CABERNET SAUVIGNON. 1980 – DAVIS BYNUM
by Paul Kalemkiarian Sr | March 1984
Davis Bynum was a newspaperman. He was a four-pack a day, cigarette smoking newspaperman. Can you imagine that! He quit smoking, cold turkey, and went into the wine business. The San Francisco Chronicle lost their “This World” section writer in 1963. He went from one “press” to the other!
“I thoroughly enjoy all the facets of the grape growing and winemaking activities.” says Bynum, reflectively, “I don’t miss the newspaper business at all, but then, I didn’t enjoy every aspect of the newspaper business.” You can tell he enjoys wine making. It is reflected in the wines he produces. He was a home winemaker since college days. His talents were honed under the eye, or more aptly, the palate, of his father who served regularly as a wine judge at the California State fair, and who had authored a book on wine.
He started his first winery in Albany, CA in 1965. The operation there was not satisfactory, so he moved it to the present location in 1973. It is situated eight miles downriver from the city of Healdsberg, on the Russian River, in Sonoma County. The building that houses the winery has served three industries, at least. It was a hop plant, and later was a feeder house for the same owners who ran cattle. It is surrounded by 82 acres of vineyards.
The winemaker is Gary Farrell. “This area is easy to make wine in.” Farrell says. ‘Wines make themselves if good care is provided. We want to stress varietal character and de-emphasize wood.” That is what attracted me to their 1980 Cabernet Sauvignon. It was obviously a different style to the typical California cabernet (if such a generalization can be made).
The ancestral home of cabernet is Bordeaux. It is the best known red varietal grape in the world. Plantings exist in practically all the wine growing regions of the world. Basic varietal character comes through on most of the wines one runs across. Other than the traditional terms of “green olives” or “bell peppers”, I like Bob Thompson and Hugh Johnson’s (famous wine authorities) statement: Cabernet Sauvignon’s varietal character is likened to tea or herbs to leaves and stems rather than fruit or flowers. Of course, there is the matter of style that matters. That is the winemakers contribution and his pleasure. This Davis Bynum is of the lighter style. Not the overpowering bold style many California winemakers seem to gravitate towards. It is a claret style and reminds me of some Bordeaux wines.
Our wine is bright red in color. The aroma is a deep peppery cabernet varietal, with a developed bouquet from the cooperage. It has a flavorful, lively taste. Medium body, and well balanced. Very distinct varietal cabernet flavor. Some tannin at the finish along with some heat of the alcohol content (14.4%). I will label it the “easy cabernet”, with deep flavor of the variety. Serve at room temperature with lamb and beef roasts, steaks, and other meat dishes.
Cellaring Notes: Will age, mellow, and develop complexities for 5 to 8 years or more. Should be tracked.