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In Defense of Cabernet and Bordeaux

I saw the movie Sideways not long ago . . . a fun movie with a lousy point of view on wine. Not only did it do a disservice to some of the better wines that come out of California (by focusing only on the pleasures of fine Pinot Noir), but it also made light of Merlot an essential part of red Bordeaux -- the king of wines.

Now take Cabernet Sauvignon, the summit of grapedom (not a word, I know, but it should be). It produces wines with a deep ruby colour that taste deliciously full-bodied, more vigorous than any Pinot I've had. Yes, I know Cabernet can have the aromas of blackberry or cassis, although my nose is not sufficiently developed to find them on most occasions. But I can tell what I am tasting when it's in my mouth because of its rich texture, smoky flavour and lingering after-taste. (I guess I should call it "finish"). The Castle Rock Winery in California has a grand 2002 Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon which I had in my home town at a fine restaurant called JOV. One I have had from South Africa called Riverstone from the Merwida vineyards is not quite as fine, but certainly cheaper.

Cabernet Sauvignon is also the body of red Bordeaux. But all the major chateaux in Bordeaux mix in a little Merlot to soften the extreme edges of the wine, to add a little nuance. Without Merlot, we wouldn't have Chateau Latour, which I can't afford anyway. But we also wouldn't have a hundred other red wines from Bordeaux that bring pleasure to quiet moments or big steaks. So shame on you Sideways . . . On second thought, maybe I should be thankful because at least you didn't contribute to driving up the price.

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