03 November, 2008

Levendi! Review of 2005 Sweetwater Ranch Cabernet

Yassou! Is a toast I learned on my recent trip to Greece. But aside from being dazzled by the scenery and entrepreneurial spirit, the Greek wine didn't really inspire me...except for one place where they specialized in jewelry AND wine and if not for the sobering effects of the dollar:Euro exchange rate, well, let's just say I'm glad I didn't sign up for any wine clubs or layaway jewelry. There's respecting the entrepreneur and there's plain old tipsy-crazy shopping.

However, recently, thanks to the awesome Wine Spies, I got the the chance to sample some made-by-Greeks http://www.levendiwinery.com/story.html) Napa Cab that is definitely something to write home about. The Levendi Estate 2005 Sweetwater Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon, is an opaque dark ruby color. The aromas bounded out of the bottle the second I pulled the cork with that enticing Napa Cab scent of summer in the cellar---perfect for a rainy Monday. The first sip was intensely oaky, so I decanted for an hour before settling in for serious tasting. After an hour, the puckery tannins had dissipated somewhat, and I got lots of black cherry flavors with a hint of muted cassis and something extra, I couldn't identify (later looking at the notes on the bottle, it hit me: blueberry!), with a long black cherry finish. I do like a big, oaky wine. This wine definitely fell in the category of "food slutty". A good thing really. Some wines like to be around food, but can take it or leave it. Then there are the Food Slutty wines that just "gotta have it". This was such a wine. I found it was nice with pasta and bolognese, very nice with dark, bittersweet chocolate and particularly nice with a brie. The boldness of the tannins worked best with the creamy cheese. After about 2 hours of decanting, I got a lot more cherry vanilla aromas and softer tannins that allowed some of the other flavors--chocolate, leather---to come forward. After 5 hours of decanting, my patience was rewarded with the promised dark chocolate finish. Decanting made all the difference. When I picked up my sample, another meaning of the phrase "Levendi" was explained to me, which I can't translate easily into English, but in Spanish it would be "Que mango!" meaning an attractive guy full of life and spirit. So this wine would definitely be Levendi---yummy, social and full of fun. If you're looking to track it down. try the Wine Spies http://thewinespies.com/. Despite the cloak-and-dagger name, they really do make discovering wines easy and fun!

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