The SOMM Journal

August / September 2017

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Page 18 of 148

18 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } AUGUST/SEPTEMBER { tastings } JUST WHEN YOU think you've gotten to know everything about the hardy and always reliable Cabernet Sauvignon varietal, something new about it arises. Master of Wine Christy Canterbury put exciting selling points for Cabernet Sauvignon out on the table (as well as top-tier expres - sions) in her masterclass and tasting at The Cardinal's Room at Redbird in Downtown Los Angeles. Louis M. Martini Lot 1 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (SRP $145) served as the benchmark wine for all three flights (Global, Iconic U.S., and Napa) of five wines so attendees could compare and contrast the way the grape expresses itself under different climate and terroir conditions at various locations and from three recent vintages (2012, 2013 and 2014). So why rethink this varietal now? According to Canterbury, there is more to its versatility and use in blending than even some experienced sommeliers may realize. And there's no better way to unearth those secrets than through an unhurried tasting of expressions from around the world with back-stories running the gamut from the quirky to the sublime. "The biggest challenge Cabernet Sauvignon faces is its familiarity," explained Canterbury over a post-session lunch of Redbird's cuisine, which provided a lovely foil for the rest of Martini's Cabernet Sauvignon portfolio: Sonoma County, Alexander Valley, Napa Valley and Monte Rosso Vineyard. "People think they know everything about it. In recent years, they've moved on to experience other varietals, such as Savagnin or Poulsard from France's Jura region, for example. While it is exciting for people to experience unfamiliar varietals, they are forgetting the diversity of expres - sions of Cabernet Sauvignon that grow right their backyard. Furthermore, the timing for a masterclass like this is perfect because these excellent wines are just beginning to hit the market, and can be cellared in the years to come for optimum flavor." While the wines tasted were definitely not the "kind of bottles one opens on a Thursday night, just because," Canterbury stressed that tasting the best expressions of Cabernet Sauvignon was important so wine professionals could re-acquire an appreciation for how deep and fascinating this varietal category could be. She added that the curation of the featured wines from Napa, other California growing regions, and from Washington State, Italy, Australia, Chile and Argentina, was a collaborative effort between herself, Martini parent company E. & J. Gallo and wine marketing company Calhoun & Company. Over the course of the master class, Canterbury revealed that the best expres - sions of Cabernet Sauvignon have notes of blackcurrant, cassis, cedar, eucalyptus, black plums and blackberries. "You see more major characteristics of a good Cabernet when it is part of a blend," she pointed out. "Even when Merlot or Petit Verdot are part of the mix, Cabernet's qualities will shine through." Canterbury concludes it is also impor - tant to get to know Cabernet again because people f orget there was a time when winemakers and customers were enamored with this varietal as they were with Chardonnay a few years ago. "It serves one well to go deeper into Cabernet Sauvignon because there are endless possibilities in how it is treated by different winemakers within Napa as well as other regions," she says. "With many sommeliers and wine professionals out there looking to blaze their own trail, they owe it to themselves to rediscover what has made it such an indispensible varietal for so many winemakers." Top-tier Cabernet expressions at the tasting. Canterbury's Tales story and photos by Elyse Glickman Christy Canterbury, MW, gives a Cabernet masterclass. CHRISTY CANTERBURY, MW, REINTRODUCES FELLOW SOMMELIERS, BUYERS AND OTHER INFLUENCERS TO CABERNET SAUVIGNON'S BRIGHTEST EXPRESSIONS FROM CALIFORNIA AND AROUND THE WORLD

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