03/31/10 – March Madness week #6 (Cabernet Sauvignon)

By Jesse on March 28, 2010

It’s time for week six of our second-ever March Madness blind tasting tournament. For six weeks, we’re tasting six of the world’s most recognizable varietals, one per week. After that, we’ll have two weeks of championship tasting, in which we go balls-out crazy with the blind tasting, drawing on what we’ve learned over the past six weeks in our effort to be crowned the official Young Winos blind tasting champion.

Week #1 — Sauvignon Blanc (done)
Week #2 — Syrah / Shiraz (done)
Week #3 — Riesling (done)
Week #4 — Pinot Noir (done)
Week #5 — Chardonnay (done)
Week #6 — Cabernet Sauvignon
Week #7 — Blind white tasting
Week #8 — Blind red tasting

Each week, we bring bottles of the given varietal from all around the world. Before the tasting starts, two people volunteer to donate the two “mystery bottles,” and their wines are placed in brown bags. (For your wine to be granted this special honor, you must be sure that no one else knows what part of the world it’s from.)

We start things off with an open (non-blind) tasting of up to six bottles, representing major regions where the particular wine is made. (For example, on Cabernet week, we’ll taste one or two bottles each of Bordeaux, California, and Argentina.) While tasting, we pay special attention to what characteristics are typical of what regions.

Finally, we bring out the two mystery bottles in their brown bags. In complete silence, we sniff and taste wine #1, and then we make our region guesses on slips of paper, which are collected and put aside. Once everyone’s guess is in, we discuss the wine, and reveal the bottle. Then we repeat the process for #2, and we tally up the points. One point for each correct guess (incorrect guess results in no points, but points are not deducted). The donors each receive one-half point as compensation for not being able to participate in that round. Then we break for cheese time, and then we drink whatever bottles remain!

Week six is Cabernet Sauvignon, that legendary red grape hailing from France’s Bordeauxregion, where it was born in the 18th century as a cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. If you want to go old-school and bring a Bordeaux, we salute you — just make sure you get a majority-Cabernet bottle from the Left Bank of the Gironde River (the wines on the Right Bank are majority Merlot). Regions on the Left Bank include Medoc, Haut-Medoc, St-Estephe, Pauillac, St Julien, Margaux, and Graves, so look for one of those labels on the bottle. (As always: when in doubt, ask your salesperson.)

Cabernet has achieved legendary status in California, where it’s made in most of the state’s top wine regions. And finally, by request, our third region will be Argentina, an up-and-coming producer of Cabernet, where the grape is battling Malbec for top billing among the country’s most prestigious exports. Look for bottles from the Uco Valley in Mendoza, where the top Cabernets are made.

We’ll be meeting at Brian’s place in Torrance. The RSVP system functions like this: if you want in, you click on this link and tell me so (don’t forget your full name, e-mail address, and a cute message conveying to me your intentions). If you’re denied entry due to a meeting exceeding capacity, don’t worry — you’ll be at the top of the list the next week.

Once you’ve gotten your confirmation e-mail, go out and find yourself a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon from Bordeaux, California, or Argentina (or bring a $10 donation, if you prefer). We’ll see you ballers on Wednesday at 9pm.