zAs a wine lover, I get asked if I have a favorite wine from time to time. I always say that there are certain types I am drawn to but generally speaking I love all wines. Very rarely do I taste a wine with no redeeming qualities. The experience of drinking wine is so much more than just tasting a beverage though. It is about life! Each wine I’ve tasted represents a meal, an experience, or just a time with my friends and family.
When it comes to Oregon wines, I love that we have so many varietals to choose from and areas those varietals can be grown. Living in Eugene we are right in between the amazing Willamette Valley where we have some of the worlds best Pinot Noir, and the phenomenal Southern Oregon wineries. Many times a winery will buy grapes from the North or the South and create a masterpiece at their own facility. Eola Hills has done it again with their 2013 Oregon Cabernet Sauvignon.
Eola Hills has an amazing array of varietals to choose from. I recently stopped by their McMinnville tasting room and enjoyed a flight full of cold climate varietals like Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir, but also tasted some Merlot and Zinfandel (with grapes bought from Lodi, California!). Their first vintage was in 1986, and in 1987 they built the Eola Hills Wine Cellar in Rickreall, Oregon. They produce many diverse varietals, and have selections at a wide variety of price points. For us frugal buyers, finding a winery that makes a point to keep their wines at an affordable level is so nice. They have many selections that are under $20 like the 2012 Pinot Noir, the 2008 Classic Syrah, and the 2013 Classic Chardonnay.
The 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon was a really nice find. Cabernet is a hard varietal to find in Oregon. There are many options out there, but at the normal grocery store usually most Cabs come from California and Washington. This is mostly due to the amount of heat that certain areas of these states get. When I spotted the Oregon Cabernet Sauvignon, I got really excited to try one that has grapes that are grown closer to home. Usually big bodied, and full of ripe tannins – I love a good Cab! There is just something so luscious and unique about this varietal.
The first thing I noticed when I poured this wine into my glass was of course the color. I love the deep purple color of a good red wine. Cabernet is pretty heavy on the scale of reds, so a dark color is very common and a sign of things to come. While I’ve had “thicker” Cabs in terms of body, I thought this one was perfect. It leaned toward medium bodied, but was very rich. My senses were bombarded with flavors of cocoa, dark berries, and hints of smoke and leather. I even got notes of coca-cola! The 78% dark chocolate bar I ate while I drank a glass of this wine was the perfect pairing. I loved the way the smooth chocolate brought out the smokiness and berry flavors of this wine. There were of course tannins, but overall the balance on this wine was perfect.
This wine had everything I love in a great wine: it was delicious, from Oregon, and at a fantastic price point. I picked this wine up for about $16 at my local market, but have seen it everywhere. If you happen to be near Rickreall, OR (Just 10 miles from Salem – not far!), I highly recommend checking out the wonderful options at Eola Hills. They also have a tasting room in downtown McMinnville.
Summer may be coming, but Cabernet Sauvignon is the perfect choice for most any occasion. This wine goes great with grilled meats (especially a nice thick steak!), and snuggling up on the couch with your favorite movie. Cheers to delicious, local wine!