ADVERTISING: Advertorial — GEORGE BALLING: Most requested, the final chapter: Cabernet

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Survey after survey continues to show the two most requested varietals in the U.S. are Chardonnay and Cabernet. We believe much of this is reflexive; consumers know these varietals best, so they are the go-to’s. We find this to be true here in the shop also. When customers purchase wine for a gift, or to bring to an event, they lean to these varietals as they are the most well-known and are perceived to be the most acceptable. Wine enthusiasts can have that argument another time, but it remains the truth of it all. So, here is a lineup of the most popular Cabernets.

We first started carrying the 75 Wine Company Cabernet with the 2015 vintage and we are currently on the 2017 ($25, $22.50 wine club). It is still being heartily embraced by wine consumers here in North Idaho. The wine has a compelling story behind it. The winemaker is Tuck Beckstoffer, son of the famous and awarded grape-grower, Andy Beckstoffer. For all his accomplishments as a grower in the Napa Valley, Andy never made wine. Now, Tuck is producing some fabulous wines, and it shows, because folks are coming back to buy it over and over again. The grapes are sourced from both Napa and Lake counties and the wine is extraordinary given its lineage and the vineyard sources at this price.

We recently tried, and started to carry, the Born to Run Cabernet ($15, $13.50 wine club) from the Bieler Family Winery. This wine also has an interesting story, as half of the grapes come from California and the remainder come from Washington State. The wine is smooth and easy to drink, driven by fruit with soft, round tannins, for a crowd-pleasing presentation at a crowd-pleasing price. The consumer-friendly packaging with a pink Cadillac on the front doesn’t hurt either.

Sean Minor has a wine in three of the four varietal categories we have talked about over the last several weeks. His 2016 Napa Valley Cabernet ($27, $24.30 wine club) is one of the best values in Napa Cabernet to be found. It’s just flat-out rare to find great Napa Valley Cabernet at this price. It has been a favorite of our customers looking for a big robust Cab for years. Rich, dark fruit flavors, ample oak barrel aging and firm tannins all contribute to its popularity.

Another bargain Cabernet is the 2017 Paris Valley Road Cabernet ($15, $13.50 wine club) from Paso Robles. While Paso is well known for their Syrah and Zinfandel, Cabernet actually grows quite well too. The “PVR” is an exceptional wine for the money, with dark, rich fruit-flavors, a long elegant finish and opulent aromatics.

The 2015 Amavi Cabernet ($40, $36 wine club) is made by Jean-Fracois Pellet and his team at Pepper Bridge Winery in Walla Walla. We have long held the opinion that Jean-Francois is one of the best winemakers in all of the Northwest and you will be convinced too with every sip of this great Cabernet. The wine like all of his productions shows extraordinary balance between vibrant stone fruit flavors, perfect tannins, and just the right touch of oak barrel aging. The entire Pepper Bridge lineup of wines has long shown the restraint lacking in many wines from Washington and the Cabernet is no exception.

Pride Mountain Vineyards is located high in the Mayacamas Mountains right on the county line between Napa and Sonoma Counties. Their 2015 Cabernet ($100, $90 wine club) is one of the great examples of what the iconic valleys of Napa and Sonoma can produce. The wine is sleek and powerful with exquisite balance, hitting all the right notes of dark Italian plums, ripe Bing cherries and aromas of spice box. For our high-end Cabernet consumers, it remains atop the mountain, just like the winery location.

We look forward to seeing you at the shop soon to try any of these great wines we have written of the last four weeks or any of the new wines that arrive constantly. We look forward to helping each of you find your new favorites.

• • •

George Balling is co-owner with his wife, Mary Lancaster, of the dinner party, a wine and gift shop in Coeur d’Alene by Costco. The dinner party has won the award for best wine shop in North Idaho twice, including for 2018. George is also published in several other publications around the country. After working in wineries in California and judging many wine competitions, he moved to Coeur d’Alene with Mary more than 10 years ago to open the shop. You can also follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/#!/dinnerpartyshop.

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