Tag Archives: cabernet sauvignon

Famiglia Meschini Carmenere

Cost: Average price $14

Where buy now: Zipp’s Liquors, South Lyndale Liquors, Swirl My Wine, France 44, Apple Valley Liquor, Century Wines and Spirits, Tonka Bottle, The Wine Shop, Liquor Barrel Golden Valley, Richfield Liquor Store No. 1

Grapes: 90% Carmenere, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon

Region: Colchagua Valley, Chile

Vintage: 2010

Famiglia Meschini Carmenere adorned with dribbled wine stain

I waxed poetic about Famiglia Meschini’s Pinot Noir last week. Now, let’s get a little dirtier, wait, I mean “earthier” and drink some Carmenere. I first tried this wine at the now defunct Babalu Restaurant [now Bar La Grassa]. I really liked it. Since then, I haven’t been wowed by Carmenere. It always seemed to be too high in alcohol with harshly gritty spice. Would I ever find a good Carmenere for under $20 that didn’t taste of cheap vodka and mudpie?

The FM Carmenere hails from Colchagua Valley, about 500 ft above sea level, in the Central Valley. This valley is where most of the award winning Chilean wines are coming from. Vines grow in a mix of soil, sand and granite. The typical hot daylight temperatures are yielding full bodied reds such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Syrah and Carmenere.

I fell in love with this wine upon first sip. What makes this Carmenere stand out is the 10% Cabernet, which for my palate, balances the wine. It’s medium bodied with dark, smokey fruit flavors, followed by chocolate undertones and fresh cracked pepper- all of which scream “FALL WINE”! The tasting notes state the wine is aged in American oak that is 50% new and 50% used. The newer oak helps give wine that smoky, toasty flavor. If this is something you enjoy, start looking for labels that say “aged in new oak”. Clever.

I’m deeming this my Autumnal wine. (One cannot say that word enough, IMHO!) As the days continue to shorten and the cooler breezes start to invade, this wine will become your best friend. Grill up flank steak and make tacos- this Carmenere would pair beautifully.  Then, keep that fire stoked- s’mores with dark chocolate would be sooo stupid good with this wine. Or, simply pour a big ol’ glass, snuggle up in a blanket with your dog/cat/child/”Rabbit” (ahem), and sip as you watch the leaves gently fall to the ground. You know how I’ll be spending my Autumnal (yes!) weekends.

If you’re interested in sampling this wine (and other Savvy faves), you’re in luck! I’ll be at Zipp’s Liquors on Sat., Sept. 15 from 4-7pm. C’mon down to say hello (and/or “Autumnal”), and meet their wine buyer, Jeff. This is a great, easy-going environment to sip, sample and hang. Should you want to buy a bottle or two (or nine), you’re in luck: Zipp’s will have special sale prices during the tasting!

Famiglia Meschini Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva

Cost: Average price $14-$16

Where buy now: Byerly’s Ridgedale, Solo Vino, Sorella Wines & Spirits, South Lyndale Liquors, Swirl Wine Bar, Thomas Liquors & Zipp’s Liquors

Grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon

Region: Mendoza, Argentina

Vintage: 2008

Famiglia Meschini Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva

Sometimes all you need is a cheeseburger, fries and a Coke. What if I told you you could swap that Coca-Cola for a Cabernet?

This week’s pic is an homage to steak and cab, but in a good, down home kinda way. I was recently up in the Cloquet area, about two hours north on Hwy 35, and home to the “World’s only Frank Lloyd Wright designed gas station!” (Yawn) My in-laws live up there and many years ago, they introduced me to a hamburger joint that’s been around since 1960: Gordy’s Hi-Hat.

Gordy’s food is a real treat, and since it is only open Spring through Fall, it has become a righteous annual rite. The place doesn’t look like it’s been touched for decades, just the way I like it. Phenomenal hand-pattied burgers, crispy fries, amazing Wild Alaskan Cod fish sandwiches (don’t get me started about the malts and shakes!). When I go, I usually throw all caution to the wind and get a double cheeseburger w/ fried onions.

