Hot-Weather Cabernets


With the heat soaring to sub-Saharan levels and the need for crisp white wines increasing daily, I’ve come to the realization that I just need a rich red. This happens sometimes--I like to think of it as a way to thumb my nose at Mother Nature and let her know that she cannot always dictate what I drink.
The key, though, is in the strategizing, in finding a red that will work well with a slight chill on it--somewhere between cellar temp and room temp--and pair nicely with the kind of foods we eat this time of year.
And for that, I’d recommend the following Cabernet Sauvignons, all perfect right now, all delicious with grilled or barbecued meats.
Dark cherry, plum, sage, and cocoa aromas are lifted by oak that, though still being absorbed, lends this a cedar-, sandalwood-, and incense-flecked note that’s irresistible. It almost smells like a great Indian-spiced chocolate dessert, a gently aromatic soufflé of some sort. On the palate, linear flavors of brambly fruits, garrigue and bay leaf are softened by cherry and currant notes that resolve in a finish of tea and pipe tobacco. Right now, however, this is a wine all about its skeleton of graphite, warm minerals, and toasty oak. Very well-crafted. Drink 2015 - 2025.


Inky, purple-black color, like a beautiful bruise, or like crushed black cherry. The aromas here speak of black-plum liqueur, kirsch, creme de cassis, a hint of chocolate, and a touch of flowers. It’s a big wine, but not weighed down by excess fat--I love the texture. All that richness from the nose follows through to the palate, and is carried on a silky frame alongside flavors of baking chocolate, blackberry jam, and spice cake. This is at the perfect point of its evolution, still beautifully expressive of fruit yet backed up by the real complexity of baking spice, vanilla, and a touch of cherry-pipe tobacco. Beautiful.


Classic Napa Cabernet nose of cassis, dark cherry, toasty oak, slate, minerals, mocha, and a hint of eucalyptus lead to flavors of red currants, grilled sage, cocoa powder, and cigar tobacco, with a hint of violets and tea in the background. The finish speaks of cedar and graphite, and it as textbook as you get. Honest and appealing. Drink now - 2020.