WHAT: Classic Cabernet Sauvignon is still one of the most popular wines in the United States, and with good reason. It is an approachable wine, usually easier to grow than many others and very drinkable in many styles.
It also is a great wine with food.
The Clos du Bois Cabernet Sauvignon is a great choice for everyday drinking. It has deep, intense flavors wrapped in velvety tannins. It is full-bodied, but it doesn’t overpower food pairings.
The deep, dark ruby color in the glass gives the first hint about the intensity. Complex blackberry aromas with touches of spice and vanilla lead to dark berry flavors, including blackberry and plum. Supple tannins give the wine plenty of backbone, but the mouthfeel is smooth and elegant.
The wine starts with grapes from top vineyards in Sonoma, Lake and Mendocino counties from California’s North Coast appellation. North Coast wines have created a lot of buzz in recent years as wine drinkers have begun to notice the great wines coming out of the region. The Pacific Ocean influence helps create a long growing season, allowing the grapes to develop depth and intensity.
The grapes were destemmed but not crushed and placed in stainless steel fermenters. Juice was pumped over the skins three times a day for eight days until the alcohol fermentation was complete. Some lots then were pressed and put in barrels to undergo malolactic fermentation for 20-30 days.
After 11 months in a combination of French, Eastern European and American oak barrels (36 percent new) the wine was racked and blended before bottling.
The wine is 85 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 9 percent Merlot with small amounts of Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Syrah and Petit Verdot. The wine should continue to improve in the bottle for 3-5 years, but it is drinking nicely now.
WINERY: Clos du Bois has been making wine for 40 years, gaining a reputation for consistent quality. Its first vintage was 1974 (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and reserve Cabernet Sauvignon), long before Sonoma County made its reputation as a great wine region.
The name comes from founder Frank Woods’ plan to name the new winery ‘‘Woods Vineyard.” His children, who were studying French at the time, suggested the more exotic “Clos du Bois” instead, which loosely translates to “enclosure in the woods.”
After traveling France’s wine regions, Woods returned home inspired to marry the elegant French style of winemaking with his vibrant California fruit. Decades later, the winery continues to embrace his artisanal winemaking philosophy, earning a devoted following among those who love refined, approachable wines.
The company farms almost 800 acres in diverse regions of Sonoma County and coastal California, working closely with growers with whom it has long-term relationships. The winery has been using sustainable practices since its beginning, and now gets nearly all of its power from solar panels
The winery makes a variety of wines in several tiers. The Classic series includes everything from Malvasia Blanca, Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio to Pinot Noir, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.
A Sonoma Reserve series includes Chardonnay, Fume Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Merlot, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Tempranillo, Pinot Noir and Malbec. Clos du Bois also offers a Marlstone premium red blend.
GOES WITH: My wife, Teri, and I had this with slow- cooked rib tips, a baked potato, peas and butter beans. I was delighted when I found rib tips at the butcher shop because I hadn’t eaten them in years. They were one of the delicacies at many South Side Chicago rib shacks.
I cooked them all day in a slow cooker with beer, onions and Mumbo Sauce, my favorite Chicago barbecue sauce. I think they would be even better using wine instead of beer. The ribs and the wine were fabulous.
Rib tips have some of the softest, most tender pieces of meat on a pig. After slow cooking for six hours, the meat fell off the bone and was infused with pungent sauce. The Clos du Bois Cab was a great match. The concentrated soft fruit tastes of the wine played off the spicy sauce and made for a memorable meal.
The wine also would go well with grilled meats and vegetables and wild game such as boar, squab or venison. You couldn’t go wrong by pairing this with hamburgers or pizza.