Wow! This was my initial reaction to this wine, the Genesis Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 ($15). You see, I am very leery of red wines at this sort of price as the ones I actually enjoy are few and far between. Combine this with the fact that it is made by Hogue Cellars, a large-scale producer of reliable if unexciting wines and which in turn is owned by the even larger Constellation Brands (STZ), and my expectations weren't exactly high. But what I found couldn't have surprised and delighted me more. First of all, if I had tasted this blind—I don't mean blind drunk; that is the term used when one drinks a wine without knowing who grew it—I would never have guessed it was an American cabernet sauvignon, so full of life and vigor is it. It just glows with zesty fruit nicely held together with a fine structure of round tannins. As such it's a fine example of what's so exciting about Washington State's dynamic young wine industry. It falls halfway between France and California in terms of style, taking the best of each while managing to avoid their defects. So you have California's lush ripe fruit without the all-too-common stewed-fruit jamminess, along with Bordeaux's firm structure without the watery acidity and harsh tannins that are common in many of the French versions at this price. The Genesis also manages just the right balance between oak and spice, leaving you with that luxurious sense of indulgence good cab can give, rather like lying between the finest Frette sheets as you sip it. As if this wasn't enough, after it had been open an hour it began to show even more; dark chocolate, mushrooms, and even hints of an oriental spice bazaar began to emerge. And all this for $15. When to Drink: Now
Food Pairing: Red meats, pasta with red sauces, game, hard cheeses
Grapes: 100% cabernet sauvignon
Appellation: Columbia Valley
Region: Washington State
Web Site: www.hoguecellars.com See more wines at www.nickonwine.com.
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Nick Passmore is an independent wine writer and consultant based in New York. For five years he contributed a widely read monthly wine column to Forbes.com, in addition to which his work has appeared in such publications as Forbes, Discover, Town & Country, the Robb Report, Wine Enthusiast, Saveur, Sky, and Golf Connoisseur. He is currently artisanal editor for Four Seasons magazine and contributes a twice monthly column to BusinessWeek.com. He is also a judge at the annual Critics’ Challenge wine competition.