This trip, I only got a single. To go. Boy, that was stupid.

Since we ate a late brunch, it was time already to head back to “Da Cities”. But we HAD to make a stop at Gordy’s, so I got a cheeseburger to go. That puppy made it all the way back to town. As we were driving, I could smell nothing but the greasy goodness that was an all-beef patty, fried onions, cheese and melty condiments. You know what I smelled? I smelled America, folks, and it couldn’t have smelled any sweeter.

Once home, I raced to unpack the car. For the entire ride, I had one wine in mind to have with my delicious spoils. Famiglia Meschini Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva.

Why pair a smooth Cab with a greasy burger? Because it’s brilliant.

Years ago while on a business trip, I ate dinner at a hoity-toity Chicago steakhouse called Gibson’s. I dined with the president & CEO and a writer from the Boston Globe. I was really young and wanting to do the “right” thing. But on that night, I just didn’t crave steak tartare or a filet. I needed a cheeseburger and fries. So, that’s what I ordered. The Boston Globe writer said, “You know what, that sounds good,” and she had the same. Sometimes, right is just right. Nowadays, I typically choose to drink a Cab alongside a good burger. It’s nostalgic for me.

Oh yes, the wine. Silly me. I’ve waxed poetic about Famiglia Meschini in a previous review. http://www.thesavvylush.com/white-wine-of-the-week-|-white-wine-reviews/famiglia-meschini-premium-white-blend.htmlFamiglia Meschini

I just love that they are doing this as organic as possible. Making wines they like, importing and selling it all themselves. Again, this equals savings to you and me! The Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva is a triumph. Upon opening the bottle, scents of black cherry, oak and history come pouring out. This Cab isn’t super dense or thick, it’s just lovely. It has the usual characteristics of a Cab: bold, dark cherry fruit, slight oak presence and full bodied. And, at a price of around $13.99, it’s even more wonderful. If you’re a fan of Cab’s and enjoy the likes of J.Lohr or Liberty School, I implore you to give this one a try.

Red wine, red meat-damn son, let’s eat!

Cycles Gladiator

Cost: Average price $5-6

Where buy now: Around town

Grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon

Region: California

Vintage: 2010

Cycles Gladiator Cabernet Sauvignon

“Never judge a book by its cover,” they always say. Ain’t that the truth? I’m sure we’ve all seen some gorgeous beauty across the room, only to have it ruined when you hear him or her speak, leaving you recoiling in horror. The same holds true for just about everything in life, wine included. Exhibit A: Cycles Gladiator wine. Beautiful Art Nouveau label, flowery copy- surely, if they’ve invested time in creating such beautiful artwork to house their wine, it must be worth the $5 gamble.


My husband stopped at the municipal liquor store [aka “The Muni”] near us and picked this bottle out. When he came home with it, he was so excited for us to try it. Did he find the next great cheap-o red?

I should mention that I love my husband, but I do not love this wine. The biggest disappointment was seeing his zealous face slowly slump in disappointment. I wanted to lie, but alas, that wouldn’t be true to him, myself, nor to all of you.

To clarify, it’s not that I hated this wine- it just didn’t have much personality. I felt a bit duped. When I went to write this review, I initially referred to it as “table wine” (which was a stretch), because I completely forgot that this is technically a Cabernet Sauvignon! You should know when you are drinking a Cab: big, bold flavors of currant, spice and oak with great tannic structure- just begging you to go primal on a rare piece of steak. This Cab is like when you shake a person’s hand and their wrist goes limp, fingers hardly squeezing back. Lackluster. Boring. Meh.

Sad to say, Cycles Gladiator was all show and no go for this Lush. At around $5, I’m deeming this wine as the Skank bottle of the month. Buy it when you’re pert near hammered, and just need something more to take you that next level. Or better yet, just spend a dollar or two more and get something you’ll respect in the morning.