OK, it was inevitable that this column would spill over (sorry) …
Here was the challenge: Find an affordable case of wine as a business gift for a colleague of my husband’s who was reported (surreptitiously by her husband) to like “Big Bad Cabs.”
Here was the solution (if, like me, you like wine but don’t actually know anything about it): Pay a visit to the Hudson Valley Wine Market in Gardiner. Owner Perry Goldschein brightened immediately, turned to the shelf and handed me what he declared to be, “the biggest, baddest cab in the shop.”
This was The Crusher, a California Cabernet Sauvignon by Wilson Vineyard. I decided, self-servingly, that if I was going to do this thing I was going to do it right and asked Perry to recommend two additional cabs; a home taste-test was definitely in order. So, on a recent Friday evening, my husband and I sat down with The Crusher ($13.95), another cab from 14 Hands Vineyards in Washington State ($13.95) and, just for variety, Tormaresca Neprica, an Italian blend of Cabernet and two other grapes ($11.95). We also invited a friend who actually does know something about wine!
The verdict was unanimous. We were all immediately impressed with our first (and second, and third) sip of The Crusher. It’s big. It’s bold. It announces itself with every sip. My husband, who prefers beer, made what I considered to be unhelpful comments about how he detected pleasant undertones of hay and barnyard. While I was rolling my eyes at him our wine-educated friend said he found it to have strong undercurrents of cherry bubble gum. I stopped rolling my eyes at my husband. In any case, it was declared to be in a league of its own—very drinkable now but would cellar well for a few years declared our friend.
We all found the 14 Hands cab to be light, and extremely smooth and mellow—too much so for each of us. It did not call us back for more.
The big surprise of the evening was the Tormaresca. Though it did not, at first, pack as big a punch as the Crusher, we all agreed that as we moved into dinner, the Tormaresca worked best with food. “Soft tannins, ripe fruit, hints of cherry and raspberry and ready to drink now,” said our friend.
All around it was a win-win. We bought a case of The Crusher for the colleague, and she was thrilled. And, for the first time in my life, I bought myself a case of wine; Tormaresca is definitely my new favorite.