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The Perfect Holiday Wine

Don’t Listen to the Snobs, It’s Not Too Early to Drink This California Cab

BY // 11.12.17

What are you drinking this week? Sparkling? That’s always a great option, and you would be wise to have a bottle or two of Champagne, Cava, or Prosecco at the ready at all times. How about cidre? Definitely, and if you are not overly familiar with this wonderful drink, take some time to sample a few, because they can pair beautifully with food.

The world is a giant place, full of great options when it comes to beverages, so don’t get stuck in the same groove.

Having said that, however, there’s nothing wrong with a California Cab. Some of you will undoubtedly be enjoying a prime ribeye soon, and I have a great recommendation: the 2014 Gamble Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon would pair with it in a fine manner. Medium-rare steak, perhaps a side of whipped potatoes (cream and butter), and some sautéed turnip greens and garlic. Yes, this bottle needs to be there.

First opened, you might think, wait a minute, this is too young, I want to wait a few years. But it’s too late, the cork has been pulled, and it’s OK, trust me. Yes, I’m looking forward to tasting this vintage in 2021, but it already has a body and structure well worth your time. On the nose, I appreciated the tobacco and earth, which was backed with cherry and walnut. We poured this at around 62 degrees Fahrenheit; the color is a deep, dense, inky red (the vintage is 86 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, eight percent Malbec, four percent Cabernet Franc,  and one percent each Merlot and Petit Verdot).

The initial taste brought forth blackberry and graphite, an intriguing and satisfying combination. Clove and a touch of deep cherry followed, and the ribeye’s rich earthiness knew how to handle the flavors in the glass. As the wine breathed, it became more relaxed, expansive. The garlic in the greens took to it handily.

The 2014 vintage, which was released in June, was produced from grapes harvested between September 17 and October 11. Fruit from Oakville, and Clone 6 Calistoga Cabernet from the northern end of the valley, star here. The wine spent 20 months in French, Hungarian, and American oak, and 2,900 cases were produced. It retails for $50.

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Jim Close, the winemaker here, hails from England, and has been with the Gamble family since 2003. He began his career and France, in the Languedoc, after studying viticulture and enology in the United Kingdom. He’s built a record during his 13 years in California as a serious and exacting winemaker, and the offerings from Gamble demonstrate that.

As I wrote, this wine possesses a depth that will develop well, but it should be appreciated now, so get two bottles, cellar one, cook some steak over wood, and drink the second bottle with it. Turnip greens optional.

Drink this now, and then again in 2021.

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