Weekday Wines…

2020 Château Fontanes ‘Les Traverses de Fontanes’ Pays d’Oc

Cabernet Sauvignon

Languedoc-Roussillon, France

Regular price: $20 per bottle

Sale price: $16 per bottle

When is a Cabernet Sauvignon not like a Cabernet Sauvignon?

Those in the know would have you believe that all Cabernet Sauvignon tastes like all other Cabernet Sauvignon. They suggest that the thick, dense, jammy, oaky, tannic, chocolate and vanilla aspects of the wine are typical of the grape and all versions of it are, more or less, equivalent versions of itself.

What if they are wrong?

Well, of course, it doesn’t really matter all that much. Afterall, we’re talking about wine here, not world peace. But, if they’re (they being alleged wine experts) wrong about this, what else are they wrong about? As it turns out, uh, nearly everything.

Sure, the same grape in different wines provides some similar markers. But it’s really not just the grape; it's the grape + the place + the process that makes the wine whole. And to ignore the place and the process, the how and where of winemaking, is to severely limit the incredible breadth of the wine world. 

It could be, however, that I’m being too harsh. Perhaps in an attempt to make wines more easily understandable, wine writers use the characteristics of the grape as a roadmap to the outcome, the wine itself. But if we liken the grape to another fruit, say, the tomato, we find that different outcomes are both possible and understandable. We accept that tomato sauce, juice and ketchup (or catsup) are all made from tomatoes, but have differing textures and uses and even flavors. We pretty much accept that premise; is it really so impossible to accept a similar premise in wine?

As to this wine, it's made of 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from the sunny vineyards of southwestern France. Lithe rather than muscular, bright and fresh, rather than ponderous, this unoaked wine is a perfect summer red, delivering simple pleasure to an overheated audience. Don’t be afraid to chill this wine either, you’ll like it even more. (PW)

Insider’s tip

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