Having looked at two Malbecs from Graffigna the other day, my attention now shifts to Cabernet Sauvignon. When I first started experimenting with and discovering South American wines, Cabernet was my focus. I was amazed early on at some of the real bargains that could be had. I'm happy to report, that's still true. Of course there are many more South American wines on our store shelves these days, so the options, quality and varietal wise are pretty wide. First up is the 2006 Graffigna Centanario Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine is 100% varietal. It was aged in a 50/50 split of French and American oak for 12 months, followed by 6 months of bottle aging, prior to release. The suggested retail price for this wine is $13.
As soon as you pour this wine you'll notice a burnt cherry apple red hue. The nose is filled with aromas of bright red fruit. Wild strawberry and red raspberry dominate. Throughout the palate, which is remarkably smooth, for such an inexpensive, young Cabernet, lots of berry fruit, and a touch of earthiness, come to the forefront. This is a gentle, but fully flavorful Cabernet Sauvignon with a pretty long, persistent, lingering finish. This wine has easy, soft tannins and good acidity.
What I like best about the Graffigna Centanario is that it's a steal. This wine over delivers and reminds me of precisely the sort of bargains that turned me on to South American wines to begin with. Is it the best Cabernet I've had in 2009? That it's not, but it's easily the best Cabernet value I've tasted thus far this year.
The second wine is the 2005 Graffigna grand Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. As with the Centanario it's also 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Oak treatment and bottle aging prior to release are also identical. The suggested retail price is $20.
Dark fruit, in the form of black cherries, raspberries, blueberries and plum fill the nose of this Grand Reserve Cabernet. The palate features more cherry, cedar, and chicory, along with eucalyptus and tobacco. A hint of dark bitter chocolate emerges on the finish, joined by copious earth notes. The finish is long, lush, and smooth. This wine has soft, approachable tannins and good acidity.
After tasting the Centanario, I wondered how the Grand Reserve would compare value wise. As it should be, the Grand Reserve is a bit more complex with a longer finish. That makes the Grand Reserve a good deal in its price category.