2016 Z. Alexander Brown Cabernet Sauvignon

With some members of the CigarHawk Facebook group requesting reviews of wines under $20, I figured I’d give this bottle a try. While it’s Zac Brown’s wine venture, I assumed it was more novelty versus trying to create a wine business, and was I wrong.

This Cabernet is grown in the North Coast region of California, which is known for producing Cabernets, Zinfandels, Merlot, and Chardonnays. The temperate climate helps produce a more expressive and fresher wine.

After letting the wine breathe for a half hour, the nose presented well balanced fruit notes, and very mild acidity. My first few sips had notes of blackberries, some mild spice, and light tannins with mild acidity. Also, my initial swirl left good legs on the glass. Additional sips were well balanced, with mild tannins, and a pleasant amount of fruitiness that’s not overwhelming.

For under $20 at every major grocery store, this cab should age well for another 5-10 years. If you’re impatient like I am and want to drink wine as soon as you purchase a bottle, this one fits the bill as it’s not overly dry but has good fruit flavors. I’d pair it with grilled lamb, pork chops, or a mildly spiced Maduro cigar.

Wine terms

Acidity – A naturally occurring component of every wine; the level of perceived sharpness; a key element to a wine’s longevity which helps the overall balance

Aerate – Introducing air into a wine

Aroma – Scents that are components of the nose

AVA – American Viticulture Area; a designated wine region in America

Balance – The combination of acidity, tannins, fruit, etc. that is more based on individual preference over a scientific view

Barrel Fermentation – A process by which wine (usually white) is fermented in oak barrels rather than in stainless steel tanks that creates a richer, creamier, oakier style of wine

Body – general weight, fullness, or overall feel of a wine in your mouth

Breathe – The process of introducing air to open a wine up

Color – A key determinant of a wine’s age and quality. White wines usually grow darker with age while reds become a brownish orange

Corked – What happens when a wine cork becomes tainted by TCA (trichloroanisol.) The wine has flavors and aromas of mushrooms and mustiness

Decant – The process of transferring wine from a bottle to another holding vessel. The purpose is generally to aerate a young wine or to separate an older wine from any sediment

Dry – A wine that has less than 0.2 percent unfermented sugar

Earthy – aromas and flavors that have soil-like qualities

Finish – the aftertaste, how long the flavors last until they fade, the textural impact

Horizontal – A tasting of a group of wines from the same vintage or representing the same style of wine

Legs – wine that sticks to the glass after drinking or swirling

Mouthfeel – Sensation of the wine in the mouth

Nose – The wine’s aromas

Oxidized- A wine that is no longer fresh due to too much exposure to air

Residual Sugar – The sugar remaining after fermentation stops, or is stopped, but it can also result from the addition of unfermented must or ordinary table sugar

Silky – A wine that has a smooth mouthfeel

Tannins – Compounds that exist in most plants. In grapes, tannins are found primarily in the skins and pits, and tannins are astringent while providing structure to a wine. Over time tannins die off, making wines less harsh

Terroir – The combination of soil, climate, and all other factors that influence the ultimate character of a wine

Texture – the mouthfeel or tactile sensation on the palate

Varietal – Wines made from just one grape type and is named after it

Vertical – A tasting of one wine through different vintages

Vintage – A specific year or harvest in the wine industry

These are some of the most common wine terms used when tasting wines. I plan on doing a few more posts about wine varietals and their history, along with what types of glasses and pairings go with them.

2017 Robert Mondavi Private Selection Cabernet Sauvignon

I decided to review a 2017 Robert Mondavi private selection Cabernet Sauvignon that’s aged in bourbon barrels, as it seems to be popular among members in the CigarHawk Facebook group. This cab is from Southern Monterey County which is known for its Cabernets, Merlots, and Zinfandels. The climate in the county helps produce numerous quality wines.

After letting the wine breathe for close to a hour, the nose presented notes of fruit, acid, and a pleasant aroma of charred oak. The first few sips had hints of oak, pronounced black cherry, and the tannins were mild.

The longer the wine was left to open, the tannins become very well balanced and almost velvety, while the acid tamed and the fruit forwardness lessened. Hints of vanilla and blackberry lingered after sips.

For a 2017, the wine is still young, and could easily age for another 5 or more years. For a cab under $20, I feel this one is pretty hard to beat. It would pair well with rack of lamb, pork, makes a great pan sauce Bordelaise, and I would pair it with a cigar that’s more floral to help bring out the fruit notes in this wine.

