Wine Time

Dennis Sodomka is a guest columnist | Contact Dennis

Wine Time: Concannon Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, California

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COST: $9-11

WHAT: The history of Concannon and Cabernet Sauvignon are intertwined, going back 130 years. So it is no surprise that this wine is a winner.

The grapes selected from California Central Coast vineyards produce an outstanding wine at a great price. The Concannon Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 is a hearty, well-balanced wine with a rich nose of dark berries.

This tastes like a Cab you would find at a much higher prices, with lots of plum and blackberry tastes and hints of pomegranate and tobacco. It is a very pleasant wine, with some depth and complexity.

The blend is 80 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 15 percent Merlot and 5 percent Petite Sirah.

The wines from selected vineyards provide blending diversity because of the many microclimates available. Cool region grapes provide fresh fruit nuances and warm region grapes add depth of flavor and complexity. About 60,000 cases were produced.

WINERY: James Concannon and his wife, Ellen, founded Concannon Vineyards when they moved to the Livermore Valley in 1883. It was among the first California wineries to produce Bordeaux blends.

The winery also introduced Petite Sirah to America in 1961. It is known for its Bordeaux blends and its Rhone-style blends.

The family practices sustainable farming and green technology. It is part of the Conservancy winegrowers who have placed their land in a legal trust to protect the land against development.

When James Concannon founded the winery, the California wine industry was young and winemakers were exploring which varietals were best suited to the region. Concannon went to Bordeaux to learn about winemaking and vineyard management.

He brought back Cabernet Sauvignon cuttings for planting in California. His first wine, made primarily from Cabernet Sauvignon, was bottled in 1886. An infestation of the root louse phylloxera destroyed those vines in the 1890s.

Concannon returned to Bordeaux and brought back the healthiest, phylloxera-resistant Bordeaux varietals. Those plants are still producing grapes today in Livermore Valley.

Two generations later Jim Concannon worked with the University of California at Davis to develop Cab clones that were resistant to phylloxera. The final result was the registration of Concannon Cabernet Sauvignon clones 7, 8 and 11. They became the backbone of California’s Cab plantings and are the most widely planted in California today.

The development of these clones is considered Concannon’s greatest contribution to the California wine industry.

Fourth-generation vintner John Concannon continues to produce Cabs in each of its five production tiers: Heritage, Reserve, Conservancy, Selected Vineyards and Glen Ellen Reserve. The winery also produces other varietals at a wide range of prices.

GOES WITH: It was a beautiful fall evening, so my wife, Teri, and I decided to eat dinner on the back porch. I grilled pork ribs marinated in North Carolina vinegar sauce. (I actually brought the sauce back from Lexington, N.C., center of the eastern Carolina barbecue universe.)

I needed a bright, fresh wine that would take on the ribs and the tangy sauce. I’m glad I chose the Concannon Cab because it nicely matched the sharp taste of the sauce and the sweet taste of the pork.

This wine also would go well with a variety of foods, including steak, beef stew, pizza or strong cheeses.

WINE EVENTS

THURSDAY, SEPT. 26
Wine and tapas tasting, 5-6:30 p.m., La Maison on Telfair, 404 Telfair St.; four wines and three tapas; $25; (706) 722-4805

FRIDAY, SEPT. 27

Wine and beer tasting, 4:30-6:30 p.m., Vineyard Wine Market, 4414 Evans to Locks Road, Evans; (706) 922-9463

Wine tasting, 6-8 p.m., Evans Towne Market, 4460 Washington Road, Evans; wines, cheese and crackers; $5; (706) 303-8591

SATURDAY, SEPT. 28

Wine and beer tasting, 2-6 p.m., Vineyard Wine Market, 4414 Evans to Locks Road, Evans; (706) 922-9463

Historic vineyard tour, 4:30 p.m., Redcliffe Plantation, 181 Redcliffe Road, two miles outside Beech Island, S.C.; $10 adults, $7 ages 6-16; learn about plantation’s 19th century history as a vineyard and winery; (803) 827-1473 or e-mail redcliffe@scprt.com

FRIDAY, OCT. 4

Wine tasting, 5-8 p.m., Wine World, 133 Georgia Ave., North Augusta; three whites and three reds and cheeses’ $5 with rebate on purchase of featured wines; (803) 279-9522

SATURDAY, OCT. 19

Columbia County Wine Festival, 1-4 p.m., Savannah Rapids Pavillion, 3300 Evans to Locks Road, Martinez; $35 in advance from csrawinefestival.com, The Vineyard Wine Market, Ninth Street Wine Market or Evans Towne Market or $40 at the door; includes assortment of foods, more than 200 wines, imported beers, live jazz and door prizes

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