Mendocino County lies on the Pacific Ocean, past Sonoma and Marin Counties to the north of San Francisco. This lovely area is particularly known for sparkling wines including some by the French Champagne house Roederer Estate. The wine reviewed below comes from the Ukiah Valley, home to several prestigious wine makers, two breweries, and a town named Ukiah once voted the #1 best small town to live in California. Bonterra is an organic wine producer who also makes biodynamic wine that costs more than twice today's offering. Their main ranch building is made of reclaimed materials.
OUR WINE REVIEW POLICY All wines that we taste and review are purchased at the full retail price.
Let's start by quoting the marketing materials. Description: This Cabernet used only organically grown grapes. The extra effort rewards with pure and polished aromas and flavors of cassis, cherry, roasted herbs, licorice and ripe blackberry, all wrapped in silky tannins with a medium-long finish. Enjoy with rosemary-and-thyme-rubbed veal chops, or with a hearty lasagna of beef, zucchini and eggplant. Our Quality Assurance Laboratory has determined that this wine contains 15 mg/L of free sulphur. And now for my review.
With the first sips the wine was mouth-filling and quite long. The initial meal consisted of slow-cooked beef ribs with sliced potatoes and a side of eggplant roasted in its skin with lots of olive oil and garlic. The wine was very plummy with some tobacco and soft tannins. Its length was fine. The eggplant dish intensified the wine's tobacco taste. When I added a spicy green jalapeno pepper sauce the wine stepped up to meet it.
The second meal included zucchini and onions stuffed with rice and ground beef, cooked with potatoes and spices including pepper, garlic powder and cumin. The Cabernet Sauvignon was round with black cherries and some oak; it's aged in a mixture of French and American oak. It was mouth-filling and I tasted tobacco in the background.
The final meal centered around store-bought barbecued chicken wings in a sweet and sour sauce and chicken thighs whose skin was dusted with paprika. The sides were rice and green beans in a homemade tomato sauce. Once again the wine was round; now I got more than a touch of tobacco in the background. It was quite a good match.
I tasted this wine with two cheeses; a goat's milk cheese and a Swiss Emmenthaler. The Cab was fruity and long when accompanied by the goat's milk cheese. With the Swiss I noted dark cherries and tobacco, with a good length.
Final verdict. This wine was quite good. But if you aren't restricted to organic I don't think that it justified its price tag. Once in a while I've had $10 wines that are almost as good.
Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten computer and Internet books, but definitely prefers drinking fine French, German, or other wine. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario French-language community college. His global wine website www.theworldwidewine.com features a weekly review of $10 wines and new sections writing about and tasting organic and kosher wines. Visit his Italian wine website www.theitalianwineconnection.com .