2013 Pinot Meunier

There’s nothing like enjoying a complex bottle of wine on a beautiful day. I decided on a 2013 Pinot Meunier from Willakenzie Vineyards. They are known for producing quality wine at a great price point. 

Pinot Meunier grows well here in Oregon as the varietal is more accepting of colder climates. Meunier has the same DNA fingerprint as Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris grapes, but is less acclaimed even though it’s a quiet workhorse for champagnes. 

The nose presents a lot of acid, hints of black pepper, and some spice. There is also a strong jammy aroma. My first few sips present a mildly tart jam flavor, with some acid and tannins that coat the palate. While the acid and tannins are strong, they don’t overwhelm the palate too much.

I noticed the wine really opened up after breathing for a few hours. While the acid was still prominent, mild black pepper along with confected fruit notes helped balance the wine. This Meunier would pair well with shellfish, pork, or charcuterie.

You should be able to find this wine at any major grocery store, as the Lacroutes entrusted the Willakenzie Estate to Kendall Jackson back in 2016. It’s reasonably priced around $30 for a bottle. 

Cana’s Feast 2014 Grenache

Taking a break from bourbon and cigar pairings, I decided to try a red wine pairing instead. Red wines are often under estimated as a good pairing for cigars, and offer a more complex pairing when paired correctly. Living in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, I’m spoiled with numerous renowned wineries producing many varieties of wine.

I decided to try a 2014 Grenache from Cana’s Feast out of Carlton, Oregon. They source their Grenache grapes from the Columbia Valley AVA, which is known for producing more fruit forward wines like California, yet keeps some of the balance and structure of European wine. Cana’s only bottled 54 cases in 2014, making this wine a little harder to come by. I paired the Grenache with a Chapo from Traficante Cigar Company. If you haven’t heard of them yet, they’re definitely worth checking out.

After opening the bottle and letting it breathe for 30 minutes or so, the first few sips have a mild fruitiness to them. The draw is good on the first third of the cigar with hints of spice, and the wine compliments the predominant tobacco flavor while the cigar brings out the fruitiness.

During the transition from the first third to the second third, I noticed a slight cocoa flavor from the cigar. The spice is more prominent throughout the second third, and the fruitiness of the wine really shines. The wine’s talc like tannins are starting to be brought out by the cigar.

At the very end of the second third, the wine helps brings out a mild musky tobacco flavor with a pleasant leathery/earthy aroma. The last third of the cigar elevates the wine’s earthiness, while having a very smooth finish.

Overall, the wine has just enough tannins to create a pleasant balance where it doesn’t overpower the taste of the cigar. For $28 a bottle, it’s a good bottle for beginners exploring their palate, or for someone with a more sophisticated palate to enjoy on its own or with a nice cigar.

#Wineandcigars #Wine #Winereviews #CigarHawkBrand #Traficante

New Addition to the site. Wine reviews

When you think cigars and pairings, if you are like me, your initial thought is cigars and spirits. Typically scotch, whiskey, bourbon, brandy, etc. What I am finding more and more is that the pairing game is really changing. Craft beer is becoming increasingly popular in the world of cigar pairings and so too, is wine.

I got into wines a few years ago and at first I just couldn’t understand it. It was horrible to me. After trying different blends and attending a tasting (which I highly recommend) I was able to narrow down a few things and found that I am by far, a dark red wine drinker. White wine is not for me, at all. My palette is all about heavy, dark, bold flavors and from that point on, drinking wine was much more enjoyable.

Even though I enjoy a nice glass of wine, I am not knowledgeable about it at all. Wine is a whole different world and if you start to venture into it, it can be very overwhelming. I was approached by a member of the Cigar Hawk Group about doing some wine reviews and I thought “Sure, why not?” I sure as hell couldn’t do it, but I am certainly open to reading about it and learning more along the way. So here we are.

Jeff Quinn has offered to try his hand at some reviews for us and I welcome him in and thank him for helping me bring more content to the Cigar Hawk page as we continue to try to grow and expand our reach and vision to become a go to media source for the cigar lifestyle and beyond.

I am open to suggestions and ideas for anyone that wants to contribute to the blog as well. Pipe smokers, craft beer folks, etc.

Look for reviews from Jeff soon and welcome him to the CigarHawk.com family. Until next time #longashesfullglasses