after dinner sneeze

a lot of g says, t says

the PLCB finally stocked a great California Cab

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t says:  I’m hard on the PLCB.  But I feel like I’m justified!  The PLCB is responsible for the horrible selection we see in our liquor stores.  Basically, you can find a lot of swill or a lot of really expensive bottles (“I’m going to buy aged first-growth Bordeaux from a PA liquor store” … was said by no one, ever …).  Sure there are some times that the state gets a good “deal” on certain wines, but I have found that if PA got a deal on something, it’s because no one else was willing to pay full price for it … which means that more often than not, it’s going to be not-that-good.  And it’s not like the staff is full of wine enthusiasts who’ve tasted every bottle and can help you find that very “interesting” bottle or that “new producer” or that “weird grape”.  And should you do the unthinkable and ask anything beyond, “where can I find the Merlot?”, you’re directed to someone who has a little more knowledge, but still lacks the enthusiasm I want out of a “wine dude” (or dudette).  Please!  Tell me a story!  Who made the wine?  What’s in the bottle?  What’s it going to taste like?  Will I like it if I also like X-Y-Z wine?  Don’t just direct me to the “Chairman’s Selection”.  I tell ya’ what: I hate the Chairman.  There.  I said it (after editing out my more colorful, 3-worded statements).  Now, I realize that my needs sound a little extreme, but if people can get away with being this annoyingly inquisitive at Whole Foods, I’m allowed to be annoyingly inquisitive at wine stores.  Actually, if anything, people this annoying at Whole Foods get pats on the back and nods of approval … I get vacant stares …

So here’s the situation I was recently in: a $20 bill in my hand, a desire for some good cabernet sauvignon, and no car to get me to Jersey or Delaware.  Damn!  Now sure, at the Fine Wine and Spirits Shop at 21st and Market, there are going to be some reasonable standby’s to spend that crisp clean Jackson on, like H3 (in the $11-14 range) and Louis Martini (in the $15-$20 range).  Or there are cheater options like heading over to the Australia section for some Penfold’s Kununga Hill Shiraz-Cab blend.  But, at best, these are only “ok” options, meaning I’m happy to drink them if someone else buying, but if I’m going to have the adsz crew over for some Finer-Things-Club caliber dining, I have to bring my A-game.  (Or wait – maybe I should be hipster-ironic and pick up a box of Franzia and a bottle of Arbor Mist and call it a day …<insert cricket chirps here>)

Well, just when I thought the PLCB couldn’t be any dumber …
they go and do something like this …

… and totally REDEEM themselves!

But FOR REAL:

2011 Broadside

2011 Broadside “Margarita Vineyard” Cabernet Sauvignon

The nose on this wine is interesting in that, unlike most CA cabs <$20 (disclaimer: it’s only 1 cent less than $20, so with tax, it does exceed $20), it smells like more than just fruity sweet candy.  There’s some kind of mint or menthol giving it some pizazz.  There’s also some kind of subtle musky scent that reminds me of wet dirt (or maybe it’s like how it smells outside in a rural area after a fierce rainstorm).  Strange … but I like it.  Then on the palate is where the bright red fruit comes in and hits you in the face.  And while there are a lot of cabs that can do this, this cab is not the least bit “heavy”.  What do I mean by that?  Well, I don’t feel overwhelmed like I’m drinking a palate-coating super-rich berry milkshake, rather, it’s more like … well … ummm … ?juice?  Wow, that’s not very eloquent.  I tried to get more insight by asking a what he thought:

<BEGIN transmission>
t: hey – if you have any comments re: Broadside last night, i’m going to blog about it today as a “good plcb find!”
a:  is that the sinewy red?
t:  sinewy?
a:  yup
t:  what does that mean in a wine?  …<consults online dictionary> … “strong, lean, muscular?”
a:  Sinewy – Usually referring to a wine with not much fruitiness, but a good balance of alcohol and acidity … although this had a little fruit up front
<END transmission>.

So what does a “good balance of alcohol and acidity mean?”.  Well, in Broadside’s case, the alcohol is lower than one would expect for a typical CA cab, coming in at 13.9% (+/- a few tenths, as allowed by law – the winery claims it comes in at 13.3% which is wicked-low for a CA cab).  Furthermore, the acid is more apparent than most “luscious” CA cabs – but that doesn’t mean it’ll taste “more acidic” (the predominant contributor of burning sensation in wines is the alcohol, not acid), rather, you’re left with a mouth-watering finish that tastes nice and bright.  The result is that you’re ready for another sip pretty quickly and it’ll go well with food.

So … is this $20 wine the end-all be-all of cabernet?  No.  But am I shocked to be this impressed with something I found at a state store?  You bet!  It’s a $20 wine that tastes like … a $20 wine!!  Imagine that!  And it’s most definitely superior to a lot of $50+ cabs I’ve had (n.b. I don’t own a lot of $50 cabs, but I have had the opportunity to taste quite a few on tasting trips).  I hope it”ll be a wine that tastes so good that normal, reasonable people, after first sip, will go “yea, that’s pretty good” and then scrutinize the label to answer “what is this?”  At the same time, hopefully abnormal, unreasonable wine snobs, will go “yea, that’s pretty goodwho is this?”  I don’t know how many state stores have this wine in stock, but it might be worth searching for (for the 21st and Market store it’s straight across from the entrance, on the very bottom shelf of the “Premium Collection” – when I went back to pick up another bottle there were like 8 left!). So check it out, and if you think this wine tastes like butt and have some better suggestions, drop us a comment!

And now, I’m go finish with some wine nerdery … that no one else is interested in reading … unless you want to drop some knowledge at your next dinner party:
Paso Robles is often warmer than Napa, and therefore capable of ultra-ripe, ultra-jammy, alcoholic wines.  But 2011 dealt Paso Robles a very cool growing season, which usually leads to less-ripe, less-jammy, less-alcoholic wines.  Now combine this with a producer like Broadside who already specializes in lower-alcohol wines and uses little-to-no new oak (the tech sheet claims 3% new oak), and the result is a pretty atypical California cabernet.  So if you like this style of wine, then let’s talk!  Oh, and they also make a Merlot (which I’ve never had) and a “Red Blend” (that is also at the PLCB).

EDIT (20-Feb-2014):
So I went back for the 2011 Broadside “Red Blend” from “Printer’s Alley”.  The Printer’s Alley red blend was a nice wine – a little more plush, less funk/earth/dirt, and less mouth-watering acidity than the straight-cab (?maybe due to the 25% Merlot?), and as a result came across a little more “girl-next-door”, lacking the attention-getting characteristic of the straight-cab (which is more girl-next-door-with-a-small-tattoo … not to be confused with girl-next-door-with-a-tramp-stamp).  I think if I was throwing a party, I’d reach for the Printer’s Alley; but if I’m drinking alone (not that I endorse drinking alone), then I’d go for the Margarita cab for sure (which is why I now have 2 bottles in the cellar!)

Written by afterdinnersneeze

15 February 2014 at 12:35am

Posted in Happenings

Tagged with ,

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