This Jack London Cabernet Sauvignon was included in the line up during my one-on-one tasting with Kenwood Vineyards winemaker Pat Henderson. Previous to this, I had only tasted the Jack London Zinfandel, which I had a mixed-review for. But this Cab — well, you’ll just have to read the review.

About the Wine: For a little book-nerd meets wine-nerd action learning all about the famous author, please do read my post on the Jack London Zinfandel as well as my article about Jack London’s historically preserved property.

The Kenwood Vineyards Jack London Cabernet Sauvignon is made from 99% Cabernet Sauvignon and 1% Syrah grapes from the Sonoma Mountain AVA. The particular area of the mountain where the vineyards are located — the Eastern side — keeps a steady, mild climate and is rich in volcanic soil.

Grapes were fermented in stainless steel, then aged in 75% French and 25% American oak barrels for 24 months.

From Pat: What makes the Jack London estate vineyards so unique? Well, as Pat says, there’s no more historic of a grape property in California. in the 1880s, way before London bought the Glen Ellen property, there was, in fact, a small thriving vineyard. But the land became barren and eventually abandoned. London, eager to own a piece of land, was able to get the estate on the cheap, and used sustainable farming techniques he learned overseas while in the military. And, so it was, that London became the first Californian sustainable farmer. (That’s the short version. You can read the long version here.)

Funnily enough, London never revived the vineyard portion of his property, so there wasn’t actually any wine produced from the estate until the 1970s. Fast forward to today, and Kenwood now partners to create their Jack London label Merlot, Zinfandel, and this Cabernet Sauvignon.

And the truth is that the Jack London Vineyards location is the ideal place to grow grapes. It’s situated high on the Eastern side of the Sonoma Mountain where it stays above the fog layer and gets no afternoon sun. So the grapes are never too hot and never too cold, but just right (Goldilocks, meet the big bad Jack London wolf).

Flavor Profile: (What big EYES you have…) Robust flavors burst as the wine flows from bottle to glass where you’ll see a thick, dark, inky liquid — not unlike congealed blood. Truly this is the drink of the wolf. (What a big NOSE you have…) You’re a fool if you can’t smell the grassy, earthy aromas dank with the night’s dew. It’s big, it’s bold, it’s intimidating.

(What big TEETH you have…) On the palate you’ll get a strong incense-like flavor. Cardamom, tumeric, along with a bit of perfume meld together with darker fruits like black cherries and plums. And all the while those tannins keep things full, thick, hearty. This is not just a drink, this is sustenance, lifeblood.

From Pat: Pat particularly enjoys how fruit-forward the mid-palate of this Cab actually is. But those fruit-flavors sit tightly amongst distinct notes of the area’s terroir. The Jack London Vineyards have a unique soil type in that it’s deep. You can dig for miles and miles and never find bedrock. And it’s that unique soil type that equates to that dank, damp earthiness you’ll find — on the eyes, the nose, and the palate.

Food Pairing: The spec sheet states that this wine would best pair with “hearty entrées, including roast beef and lamb.”

From Pat: Pat, at first, recommends a Tri-tip steak seasoned with a good dose of spice. He thinks a moment. “Then again, you could always go with a London broil.”

More Info: I received the Kenwood Vineyards Jack London Cabernet Sauvignon as a sample for my one-on-one tasting with winemaker Pat Henderson. For more information about the Jack London series or any of Kenwood Vineyards wines, please visit the Kenwood Vineyards website.

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