's, the mega-wine merchant with thirty stores around Chicago-land. The expensive packaging and presentation with the OWC (original wood case) and heavy thick glass bottles belayed the price-point at $15.

We also had fun with the 'I' foil capsule since three of our kids went to U of I and two of them went to IU!

The back label testimony boasted this was a 'cab drinker's kind of wine .... full bodied but focused, like a firm handshake that leads into a big hug,"

It cites a 'blend from some of California's best vineyards made by some seriously talented winemakers'. Well, its what I live for to discover serious wines at killer QPR (quality price ratio) price-points. The quest continues as this is not one.   

The first indication of caveat emptor was the lack of terrior .... 'sense of place'. Notably, wine labeled as Napa Valley must contain 75% of its contents being from Napa Valley. Labeled  'California' Cabernet Sauvignon carries the same covenant, the proportion of contents being from the state, with its vast diversity of climates and terrains and soil types .... all those elements of a place.

This 2012 vintage of Ironside Cabernet Sauvignon is made from fruit grown in vineyards in the Napa Valley, Sonoma, Mendocino, and Paso Robles. This is quite a diversity of locales with varied conditions for growing varietal grapes.

Upon opening the bottle, I immediately noticed the cork was labeled '90+ Cellars', the negociant whom I've written about several times in these pages. This seemed strangely backwards - normally, the Negociant buys surplus juice or wine from producers and 'private labels' it under their general negociant brand. Here was an apparent producer branding a wine label sourced from numerous sources and then 'cellared and bottled by (a negociant) 90+ Cellars', as stated on their website.

Such is the topsy turvey oftimes convoluted state of the wine industry.

The final indication of a wine to watch (out) for was the blend. The final blend consists of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon plus 4% each of Malbec, Petit Verdot & Petite Sirah rounded out with 3% Merlot.   

While the label (emphasis theirs) says "each of these grapes adds layers of aroma and texture to the Cabernet. Malbec adds richness, the Petit Verdot lends spice, Petite Syrah supplies power, and the Merlot a layer of earthiness."

Old world wine producers have been blending wines for more than two hundred years and have learned the optimal blends such as the Bordeaux combination of Cabernet, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. New world experimentation with other combinations is an adventure, as is this combination of grapes from such diverse and varied regions with their disparate terrior (s).  

This is a $15 cab that is selling at an appropriate price point with reasonable value. For those of us with more discerning or discriminating pallets, its probably not a wine to buy except as a 'pizza wine' ... every day drinking with pizza but not wine oriented foods. 

The producer's tasting notes cite "hearty aromas of black cherries, plums and tobacco leaf with traces of fresh pepper and sweet spice". I found the wine a bit disjointed and awkward, a bit 'hot' with a sense of metallic graphite and lacking polish and finesse.