The Hess Collection Winery
19 Block Cuvee
Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Syrah, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc
Napa, California, USA
$23.99 -- Costco, Austin, TX
Color: Deep garnet
Nose: Eucalyptus, cherry, espresso
Front: Tart cherry, nopal
Middle: Licorice, mint, chocolate
Back: Leather, spicy tannins, sage
Burns clean?: Mostly
Put a little Syrah in it, and it's no longer a Bordeaux blend. Here's the thing, though: you don't need that reference point to enjoy this wine. It's Napa Valley mountain action, all the way. It's briary, dark, brooding, serious: not much fruity, though substantial and juicy. I love this paradox of wines from this region, as I have attested before. They're big like Napa, but they're weird like some of the best wines anywhere, and they carry serious terroir into your face.
So the pairing tonight was a failure: grilled ribeye. It's like you had a small party and you invited two awesome people that you didn't realize had dated but who broke up a few months ago and have still been following each others' endeavors on Facebook, but haven't actually posted anything on each others' walls or even really "liked" anything on each others' pages yet because it's still awkward. Not bad, just awkward. The alcohol makes it okay, but you don't want to repeat the experiment. This I'd pair with a mole, or a watermelon and mint salad (try it! let me know!), or a peppery wild boar ragu with mushrooms and pasta.
Somebody please let me know if nopal has been used before in a tasting note. I've tasted it before in some southern hemisphere whites but didn't have the courage to utter it.