Looking for a Cab for Christmas? You’ve probably considered a Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa but what about one from Chile’s Maipo Valley? And what about pairing a Cab or two with a festive meal that’s easy on the eyes, the wallet, and the effort in the kitchen like this Cabernet Sauvignon Braised Pomegranate Pot Roast which we have a recipe for you below? And Kathy’s No Damn Mayo Waldorf goes great with these Cabernet too; recipe follows.
This month Linda Whipple of My Full Wine Glass challenges the Wine Pairing Weekend crew of wine writers to do a Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon “face-off.” Since each October for many years now we’re participated in #MerlotMe as well as Merlot Day, we’ve written A LOT about Merlot (see below). So then we thought about comparing left and right bank Bordeaux wines from France and then compare those with left and right back style wines from California. But in reviewing my cellar, I realized we had quite a collection of both California Cabernet and Chilean ones, so we thought it would be fun to set up a comparison.
We toyed with different ways to taste through the wines, and finally settled on going by vintage, setting up a pair of wines from each valley, and moving from more fruit to more structure, and from Napa to Chile, starting out with 2017s from Flora Springs and Pimus, then 2018s from Smith-Madrone and Miguel Torres, and finally a pair of older wines– a 2014 from Chile’s Don Melchor and a 2016 from Napa’s Charles Krug.
- Cheeseboard: Syrah soaked Toscana, triple cream brie, cheddar with cranberries, pate, salami, manchego
- Pomegranate Pear Gogonzola Walnut Salad (recipe below)
- Roasted Garlic Balsamic Brussel Sprouts
- Pomegrante Cabernet Stemple Creek Sustainable Chuck Roast on Mashed Potatoes (recipe below)
WINES: Cabernet Sauvignon from Maipo and Napa
- 2018 Smith-Madrone Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley, Spring Mountain District
- 2018 Migeul Torres Cordillera de los Andes Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva Especial, Maipo
- 2017 Flora Springs Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
- 2017 Primus Organic Cabernet Sauvignon, Maipo, Chile
- 2016 Charles Krug Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
- 2014 Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon, Puente Alta Vineyard, Maipo
For more Cabernet Sauvignon coverage check out these:
- Read about 4 California Cabernet Sauvignon from 4 very different regions for Cab Sauv Day here.
- Read about Don Melchor and other Concha y Toro Cabs for Cabernet Sauvignon Day.
- Read more about 4 Chilean Cabs here paired with blue cheese burgers..
For more Merlot, try these:
- Merlot with smoked lamb beef meatloaf
- Merlot from Women Winemakers with a winter squash menu
- Merlot paired with instant pot bacon mushroom chicken
- Merlot vertical from Duckhorn with pomegranate rosemary braised lamb shanks
2017 Flora Springs Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon
Narrative: Flora Springs also does bottlings with special labels for the winter holidays and Halloween which we’ve written about here and here. We also wrote about Flora Springs in general here.
Appearance: Pretty dense, ruby, raspberry rim.
Aroma: Cherry blossom, cherry, carnation, menthol, spearmint, caraway,
Palate: This is a delicious wine, raspberry, fresh cherry, bright fresh fruit, nice acidity, very smooth without lying down dead, soft tannins.
Pairing: Loves the spices in the pate! Add a pie of brie on top and experience a wonderful explosion of flavors, fruit and spices. Absolutely perfect with the cranberry stilton which enhances the fruit in the wine. Fine with the Brussels sprouts, but fabulous juicy deliciousness with the chuck roast. The accidental few pomegranates that mix in with the potatoes are a lovely surprise. The pear was perfectly ripe in the salad. The flavor and the texture of the pear contrast nicely with the cherry fruit in the wine.
2017 Primus Organic Cabernet Sauvignon, Maipo, Chile
Grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon
Importer: Gonzalez Byas. U.S.A.
