The first tasting — Smooth vs. Bold wines
In the first post of this series, Beginner’s Wine Journal, I laid out my plan to go through the wine tastings in our Wine 101 series. This is my experience with our first tasting that highlights two of our Wine 101 styles: Smooth & Bold red wines.
My original plan was to do this tasting with a group of friends, but as we all know, it’s just hard to get people together sometimes. I pressed on and just decided to do it myself. Hopefully, I can rope some people into trying it later with me.
The Smooth and Bold wines
I bought both wines from Central Market on Lamar in Austin, and my goal was to spend less than $20 for each wine. One of the store’s buyers helped pick out wines that matched the styles of wine I wanted, so I could be sure to get some good choices. The Smooth wine was Stephen Vincent 2006 Crimson ($13), and the Bold wine was Edge 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon ($20). I spent a little more on the Bold wine because I specifically wanted to try something that had more going on than just oak. It’s a flavor that seems tired to me already.
Both wines are from California. The Vincent 2006 Crimson (smooth) is 75% Syrah and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from the Sonoma and Central Coast, crafted in the Rhone style. The Edge 2005 Cabernet (bold) is blended with a little Merlot and is made from all Napa Valley grapes. Edge Cabernet was voted the best Cabernet Sauvignon by under $20 by Food & Wine Magazine, October 2007.
As the name implies the Vincent 2006 Crimson (smooth) is a dark, deep crimson. The Edge 2005 Cabernet (bold) is a deeper, darker purply-red – almost inky. The Vincent 2006 Crimson (smooth) is medium bodied and definitely more transparent than the Edge 2005 Cabernet (bold). I can barely see my hand through the Edge 2005 Cabernet (bold), and it looks thick and viscous and is medium-full to full bodied.
In the nose
Having a sniff, the Vincent 2006 Crimson (smooth) smells of darker fruit — like dark cherry — and subtle vanilla and oak. The Edge 2005 (bold) is obviously more oaky, and it was aged for 16 months in American and French oak barrels (30% new). But it definitely is not over-the-top oaky, and it also smells of pepper and ripe, dark fruit. True to style, the Edge 2005 Cabernet (bold) has a more intense aroma than the Vincent 2006 Crimson (smooth).
The taste and finish
Swirling and sipping, the Vincent 2006 Crimson (smooth) tastes of dark fruit with very smooth tannins. It seems definitely to match the Rhone style Syrahs I’ve had, with more complexity and acid than the Australian versions. I think this wine would shine with food such as beef, lamb, or duck, but still could be enjoyed just by itself, if you like acidic wines. The Edge 2005 Cabernet (bold) tastes of fruit less ripe and dark than it smells, and the pepper carries through to the mouth. It is mildly tannic, but not at all un-enjoyable. Its finish is much longer than the Vincent 2006 Crimson (smooth), which seems to be a defining characteristic of Bold wines. I think the Edge 2005 Cabernet (bold) is probably better as a C&C wine than a food wine.
Overall thoughts on the tasting
This tasting has made me feel like I need to train my palate. It would be nice to have some aromas handy to compare the wines to – I think I will work on assembling an aroma kit from the grocery store. A more impatient beginning taster might want a pre-assembled aroma kit.
It’s hard to say which of these two wines I like more. Both were great for the money, and both I’d have again without thinking. As I said before, I’d probably choose the Vincent 2006 Crimson (smooth) for before or during dinner, and the Edge 2005 Cabernet (bold) for after dinner by the fire. Living in Texas, though, I don’t sit by the fire too often…
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