The Over-educated, Under-funded Sommelier
Given my restaurant experience in undergrad, I mainly worked food and beverage while working in the hospitality sector in St. Croix. The higher you rise in management, the easier it is to make new friends--funny how that works. I quickly made friends with a variety of beverage distributors and developed a taste for fine wine--especially bold reds-- that border-lined on snobbery. Like my predicament with cuisine, I wasn't about to let living on a PhD stipend stop my oenophile tendencies. Hopefully, this page is a testament to me keeping my high standards (while on a budget).
Whoever said never judge by a label was wrong. My love of art deco immediately drew this wine to my attention. It's been a match made in heaven ever since. This is my benchmark wine -- the gold standard that I compare all others to. It is a very heavy, full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon (cab sav). It has a standard cab sav profile with notes of cassis, blackberry, raspberry and vanilla. While the tannins are lighter than its old-world cousins, it still needs about 15-20 minutes in a decanter before serving. Also, I would not open it until at least the 5-year mark. As I learned the hard way, the maximum I would let this wine sit in a cellar is 10 years.
La Enfermera (the nurse) Tempranillo
Tempranillo is probably my favorite varietal (with cab sav a close second). It is complex in its profile, it is versatile in its pairings, it doesn't require a lot of aging and its comparatively cheap. This offering starts off with lovely notes of plum and pomegranate, then transitions to honey vanilla associated with oak-barrel aging and finishes with the earthy tobacco that is unique (imho) to Tempranillo. Minimal decanting is required. The lack of firm tannins means this won't age well so enjoy young.
After trying this, I've been kicking myself for having South Africa off my wine radar for so long. This is a very fruit-forward wine with notes of apple, plum, berry, honey and kiwi. It requires about 20-25 minutes of decanting and is best enjoyed within the 3–5-year mark.
Montello e Colli Asolani
Since the advent of super-Tuscans (wine made from Italian and French varietals), it is not unusual to see an Italian-grown cab sav. To see a "pure" cab sav with a DOC classification is still unusual enough that I was compelled to pick it up and try it. After tasting it, I'm fairly neutral. I don't regret buying it but I'm not sure when I'll pick up another bottle. It is a standard old-world cab sav profile--more acidic, less fruity than its new world cousins. After about 15 minutes of decanting, slightly sour plum, cassis and tart blackberry notes poked through. This didn't change after another 10 minutes in the decanter. True to its Italian origin, it pairs best with meaty, red-sauced pasta dishes.