Chappellet has always been one of my favorite wines. I tried a Chappellet the first time while staying at a bed and breakfast in Staunton, VA. (The Belle Grae Inn, now closed.) It was a 1992 Signature Cabernet, and my husband and I enjoyed it so much, we came home and purchased a case. We treasured each bottle over the years, savoring every drop, until all the bottles were gone in 2001. Last year, I received a wine refrigerator from my husband for my birthday, to properly store the wine that we have collected. Inside the refrigerator was a bottle of Chappellet 2007 Signature Cabernet Sauvignon. Not the 1992, which is difficult to find, but a wonderful new vintage for us to enjoy.
Chappellet is a Napa Valley/Pritchard Hill Estate winery, known for their full-bodied Cabernet. The grapes are grown on Pritchard Hill, the site of an ancient volcano, so the soil is rich in minerals, perfect for growing grapes. Although the 2007 was a litttle bit “young” when we tried it, it had a spirited coffee-berry taste, and spicy tannins of cinnamon and pepper. The 2007 vintage is a little more expensive, at about $49 a bottle, but is well worth the price, especially if you set it aside for a year or two.
I guess now would be a good time to explain “young.” I truly am not intending to be a wine snob, but most red wines benefit from sitting. By sitting, I mean sitting on your shelf/wine refrigerator/cool dark place. (I will explain the correct way to store your wine, as well as decanting next week.) Red wine, including Cabernet, ages in the bottle, and usually the longer it sits, the smoother its tannins, and therefore taste. This is not always the case, but the rule of thumb is, the more expensive the Cabernet, the longer it should sit. For wines priced $12.00 and more, 4-6 years from the date of vintage is best. Less expensive wines can usually be used right away, or within 1-2 years. Which means that our 2007 Chappellet was very nice in 2010, but will be more mellow in 2012. We got a second bottle, and are looking forward to drinking it next year.
Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the most popular red wines on the market. Go into any liquor or wine store, and you will find rows and rows of Cabernet. Cabs can be bold and fruity, or, when blended with Merlot, more subdued. Cabernet is great with beef and other red meats, strong cheeses, and rich, saucy pastas. You may love your Cabernet, but I personally do not recommend it with fish, as it will overwhelm the delicate flavor of the fish. As with all wine, however, it is based on your personal preference. One food that I definitely recommend trying a Cabernet with, especially a bold Cabernet such as the Chappellet, is a gorgeous chocolate mousse or other dark chocolate treat. The coffee-berry flavor of the Chappellet will literally pop in your mouth with the dark chocolate. Don’t believe me? Try a bite of chocolate the next time you have a class of Cabernet. It is heavenly!
To find out more about Chappellet wines, go to their website here.