Narrative: The name Primus stems from Latin for “the first” or “the first among its peers.” Handpicked from organically farmed vineyards in the top regions of Chile, Primus was founded more than 20 years ago and the first to blend Cabernet and Carmenere from DO Apalta, where the Andes and Coastal mountains meet. Alto Maipo, the first vineyard to be planted in Chile in 1541 and considered to produce the best Cabernet Sauvignon in the country is the source of Primus Cabernet Sauvignon.
Appearance: Dense, Ruby, garnet rim,
Aroma: Dried rose petals, potpourri, creekside mud, dried cherry,
Palate: This is not a fruit forward wine, dried cherries, dried cranberries, graphite, grippy mouthfeel, it is a bit unbalanced, the flavor is mid palate and there is not as much on the outside of the palate, dried fruit is present on the finish.
Pairing: Absolutely lovely with the cranberry stilton. The spicy salami melts in your mouth and the wine loves the rich spices. Great with the dry pecorino. This would be a very nice pizza wine. It is very verstitile. This wine worked very nicely with our salad loving the fresh juicy pears and the salty creamy gorgonzola. The wine really enjoys the char in the Brussels sprouts. The wine with the roast dish was not bad but not great. It Neds char and caramelization making this the perfect BBQ wine. The Flora Springs was by far the best with our chocolate olive oil cake.
2018 Smith-Madrone Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley, Spring Mountain District
Grapes: 86.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Merlot, 7.5% Cabernet Franc
You can really taste the Cab Franc!
Narrative: In 2020, I interviewed Stu Smith here about gratitude after a harrowing harvest fire.
Appearance: Dense, Ruby, dusty rose rim
Aroma: The smell at night after it rains, herbal, pine, bell pepper, underlying cherry, the fruit is not the star, ponderosa pine, very inviting nose.
Palate: Cherry, tart cherry, strong tannins, a very structured wine, cherry tobacco, herbal, cinnamon stick on the finish. This wine is tasty now but could lay down for a bit more. All of the structure and tannins in the wine yearns for food. You might want to decant this wine before serving. There is a Cab Franc herbal note in this wine.
Pairing: I wanted salami and sharp cheddar cheese, yet brie and pate are lovely with the wine. The Toscano became dry and uninteresting, so don’t go there! It likes the cranberry stilton so much better. The brie and the pate on a warm baguette are just perfect with the wine. Sue said she could eat that as a meal with the wine. The pot roast is heavenly wine. It loves the herbal elements and complexity of the pot roast meal. Fantastic with the Brussels sprouts, the caramelized char on the sprouts marry perfectly with the wine. So yummy with the salad loving the sweet fruit and salty blue cheese. The chocolate olive oil cake was a bit too sweet with many of the wines tonight, however it worked nicely with this wine. The herbal qualities enhances the dish together. There was no icky contrast between the sweet dessert and the wine. The right amount of sweet and salt in the dessert works nicely with the wine.
2018 Migeul Torres Cordillera de los Andes Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva Especial, Maipo
Grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon
Importer: Vineyard Brands
Narrative: This wine at this price is able to stand up to any high dollar Napa Cab. This was clearly Sue’s #2 choice. For the price and the quality this wine stood up so well to our meal and was so very impressive.
Appearance: Very deep and dense, ruby/maroon and a garnet rim, long stand out legs on the glass.
Aroma: Nicely herbaceous, cherry, chamomile, red current, very unique nose, it is very interesting with elements that we cannot put our fingers on and keeps us returning our nose and contemplating this intriguing wine. Graphite, tar, cocoa nibs, cherry pipe tobacco
Palate: This is a great wine, elegant, complex, fascinating on the palate, very difficult to reduce the wine to tasting notes. Very structured, cherry, cherry tobacco, leather, acidic with smooth tannins, it is all about the structure of this wine. Delicious because it can be enjoyed on its own, but will do fabulous with food.
