I Love Organic Wine - A Mendocino, California Cabernet Sauvignon

Bonterra WineMendocino County faces the Pacific Ocean, past Sonoma and Marin Counties to the north of San Francisco. This lovely area is best known for its sparkling wines including some by the French Champagne house Roederer Estate. The wine reviewed below comes from the Ukiah Valley, home to several prestigious wine makers, two breweries, and a town named Ukiah which was voted the #1 best small town to live in California.  Bonterra is an organic wine producer who also makes biodynamic wine costing over twice today's offering. Their main ranch building is made of reclaimed materials.

OUR WINE REVIEW POLICY All wines that we taste and review are purchased at the full retail price.

Wine Reviewed Bonterra Cabernet Sauvignon (V) 2006 12.8% alcohol about $18

Let's start by quoting the marketing materials. Description: This Cabernet used only organically grown grapes. The extra effort rewards with pure and polished aromas and flavors of cassis, cherry, roasted herbs, licorice and ripe blackberry, all wrapped in silky tannins with a medium-long finish. Enjoy with rosemary-and-thyme-rubbed veal chops, or with a hearty lasagna of beef, zucchini and eggplant. Our Quality Assurance Laboratory has determined that this wine contains 15 mg/L of free sulphur. And now for my review.

With the first sips the wine was mouth-filling and quite long. The initial meal consisted of slow-cooked beef ribs with sliced potatoes and a side of eggplant roasted with the skin in lots of olive oil and garlic. The wine was very plummy with some tobacco and soft tannins. Its length was fine. The eggplant dish intensified the tobacco taste. When I added a spicy green jalapeno pepper sauce the wine stepped up to meet it.

The second meal included zucchini and onions stuffed with rice and ground beef, cooked with potatoes and spices including pepper, garlic powder and cumin. The Cabernet Sauvignon was round with black cherries and some oak; it's aged in a mixture of French and American oak. It was mouth-filling and I tasted tobacco in the background.

The final meal centered around store-bought barbecued chicken wings in a sweet and sour sauce and chicken thighs whose skin was dusted with paprika. The sides were rice and green beans in a homemade tomato sauce. Once again the wine was round; now I got more than a touch of tobacco in the background. It was quite a good match.

I tasted this wine with two cheeses; a goat's milk cheese and a Swiss Emmenthaler. The Cab was fruity and long when accompanied by the goat's milk cheese. With the Swiss I noted dark cherries and tobacco, with a good length.

Final verdict. This wine was quite good. But if you aren't restricted to organic I don't think that it justified its price tag. Once in a while I've had $10 wines that are almost as good.
Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten books on computers and the Internet, but would rather just drink fine German or other wine, accompanied by the right foods. He teaches various computer classes at an Ontario French-language community college. Check out his global wine website http://www.theworldwidewine.com with a weekly column reviewing $10 wines and new sections writing about (theory) and tasting (practice) organic and kosher wines.