Domestic Selection: Cabernet Sauvignon, 1985. Jekel

This month’s domestic selec­tion has to be the bargain of the century! This is Limited Series wine that we can all enjoy.

The Jekel Vineyard was origi­nally planted in 1972, the year WOMC was founded, so it is, like us, no new-comer to the industry. Back then winemaker Bill Jekel, with his twin brother, Gus, plant­ed 140 acres in Monterey County. Another 190 acres was added in 1983, the same year in which Eng­lish judges awarded top honors to one of Jekel’s Cabernets, against some of Bordeaux’s finest, in an internationally publicized London tasting.

One of the key factors in the quality of Jekel wines is their “mi­cro-climate”. Marine winds from Monterey Bay dominate the sum­mer making it one of the coolest regions in California in which pre­mium wine grapes will ripen to full maturity. Harvest here is extended 2 to 4 weeks beyond other premi­um growing districts. This slow maturation allows the grapes to de­velop complex flavors while re­taining high natural fruit acids. Re­sultant wines exhibit well-defined varietal character in a fine balance of fruit and acidity.

Many tasters consider Caber­net Sauvignon “The King of Va­rietals.” There is due reason for such an regal accolade. First, it is the primary grape of Bordeaux, the most famous region in the world for production of expensive, collectable vintage wines. This grape, when carefully grown and vinified, yields wines that are subt­ly complex and balanced, retaining a fresh and forest-like character of woods in spring, even when very old. It produces the finest red wines in California. Jekel en­hanced the complexity of this wine by adding 5% Cabernet Franc, another classic Bordeaux grape, noted both for its lightness and herbaceously aromatic charms.

Our selection offers an extraor­dinarily inky-dark, ox-blood color, accurately foreshadowing what is to come. Deep currant, blackberry’ and wild forest scents (mush­rooms, earth and wood) exude from the glass. It is marvelously big and rich in the mouth. Appetiz­ing acids in textbook balance with gobs of fruit (classic blackcurrant predominates) are all underlaced with the correct amount of tannin. The finish is smooth and dry with blackberry and a hint of violet in the aftertaste.

Serve at room tem­perature with roast beef or lamb; or barbequed steak.

Cellaring Notes: Drink now and through 1992.

Reviewed by Larry Tepper

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