Cab & Chocolate for Valentine’s Day?

TOP PICK

Louis M. Martini

Louis M. Martini, 2015 Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon, 13.5%, $20. ★★★★

An approachable cab with Old World charm It has aromas and flavors of blackberry, anise and mocha. The full-bodied cab has good bones –– structure –– with firm tannins and a nice length. A steal for the quality. Well crafted. Pairs exceedingly well with bittersweet chocolate.

Tasty ALTERNATIVES

Trig Point , 2015 Diamond Point Vineyard, Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, 14.5%, $22. ★★★★1/2: A complex cab with layered notes –– blackberry, cherry, espresso and tobacco. It has supple tannins and a lingering finish. Impressive.

Edna Valley, 2015 Central Coast Cabernet Sauvignon, 13.9%, $17. ★★★1/2: This is a balanced cab with bright acidity buoying its rich flavors. Weighted to black fruit, it also has cocoa, leather and a kiss of vanilla in the mix. Pretty.

Justin, 2015 Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon, 14.5%, $25. ★★★★: This is a savory cab with dried herbs at the forefront, while cherry and black fruit play back up. What melds it together is a hint of caramel. Striking.

Kendall-Jackson Grand Reserve, 2014 Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon, 13.5%, $28. ★★★1/2: An approachable cab with concentrated black fruit, toasty oak and mocha. Nice length. Smart.

Michael Eddy said he picked the right craft because he’s fascinated by wine and considers it an “endless puzzle.”

The winemaker is behind our wine-of-the week winner –– the Louis M. Martini, 2015 Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon at $20.

This cab has Old World charm, and it’s a great Valentine’s Day pick because it pairs exceedingly well with bittersweet chocolate. It has aromas and flavors of blackberry, anise and mocha. The full-bodied wine has good bones with firm tannins and a nice length. It’s well-crafted –– a steal for the quality.

Eddy said the house style he’s shooting for is a cab that has both great structure and concentrated fruit.

“If there is a spectrum that goes from Old World’s traditional style to what people think of as modern California’s big, generous style, we’re in the middle,” he said. “I really believe Martini is traditional California with the backbone and presence but still has a generosity of fruit.”

What makes this wine a standout is that the grapes were groomed in the vineyard well before they entered the cellar.

“This wine is reflection of how good Sonoma County vineyards can be for cabernet and this wine really benefitted from our being here for decades,” Eddy said. “We know Sonoma County well and have built relationships with outstanding growers and vineyards. What makes this wine special is what makes many wines special — the work done in the vineyards and we’re able to take advantage of that.”

Eddy, 45, is Director of North Coast Winemaking, joining the winery in 2005. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in biology from Humboldt State University and a Master’s degree in food science specializing in oenology at UC Davis. His credits include jobs at Napa Valley’s Trefethen Family Vineyards, Beaulieu Vineyard and Sonoma County’s Rodney Strong Vineyards.

The winemaker, who doubles as a foodie, was initially drawn to wine because of a cookbook.

“I was intrigued by the idea of wine when I was around 11 years old when I had my first cookbook,” Eddy said. “It was the Frugal Gourmet Cooks with Wine and there was an appendix that had a little wine primer. I didn’t know anything about wine and I’d never tasted it, but the complexity and the regions it came from just seemed so interesting and exciting.”

Eddy finds cabernet particularly intriguing.

“Cabernet can be a bold and intensely flavored wine, and it can be subtle and elegant, and it can be endlessly fascinating. There is something about its flavors and its depth that speaks to people like few other wines do.”

Wine writer Peg Melnik can be reached at 707-521-5310 or peg.melnik@pressdemocrat.com.

Joe Matos Cheese Factory

3669 Llano Road

Santa Rosa

Open daily to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

707-584-5283

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