Ruby color. Blackberries. Fruity tang, subtle spice, soft lingering finish. I’m enjoying this glass of cabernet outside on my patio just before sundown, as I’m observing an industrious squirrel rustling high up on a branch in my orange tree, knocking down one orange after the other. This is California in January. My lawn is covered with half eaten oranges, courtesy of local squirrels.
This wine, a Napa Valley 2012 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon by Maroon Wines, would pair well with my lentil and quinoa “meatballs” and creamy polenta, or the vegan Fettuccine Alfredo recipe I made recently for my both of my daughters and my son for our weekday dinner. There’s this blanket idea that rich full-bodied reds like Cabernet pair best with meat-and-potato dishes, however, grilled portobello mushrooms served with cauliflower mashed potatoes would work too.
It’s not often that I enjoy a luscious glass of wine like this Cabernet, so I allowed myself to savor a glass or two, slowly, without rushing through it, just because I need a glass of wine at the end of the day, and all of the other #momlife excuses my weary and exhausted working mommy mind tends to give. This is not an everyday sort of casual wine to treat like Two Buck Chuck, in other words. This is the bath bomb to pamper yourself kind of wine, the special occasion swirl in the glass wine, the romantic dinner at home wine, the toes in the sand on the beach with your sweetie kind of wine.
Please note, dear wine lovers, I did my best to share this wine with my own sweetheart during the twilight hours in my lovely backyard. I made offers to my friends: come over and do a wine tasting with me! The real reason why I enjoyed it alone, sadly, as it really must be shared, is because my sweetie was in bed with some kind of rotten cold/flu thing, crumpled tissues surrounding him in a blanket mound of sniffling achy suffering awfulness. I did try to suggest he taste just one glass with me (hoping he did not take any cold medicine, because you know, guys). Later, as the twinkle lights sparkled on my orange tree, and the squirrel went back to its home with a belly full of oranges, I finished the one glass and started to pour the second. My sweetie then emerged from the bedroom to the patio and decided to sip on one glass, for medicinal purposes.
The first Napa Valley wine I ever paid really good attention to was a big gorgeous goblet of Opus One (poured from a magnum bottle by a waiter at my favorite New Orleans Italian spot, Maximo’s, during the time that I lived there). I was dining that night with a girlfriend and, well, we did live in New Orleans, so weekday dinners could turn as decadent as you can imagine. The couple at the table next us had uncorked a big magnum bottle of Opus One. They sent glasses full of the ruby-rich wine over to our table, since they had such a large bottle to share. As soon as we enjoyed one large sumptuous glass the size of a fishbowl, the waiter was summoned to pour us yet another glassful. Granted, this was not in Napa Valley, but New Orleans, and being a California girl, I was proud to say the wine was from my state of origin.
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I’m not a wine snob, but I’ve enjoyed many good –and some quite amazing– wines. I’ve dined in fine dining establishments and have attended dinners as the guest of celebrity chefs. I’ve gone to wine tastings up and down the California coast. I’ve also been pushed down the street late at night in a shopping cart by a drunk friend while clutching a super cheap bottle of Chablis plonk. I worked as a bartender in a wine bar on Prytania Street in New Orleans, where I once overheard someone say: I’m not a drunk, I’m a wino. I’d tend to agree.
While I’ve enjoyed many fine wines, I can understand how certain wines stand out and become an experience rather than just a good glass of vino. This Cabernet leans towards the experience side of the spectrum.
It’s finish on the tongue is soft and tastes of warm fruit leather, gentle and comforting, and as I held the taste in my mouth awhile longer, it made me feel an uplifting sense of euphoria. As I walked around barefoot in my garden, glass of wine in hand, I took another sip and savored it. The sunlight faded and everything turned a dusky magical hue. A warm breeze rustled the bougainvillea vines. I noticed everything: the delicate nuances of the wine, the temperature of the air, the coolness of damp grass under my feet. I was at home in California, experiencing a delightfully special Napa Valley wine in my backyard.
Featured wine: Maroon 2012 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
Wine Club: Vinformant, Wine Merchant, Napa Valley
About Vinformants: A group of wine industry insiders that have the scoop on the best little wine gems around. Vinformant offers highly rated boutique wines direct to your door from their little wine cellar in Napa. Most of the wines featured can only be purchased at the winery in Napa. It’s like having Napa Valley in your own backyard.