Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Washington Cabernet v. Italy

Last week was the first European road race of the year.  This week is the first Italian road race of the year - G.P. Costa degli Etruschi.  This race is so Italian the race's official website is only available in Italian.  The race starts in the South near San Vincenzo and heads North tracing a route along the Western coast through the Tuscan wine region toward Livorno for a big circuit before heading South for several small circuits that pass by Bolgheri.

Following the race route this week's challenger comes from Bolgheri featuring a Cabernet Sauvignon dominated Super Tuscan Luchador Greppicante Bolgheri Rosso up against a Walla Walla Stunner from Amavi Cellars.

2008 Amavi Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon v. 2008 Greppicante Bolgheri Rosso

Tale of the Tape

2008 Amavi Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon

76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot, 5% Syrah and 3% Cabernet Franc

Grape sources: 45% Seven Hills, 41% Pepper Bridge, 8% Les Collines, 6% Goff all in the Walla Walla AVA

Aged in 30% new oak barrels of 88% French, 6% Hungarian, 6% American

Purchased from Full Pull Wines for $24.99

2008 Greppicante Bolgheri Rosso

Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc from the Bolgheri DOC in Tuscany.  Said to be a Cabernet Sauvignon dominanat blend, but the percentages are a mystery.

Aged for 10 months in oak barrels with an additional 3 months of bottle aging.

Purchased from Garagiste for $17.81.

Round 1.  First Opening

The Amavi Cab floats into the ring with a nose of light red berries some floral notes and hints of Cheerios.  The palate shows medium red berries with similar notes of oats and some cheerio tartness on finish.

The Bolgheri Rosso wastes no time.  Bringing the noise from the opening bell with a nose of dark currant, dusty earth and Asian cedar spices.  The palate backs up the bravado with currant, herbal tartness and a spicy tart finish that trails off with some nice cherry bark notes.

Bolgheri brings the pain punishing the Amavi cab with a series of bruising body shots to take the first round.

Round 2.  One hour after Opening

That first round was a wake up call and Amavi is answering the call of the alarm clock.  The nose has bulked up showing dark currant, black cherry and some smokey barnyard funk.  The palate is equally bold with dark currant and cola with dry tart cedar finish.

The Bolgheri is building more complexity into its attack with a nose of dark currants, leather, earth and menthol spices.  The palate also shows dark currants along with Asian spices that lead to a tingly tart pepper spiced finish.

This round was closer, but Bolgheri takes the points with an aggressive attack.  Amavi took some punishment but isn't backing down.

Round 3. One day later

Amavi is looking for an edge and an angle to land a knockout blow.  The nose is smokey and dark currants with some menthol and spices.  The palate is dark currant, cherry cola leading to a dry cherry bark finish.

Bolgheri is dropping bombs - look out below!  The nose has bold character of dark currant along with dusty, smokey cracked pepper.  The palate has notes of dark currant, black cherry cola and a tart finish.

The Amavi Cab showed big time character by not backing down from the onslaught of the brutish Bolgheri.  In the end, the Italian from Tuscany was too much to handle taking all three rounds of the match.

Wrap up and over all observations

These Luchadors were a close match in terms of make up even if the names indicated different weight classes with Washington Cabernet Sauvignon v. Italian Rosso.

The Washington Cabernet Sauvignon could just as easily have been called a Red Blend with Cab, Merlot, Syrah and Cab Franc coming together to create some fine character.

The Bolgheri Rosso was Cab, Merlot and Cab Franc.  These three grapes created a big and bad Luchador that dished out a massive amount of punishment.

I give the Bolhgeri an 88 and the Amavi an 87.


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