Pairing: the wine is a bit gummy with the brie, loves the pate, great with the cranberry stilton, lovely with manchego, and the creamy Toscano. Very nice with the spicy salami. “I really like this wine with the salad” food. he bitter walnuts bring out beautiful fruit in the wine. Yummo! with the Brussels sprouts. this is the secret to pairing with red wines is the caramelization. The toasted oak barrels give richness to the roasted caramelized. The main dish is a star with the wine. It loves the herbal aspects of the meal, and the richness of the meal bring out a very nice richness in the wine. There is an unexpected complexity that happens between this rich meal and the wine.
2016 Charles Krug Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
Grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon
Appearance: Very dense, you cannot see through the glass at all, Santa Rosa plum with the bright edges
Aroma: For the amount of alcohol in this wine it is not pleasant on the nose, potpourri, rose petals, cherry, cherry tobacco, carnations,
Palate: Very nice wine, structured, smooth, cherry, cherry tobacco, oak is present on the palate but it is integrated nicely, rose water, black current tea, this is an easy sipping wine and should be complementary and easy to sip throughout a meal.
Pairing: The fruit becomes very fruity with the spicy sausage, very nice with the pate, great with the cranberry stilton both are so fruity together, the wine makes the triple cream brie melt in your mouth. For Kathy this was the wine of the evening and she did not want to change back and forth between the other wines, so this was her wine on the evening. However she felt it was better before the meal. She felt this was the crowd pleaser. The wine cleans up the richness of this heavy meal. It responds nicely to the fresh rosemary in the beef, loves the creamy richness in the potatoes. This wine is very sweet and fruit forward in the glass with the meal.
2014 Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon, Puente Alta Vineyard, Maipo
SRP: $125; current vintage 2020 SRP $150 (which we will be writing about soon!)
Grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon
Importer: Concha y Toro
Narrative: This is the best of the best of the best that Chile has to offer. Both Sue and I agreed that this was the wine of the evening. There was a magic there, and that’s what the winemaker is going for.
Appearance: Very dense, ruby with a garnet, it is holding up its color nicely
Aroma: Cherry, cherry tobacco, forest floor, duff, violets, baking spices, very intriguing nose with nice richness which keeps bringing your nose back to the glass to experience the new nuances the wine has to offer.
Palate: Oh this wine is yummy, there are layers of flavor, fruit and structure, smooth and elegant, this is what a beautiful Cabernet should taste like. Bright cherry fruit, richness without being too heavy, soil without it being dirty, rich ripe fruit, like in the story goldilocks, it is just right.
Pairing: Fantastic with the pate, the spices marry nicely with the wine. It loves the rich flavors and spices. Great with the salami loving the spicy pepper. Also quite nice with our cranberry stilton. It loves the rich complex flavors. Cleansing the palate with a piece of sourdough brings out the fruit in the wine. Great with the gorgonzola and walnuts in the salad. The aujus of the road meat is very rich in rosemary with is complemented nicely by the wine. The richness and complexity and all of the flavors of the meal stands up to it and is elevated in oh so many ways. The food and wine together brings out spice. spice and fruit. great with the rich roasted Brussels sprouts.
Kathy’s “Forget the Damn Mayo” Waldorf Salad
This is so good! Here are the ingredients AND the directions because it is that simple! On a bed of butter lettuce that has been tossed in lime juice, combine then add the following:
- 1/4 cup crumbled gorgonzola
- apples: 1 Granny Smith apple, and 1 sweeter like a gala or honey crisp apple
- pears: 1-2 depending on size and how many people you’re feeding
- celery: 1-2 ribs, sliced very small
- 1/4 cup walnuts (preferably toasted)
- forget the damn mayonaise; use just enough vanilla yogurt to coat the fruit a little bit
- to garnish, sprinkle 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds for color and crunch
Pomegranate Cabernet Braised Instant Pot Holiday Roast
You know how you see these big chunks of meat aka various roasts like chuck and (???) at the store and wonder what to do with them? WONDER NO MORE! This dish is so festive, fun, and fabulous! `Plus you can prepare this in your instant pat and then hang with your friends and enjoy wine while it cooks! Adapted from this recipe.
