Reviewer’s Note: Samples of the wines discussed here were provided to me for reviewing purposes at no cost.
FlavorfulWorld had the honor of receiving a quartet of visitors from the West Coast some days ago. Cannonball Wine Company, based in Healdsburg, California, sent over one bottle each of its California Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, its Sonoma County Merlot 2014, its Sonoma County Chardonnay 2014, and its Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc 2015. This is the story of our acquaintanceship.
Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc 2015
This pale straw-hued dry white introduces itself with an effusive citrus bouquet full of lemongrass, lemon zest, and a touch of juicy grapefruit. Its aromatics grow more verdant near the top rim of the glass, calling up essences of lime leaves and green apple. To the palate, it delivers fresh wedges of orange and grapefruit and Meyer lemon alongside herbaceous lemongrass and less pronounced essences of ripening gooseberry. Marked, pleasing acidity hones these flavor components, allowing each one to shine even as they coalesce to form an expressive, citrus-tart sip that embodies a sense of playful boldness and a finish that lingers like the memory of an old flame. This is the wine that shares unsolicited vacation photos with you while standing in line at the grocery store and gets your number before you leave. It dances well with ceviche, seared scallops, citrus-glazed chicken and fish dishes, or, given its flavor palette that is led more by fruit than minerality, Thai cuisine.
Sonoma County Chardonnay 2014
The aromatics of this dry, pale gold pour recalls a basket of peach blossoms and fresh cut pineapple, with a slice of passionfruit hidden amidst the arrangement. Quieter suggestions of smoky butter murmur just beneath these notes, present but faint, summoning portraits of grilled corn coming off the coals with a slight char. The tropical fruit-inspired elements grow more pronounced on the tongue, with pineapple taking point in a medium-full-bodied pour. The buttery element endures as well, bringing with it just enough oak to accentuate the creaminess of butter without imparting overt woodiness. This mélange of flavors is supported by a welcome kiss of minerality and enough acidity to help the wine skillfully negotiate the familiar tightrope between mild, refreshing fruit and cloying sweetness. Together these two attributes straighten the back and square the shoulders of this wine, bringing all of its flavors into harmony. Add to this a flavorful finish that seemed to go on for days, and the result is a nice dry white with faint whiffs of smoke and butter that make it a great match for grilled poultry or seafood, cold pasta salads, chilled shellfish dishes, or ceviche.
Sonoma County Merlot 2014
A shy bouquet and rich garnet-color accounted for initial impressions of this dry red. A swirl of the glass awakened a sleeping perfume of strawberries, cherries, and red currant, with echoes of dill and earth at the upper rim. This merlot rocks a medium-full body because real wines have curves, and in the glass these take the form of tannins that feel sanded and polished. Its flavor profile is dominated by the same red fruits carried in its nose, accompanied by shades of blackberry and pomegranate. Characterized by medium-low acidity and medium-high alcohol level that lend spring to its step as it marches across the tongue, this wine’s fruit-forward character and light tannins make for a dry red that is welcoming and easy to drink. Its finish is middling in length, but flavorful enough, calling back to the cherries and berries that first greet the drinker. It begs to be enjoyed with roasted chicken, pork, and game birds, cooked mushroom dishes, and braised or slow-cooked red meats.
California Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Dark ruby richness with brooding, emphatic aromas mark this dry red wine. It smells of incense and cherry pipe smoke spicing the air inside a dark, members-only subterranean hideaway furnished with new leather. It smells of crackling alder wood bonfires surrounded by bushels of freshly-harvested blackberries and black currants and simmering kettles of Lapsang Souchong tea. A brawny, zaftig wine with tannins that grapple like their lives depend on it, its fruity elements runs hand-in-hand with the smokiness lending it structure and exotic complexity. This is the kind of wine that gets more expressive the more one drinks of it, so hushed whispers of oak and plum and chocolate await a patient palate. This wine could well be the better half of any meal that begins with wild game steaks, burgers, or other grilled and roasted red meats, charcuterie, stews and tomato-rich pasta dishes, or even spicy fare like Indian or Thai food.
Learn more about these and other Cannonball Wines at http://www.drinkcannonball.com/.
This article first appeared on FlavorfulWorld.com
[Top image: Anthony Beal / FlavorfulWorld.com]