When visiting Napa Valley for wine tasting, there are a multitude of experiences from which to choose. Food and wine pairings, educational seminar tastings, vertical tastings of consecutive vintages—the list goes on and on. At Sequoia Grove Vineyards, located in the heart of Napa Valley in Rutherford, the Taste for Cabernet experience offers guests an intimate look at what elements of taste do and do not pair well with Cabernet Sauvignon.
A Taste for Cabernet
Hosted by Sequoia Grove’s Senior Wine Educator, Dean Busquaert, A Taste for Cabernet guides wine and food pairing enthusiasts through Sequoia Grove’s single vineyard bottlings of Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as the top-tier Cabernet blend—Cambium. Following the tasting, guests are invited to taste one ingredient that represents each element of taste, in conjunction Cambium, to experience the way the flavors interact with the wine. In this unique food and wine pairing experience, not all ingredients go well with the wine. This, Busquaert states, allows Cabernet enthusiasts to truly understand how a great bottle of wine can be enhanced, or even ruined, by the meal it is served with—reinforcing the importance of food and wine pairing synergy.
Leading up to the food and wine pairing portion of the experience, Busquaert urges guests to understand the importance of pairing Cabernet appropriately. He says that so often, someone will taste a wine and love it in the tasting room, but go home and enjoy it with an inappropriate pairing and be completely disappointed. Hearing this more than once is what inspired Busquaert to create the A Taste for Cabernet experience—and guests have been both enlightened and excited by it ever since.
Drawing on his own knowledge of Napa Valley and using slides of vineyard images and appellation maps, Busquaert delves deep into the terroir of each single vineyard bottling. Tasting through the unique soils, elevations and sun exposures, guests identify and discuss with Busquaert the influence of terroir and how it affects the finished wines. “This tasting shows you how when you move the same grape from location to location, it changes drastically,” Busquaert states.
Creating Balanced Wine
To really allow the terroir to shine in the glass, Winemaker Molly Hill ferments and ages different blocks of Cabernet Sauvignon separately, before blending together the blocks to create each single vineyard bottling—proving just how much variation in terroir there is amongst individual blocks in a single vineyard. In addition to wanting to highlight the terroir, Hill is “adamant about making balanced wines,” Busquaert says, and it certainly shows.
In all of the wines poured during the A Taste for Cabernet experience, there is the presence of perfected balance. In each of the Sequoia Grove Cabernets, fruit, acid, tannin and oak are harmonized in perfect synchronicity.
To Pair or Not to Pair
For the pairing portion of the experience, grapes, a lemon wedge, coarse pink salt, and brie and aged gouda cheeses are used to represent the elements of taste—and the results of pairing them with Cambium are enlightening. Sequoia Grove’s A Taste for Cabernet, hosted by Senior Wine Educator Dean Busquaert, is both a unique and engaging experience that should not be missed when visiting Napa Valley.
Wine Selection | Taste for Cabernet
2008 Lamoreaux Vineyard
The aromatics are full of currant, black cherry, chocolate and roasted coffee beans. Notes of blackberry, black cherry, dark red fruit, chocolate and clay abound on the palate with chalky tannins and a silky texture.
2011 Rutherford Reserve
Black olive and mint abound on the nose of this reserve wine, while the medium-bodied palate expresses flavors of black currant, black and red cherries, and espresso with gentle tannins— making for a rather enjoyable experience
2011 Henry Brothers Vineyard
Highly aromatic notes of mint and black cherry cola hover above the glass. Notes of black cherry cola, blackberry and blueberry are enveloped in a wonderful cocoa-like texture with soft tannins and a medium body.
2011 Tonella Estate Vineyard
Red cherry, black olive and mint are present on the nose of this luscious wine, while the palate brings a mix of fruit—currant, red cherry, blueberry and blackberry all mingle with notes of cocoa and spice.
2011 Napa Valley Cambium
Cambium boasts a bright nose full of red cherry and fresh raspberry, with a wonderful array of baking spices. The palate is palate full of strawberry, raspberry and blackberry with subtle hints of dark chocolate, cocoa and minerality.
*Originally published in Wine Country This Week.