March Domestic Wine: 2010 Castoro Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles, CALIFORNIA

The husband and wife team of Niels and Bimmer Udsen established Castoro Cellars with the goal of producing world-class wines from Paso Robles-appellation grapes. Each vintage presents a new challenge and Niels is more than willing to constantly and creatively experiment. This on-going research is only one of the things that ensures they meet their goal.

Niels’ long-time nickname “Beaver,” evolved further when he was working in Italy and his friends soon took to calling him “Il Castoro,” which is beaver in Italian. The name and the motto stuck. Castoro Cellars’ “dam fine wines” sport a picture of a beaver on each label.

History of Cabernet Sauvignon and its Relation to Castoro: Cabernet is one of the world’s most widely recognized red wine grape varieties. It is grown in nearly every major wine producing country among a diverse spectrum of climates from Canada’s Okanagan Valley to Lebanon’s Beqaa Valley. Cabernet Sauvignon became internationally recognized through its prominence in Bordeaux wines, where it is often blended with Merlot and Cabernet Franc. From France, the grape spread across Europe and to the New World where it found new homes in places like California’s Napa Valley, Australia’s Coonawarra region and Chile’s Maipo Valley. For most of the 20th century, it was the world’s most widely planted premium red wine grape until it was surpassed by Merlot in the 1990s.

Despite its prominence in the industry, the grape is a relatively new variety, the product of a chance crossing between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc during the 17th century in southwestern France. Its popularity is often attributed to its ease of cultivation—the grapes have thick skins and the vines are hardy and resistant to rot and frost—and to its consistent presentation of structure and flavors which express the typical character (“typicity“) of the variety. Familiarity and ease of pronunciation have helped to sell Cabernet Sauvignon wines to consumers, even when from unfamiliar wine regions. Its widespread popularity has also contributed to criticism of the grape as a “colonizer” that takes over wine regions at the expense of native grape varieties.

Varietals: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon

Alcohol: 14.7% by volume

Tasting Notes: This wine is packed with rich berries, ripe fruit aromas and flavors. Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon tends to be ready to drink early on with formidable aging capacity.

Food Pairings: Drink this with a hearty entrée or with a selection of rich cheeses.

Jim Lutfy’s thoughts: “Full throttle, big, and rich with a long lasting finish. A fantastic Cab loaded with cherries and raspberries.”-JL 

March Imported Wine: 2010 Macedon Pinot Noir, Tikves, MACEDONIA

From the country of Macedonia, this stunning Pinot is named for Alexander the Great (the original “Macedon”), and hails from an area noted as the “cross-roads of the ancient world, and the birthplace of wine”. It originates in Gradsko, sharing the same latitude band as Burgundy and Russian River Valley. The 40+ year old vines grow where two major weather fronts collide: the Aral Mountain continental and the Greek Aegean, yielding virtually no rain and consistent wind. The result is a wine of terrific elegance and complexity, rich yet linear; pretty, but with depth and power.

History of Wine in Macedonia: The Republic of Macedonia produces wine on some 22,400 hectares (55,000 acres) of vineyards, and the production was 108,100 tons in 2008. There are also some additional 30,000 hectares (74,000 acres) of vineyards dedicated to table grapes. The production of red wine dominates the Macedonian wine production, with around 80 percent. Within the European Union, “Macedonia” (Μακεδονία) is a protected geographical indication (PGI) for wine from the Greek region of Macedonia.

Varietals: 100% Pinot Noir

Alcohol: 13.0% by volume

Pronunciation: Macedon (mass-a-don)

Tasting Notes:  Macedon has a classically bright bouquet, an elegant palate, and dark fruits that are rich and satisfying.

Food Pairings: Pair with seafood, mild cheese, prosciutto, rabbit, and earthy mushrooms.

Jim Lutfy’s thoughts: “An old world Pinot from an odd place…Macedonia. This wine truly delivers. It over achieves! A great example of Pinot Noir! I love the texture and mouthfeel and the interesting fruit.”-JL