2009 BETIS Rioja and 2009 Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon

Wine Review: 2009 BETIS Rioja and 2009 Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon
2009 Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon & 2009 BETIS Rioja
Today's wine review is a two-for-one. My hubby and I enjoyed these two bottles side by side over two nights. It all started with a blind tasting...

I really enjoy tasting wines blind. I find that having no idea what's in the glass in front of me allows me to taste the wine without any preconceived notions. I am forced to evaluate what I see, smell and taste only. I also like the practice of deductive blind tasting, where you not only evaluate the wine, but try to identify what it is based on your observations. Blind tasting, and particularly deductive tasting, is a learned process. The more you try, the better you become, not only at identifying wine, but at describing what you see, smell and taste. I find the whole process fascinating and just good fun.

So yesterday, I told my husband to pick up two bottles of red wine on his way home, keep them covered, and pour me a glass of each so I could take my time, evaluate each, and make my guess as to the year, the country/region of origin, and the specific grapes/varietals/blends. He did as I asked and while I cooked dinner (just simple pasta with red sauce) he poured the wines and I got to tasting. It was great fun, and if you haven't tried tasting wines blind yourself, I highly recommend it.

The second night, the cat was already out of the bag, so we basically just enjoyed the remainders of the bottles and got to see how a day being open affected each. In general, it didn't improve either wine. Both had significantly less fruit on day two, although, I guess as is to be expected, the Cab did hold up a bit better. 

Let's start with the Rioja. Rioja is a region in Spain where they make wine primarily out of the tempranillo grape. I've had Riojas of varying quality, there is a lot of Rioja being made, and with it's popularity comes a lot of watered down muck. The good news is that even the very good ones won't cost you an arm and a leg. The BETIS Rioja was a wine I would consider both tasty, and a perfect daily drinker. The fruit was raspberry and red cherry, with a little vanilla on the nose and very soft wood tannins. At $15, it's a delicious wine for a very good price. There wasn't much complexity, but the wine was well balanced and would easily please a crowd if you were looking for a bottle of red to serve at a party.

If you do open a bottle though, make sure you finish it. On day two everything I liked about the wine was gone. I put the leftover wine in a ziplock in the freezer to use for cooking.

Next up, the 2009 Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon. I have a softness and fondness in my heart for California Cabernet, and Freemark Abbey gets additional points from me as a winery for having a quite a bit of history (including participation in the famous 1976 Judgement of Paris). At $30, this is a pretty straight forward and well made Napa Cab. The black fruit, currants and spice opened up to a little bit of tobacco and leather. The tannins were present, but quite velvety. Drinking well now, but would probably be lovely for a few more years. I don't think it's a wine worth holding onto, but by the same token, it's a wine I will happily try again next year to see how it fleshes out. A nice wine with more complexity than the Rioja, but for twice the price, not a daily drinker.

Labels: , , , , , ,