California wines: Red Velvet a smooth operator

Mmmm . . .

In the preceding post, I wondered if a wine called Red Velvet from Cupcake Vineyards would live up to the taste description on its label.

Answer: Oh, yes . . . and then some.

Red Velvet: As regular readers know, one of my New Year’s resolutions was to sample wines from California. In January, my partner and I sampled three (listed below). Yesterday, over a delicious pizza ordered from a restaurant in Greely, Ontario, we sampled Cupcake’s Red Velvet wine with our dear friend Ted at his home.

The consensus from the first sip: Delicious.

It is, indeed, “rich, soft and elegant,” as the Cupcake Vineyards website states. Not a word of a lie: the person who wrote the description nailed it:

Experience a wine as rich, soft and elegant as red velvet. Our Red Velvet blend delivers over-the-top aromas of chocolate, deep dark blackberries and luscious red fruits that follow through to the palate. Finish with a hint of coconut and creamy mocha that shows unmistakable intensity and length. Red Velvet combines Zinfandel, Merlot, and Petite Sirah. Each varietal adds distinct characteristics and lends structure, aroma and depth of flavor. We ferment each varietal separately before blending. Finally, a unique oak regime infuses creaminess.

My companions weren’t so sure about the “aromas of chocolate,” but both agreed with “the deep dark blackberries and luscious red fruits that follow through to the palate.”

I don’t think I have ever tasted such a delicious wine before. It is well named, both for its velvety smoothness and its deep — and sexy — ruby colour. I love this wine’s depth and its creamy feel in the mouth. It’s full bodied without bite, if that makes sense (I am not a pro wine critic), and it’s not too sweet and not dry. In short, it is perfectly balanced.

This is a wine for all occasions, but I’m thinking it is the perfect one to share with your lover over a candlelit dinner, soft music and . . . whatever follows afterward.

This wine is going to be a tough act to follow in my samplings of California wines, though I am hearing that others produced by Cupcake Vineyards, based in Livermore, are outstanding, too. I can’t imagine a wine from anywhere in the world tasting better than Red Velvet. It is perfection. The word “divine” comes to mind. It cost $15.95 at the SAQ. I went back today and bought two more bottles for future candlelit dinners. Rating: 10 (on a scale of 1 to 10).

Here are the California wines we sampled in January:

Clos du Bois, a 2102 Cabernet Sauvignon from a winery in Geyserville, California, drew “Mmmm”s of appreciation from three of us when we took our first sips with a dinner of salmon, baked potatoes and veggies. It is very smooth at first taste, and lives up to its billing on the label, displaying “aromas and flavors of dark berry, bittersweet chocolate and hints of spice.” It’s a full-bodied dry wine and “French inspired” just as the label claims. It sold for about $18 at the SAQ, but offered a promotional coupon for $1.50 off, plus a free red eternity scarf — which I have been wearing. We liked the wine so much that I purchased two more bottles! My opinion: Meant to be drunk with dinner, not alone. Rating: 8.5

Revolution, a Cabernet Sauvignon version from this popular company in Sacramento, California. This wine was tasty, but lite — the word “watery” comes to mind. A nice drink on a hot summer day, either on its own or with salad. It was on sale at the SAQ for $9.95 but has since been raised to about $10.95. Rating: 7

Fetzer, a 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon from this winery in Hopland, California. It is clearly the winner of the month (January), and lives up to its label billing of “elegant flavours of black cherry and chocolate.” It is, indeed, elegant and full-bodied, with an intriguing aftertaste that lingers longer than any wine I have sipped before. We drank it with a spicy spaghetti dinner and garlic bread, and it proved to be a noble accompaniment. It sold for about $16 at the SAQ, but had a promotional coupon for $1 off. Yes, I will be buying more of this one. My opinion: Meant to be drunk with dinner, not alone. Rating: 9

— Jillian

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