The rules for what grapes go into a particular wine vary from country to country. France has very strict rules for what can be considered Bordeaux, for example, as does Italy for Chianti, Spain for Rioja, etc. That California wine you’re drinking might say “Cabernet Sauvignon” on the label, but 99% of the time you’re also tasting other grapes in that particular vintage. Although compared to Europe it’s much easier in America to determine what grape variety you’re drinking from the label, it would be more accurate if the label read “Mostly Cabernet Sauvignon,” because like the great winemakers of Bordeaux, American winemakers like to blend; and that’s a good thing.
By rule, a California wine can be labeled Cabernet Sauvignon as long as it has at least 70% of the juice coming from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. Any less than that and it has to be called a “Red Blend,” or something along those lines. Many of these red blends from Napa taste just as good as a Cabernet, but don’t fetch as high a price, so it’s in the best interest of the winemaker to try to adhere to the rules, or lose money.
I saw this week’s featured wine on a restaurant wine list, it was the only Cab available, so I had no idea what to expect. Thankfully, it went very well with my steak that evening, so when I saw it in the store a few weeks later for $16, I picked up a bottle and enjoyed it a second time. Silver Palm is labeled Cabernet Sauvignon, but it’s actually a blend of three grapes: 70% Cabernet, 20% Merlot from Sonoma, and 10% Cabernet Franc from Mendocino County. Because the grapes are taken from all over California’s North Coast, it’s not as expensive as many wines that come from a specific estate, but this is not a poor quality vino! The 2016 Silver Palm Cabernet Sauvignon impresses with rich blackberry aromas, soft black cherry and raspberry flavors, cinnamon and clove, and a lightly spicy finish. It’s not going to win any gold medals on the international stage, but a solid wine to try, if you haven’t already.
On my five cork scale based on taste and value the 2016 Silver Palm Cabernet Sauvignon from Jackson Family Wines gets 3.8 corks. It’s a solid performer that you can find for under $20 just about everywhere.
If you’d like to try interesting wines like this, please join me at our next private wine party at Sorrento’s Norwood Italian! I host a wine dinner there every month, and we feature several interesting wines, each paired with a delicious course. There are always cool prizes to win, too, so listen Wednesday at 4:15 to win your spot on the guest list, or click here for a chance to win!