Gnarly Head Cellars makes a handful of wines. I looked at their Zinfandels in the past and found them to serve the intent they seemed to be aimed at. So when their Cabernet Sauvignon found its way to my desk I was intrigued to see what it was all about. The 2006 Gnarly Head Cabernet Sauvignon is made from fruit sourced in Mendocino, Paso Robles, Monterey and Lodi. Small amounts of Petite Sirah and Malbec, both from Lodi, are blended in. 100,000 cases of this wine were produced and the suggested retail price is $12.
Blackberries and dark plum, underscored by cedar highlight the nose of this Cabernet. The palate is diverse and layered featuring hints of jam as well as chicory and mocha notes. It has a fairly rich mid-palate which packs a ton of flavor into a modestly priced package. The tannins in this wine are firm but approachable. The finish is loaded with earth and spice notes, particularly black pepper which is abundant. While this wine will match well with a burger or other meats I found I liked it best with dark chocolate.
One of the standouts about this Cabernet is that it has none of the green vegetal notes that are sometimes associated with Cabernet Sauvignon in this price category.
When 100,000 cases of a wine are produced it's a clear sign that the intent is to be considered as an everyday drinker or house wine. With the holidays coming up, this is the sort of wine I keep a few bottles of around in gift bags. You never know when someone is going to stop by unexpectedly and drop off a little holiday cheer. It can be hard to know exactly how to reciprocate those Holiday gifts you never saw coming. Having a few bottles of wine in the cellar in gift bags makes it easy to give right back. If you go with the Gnarly Head Cabernet, I'd suggest slipping a bar of dark chocolate in that gift bag too. They go really well together and it'll seem like a well planned present. Since this wine is commonly available for around $10 it's an affordable gift idea too.
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