There is a lot of experimentation going on in the wine world today, especially in Washington State, and I love it. Not only are we seeing interesting blends and grape varieties that are new to the American continent, but winemakers are also experimenting with aging techniques. There’s still plenty of traditional aging in new French oak barrels, to be sure, but you can also find interesting red wines that have virtually no oak aging whatsoever, or a mix of old (neutral) oak, and even concrete.
Winemakers are also testing the limits of how long the juice of a grape can stay in contact with the skins. (Wine 101: The process of soaking grape juice with the skins is called maceration.) Generally speaking, white wines have no contact with the grape skins at all, Rosés have a few days at most, red wines have roughly a month of soak time with the skins, after which time it is aged in oak barrels for months, or years, before being bottled.
This week’s featured wine blows the traditional maceration formula out of the water, with juice contact with the grape skins going a full 9 months in a stainless steel tank. I had never heard of this technique before researching the Intrinsic Cabernet Sauvignon – I only knew I really liked the wine! The 2017 Intrinsic Cab is 94% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 6% Cabernet Franc, featuring grapes harvested mostly from the famed Horse Heaven Hills area of Washington State. Half the blend was aged in neutral French Oak barrels, 10% in concrete, the rest is not oak-aged at all. The result is a unique tasting, full-bodied wine featuring black cherry and blueberry flavors, with notes of mocha and vanilla, a velvety mouthfeel, nice structure, and a dry finish.
On my five-cork scale based on taste and value, I give the 2017 Intrinsic Cabernet Sauvignon 3.8 corks. This is a solid, tasty wine, at a reasonable price, with an absolutely beautiful label. Intrinsic also makes a dynamite red blend, if you want something other than Cabernet.
If you’d like to try interesting wines like this, please join me at our next private wine party, some day, when conditions allow! I usually host a wine dinner every month, and we feature several interesting wines, each paired with a delicious course. Click here to get on the next guest list, and leave a comment on our Facebook page to win a gift card to go out and buy this wine for yourself.