- 1 tbsp organic extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp salt, plus more to taste
- 1/4 tsp organic black pepper
- 2-3 lb organic beef chuck roast (we used 2.5 from sustainable Stemple Creek Ranch)
- 4 organic carrots, peeled, chopped
- 4 organic celery ribs, cleaned, chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped organic shallot
- 1 organic pomegranate: separate unto 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds plus 1/4 cup for garnish
- 4 large organic garlic cloves, peeled, smashed
- 1/4 cup organic balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbsp organic tomato paste
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce (organic? I wish! I’ve never seen it!)
- 1 cup organic Cabernet Sauvignon (we used organic Primus)
- 2 cups low-sodium organic beef stock
- 2 fresh organic bay leaves
- 1 sprig of fresh organic rosemary (I grow it)
- 1 sprig of fresh organic thyme (Sue grows it)
- Season the organic beef with salt and pepper on all sides.
- Sear the beef roast in the Instant Pot for approximately 5 minutes on each side until deeply browned.
- Remove meat from pan. Set aside.
- Reduce the heat to medium. Add the veggies, pomegranate seeds, garlic and sauté for 3 minutes, scraping occasionally.
- Add tomato paste and cook down for 3-4 minutes.
- Add the balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire, and wine to the Instant Pot; mix.
- Add beef stock and simmer over medium/high heat.
- Return the beef to the pot. add in the fresh herbs. Cover with lid.
- Cook manual 60 minutes. Natural release 20 min.
- Allow the roast to rest for 10 minutes.
- Serving with the pan sauce poured over the top on a bed of mashed potatoes.
For more ideas about Cabernet and merlot pairings check out:
- Culinary Cam has “Broadside + Brisket (then the Runner-Up with Revamped Leftovers)”
- Cooking Chat is talking about “Cabernet Sauvignon Wine Pairing Tips and Recent Highlights”
- My Full Wine Glass insists “For veggies, my vote is Merlot over Cab”
Check out the twitter chat where we’re talking Merlot vs. Cabernet Sauvignon at 8 am PT/11 am ET. Join us and cast your vote by searching for the hashtag #winePW.
- 11:00 am ET Welcome to the #winePW chat on Merlot vs. Cabernet Sauvignon. Introduce yourself and tell us where you’re from. Share a link to your blog if you’d like.
- 11:07 am ET Q1 We’re talking about Merlot vs. Cabernet Sauvignon today. What are the characteristics you enjoy in these two varieties? Do you prefer one over the other, a single-varietal or a blend? #winePW
- 11:15 am ET Q2 What Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon did you pick for today or would you recommend to others? Why did you choose this wine? #winePW
- 11:22 a.m. ET Q3 Tell us about the region or producer of the Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon you chose for today. #winePW
- 11:30 a.m. ET Q4 How does food affect your choice of Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon, or does it? #winePW
- 11:37 am ET Q5 What food did you pair with the wine? How did the pairing turn out? Would you do it again? Share a pic or link to your blog. #winePW
- 11:45 am ET Q6 What other foods would you choose for either Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon? Are there foods that pair well with either choice? #winePW
- 11:52 am ET Q7 This is our last Wine Pairing Weekend of 2022. Tell us about a pairing that worked particularly well for you this past year. Why did you choose this pairing? #winePW
- 11:57 am ET Any final thoughts about Merlot vs. Cabernet Sauvignon? #winePW
- 12:00 pm ET Thanks to everyone joining the chat today. Happy holidays! #winePW
Was thinking, “Man, those Chilean Cabs are a bargain,” and then I got to the Don Melchor. Sounds like it’s worth it, though!
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Well the Don Melchor is a bargain also if you’re looking at very high end special occasion wines or wines to cellar and invest in!