I wrote up the Varner Winery's wonderful unoaked entry level Foxglove Chardonnay a couple of years ago in part because of an encounter with a customer over the 2010. I was moonlighting at my local discount store when this customer asked if there any '09 Foxglove Chards left. The '09 had been given a 90 point score by Robert Parker but the '10s were the current vintage. The '10s were were just as good as the 09's, they just hadn't been reviewed yet. No matter how hard I tried to convince this guy that the '10s were delish, he wouldn't bite. It's laughable. Do you really need to buy by the numbers when we're talking about a $15 wine? Plus you have to have some trust that a good producer like Varner is going to produce a quality wine every year, especially in California where extreme vintage variation is rare.
Well when I scored some local grass fed short ribs of beef from our friends the Hubners at Beechtree Farm, I went looking for a everyday Cabernet Sauvignon to pair with them. Cali Cabs in the 7-15 dollar range can often have very little in the way of classic Cabernet flavor. They are often overly soft fruit bombs that taste more like Zinfandel than Cab. Sometimes the Cabernet characteristics are lost because of too much hang time in the vineyard or too much wood in the cellar. When I spied the Foxglove on the shelf for $12.99 I figured it was time to revisit the Varner Winery's entry level offerings.
The Paso Robles AVA is a fairly southern viticultural zone only about 3 hours north of Los Angeles. Vineyards range in altitude from 700 to 2400 ft. and temperatures can get pretty high in the summer, though some areas benefit from cooling ocean breezes at night that slow ripening. The Foxglove Cabernet comes in at very balanced 13.7% alcohol and has all the aromas and flavors you expect from quality cab. It's produced with 94% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Petit Verdot and 2% Cabernet Franc. The nose has lots of black raspberry and plummy fruit with typical Cabernet supporting notes of cedar, graphite and herbs. It's fairly full bodied and juicy in the mouth with bold fruit, brown spices and lingering graphite notes. It finishes long and lightly tannic. This beauty is an excellent value and it stood up to the short ribs easily for a wonderful Saturday night meal.