The cabernet sauvignon grape commands respect for the intensity of color and flavor in its wines. Its fame leads many to assume the best cabernet sauvignon wines never contain any other grapes. However, cabernet sauvignon wines are more often blended than not, and this is the case for both mass-market value wines and pricey collectable bottlings. Part of the reason for this confusion is the widespread misconception that a wine labeled under a grape name, like cabernet sauvignon or chardonnay, guarantees that 100 percent of its contents are made from that grape. In reality, winemaking rules allow for varying degrees of wiggle room, depending on where a wine is made; for example, California wines need contain only 75 percent of the grape on the label. That doesn't mean the other grapes used are necessarily inferior; they are usually of equivalent quality, just of a different grape variety that can add some desirable traits to the final blend. This reliable cabernet sauvignon from Murphy Goode is a perfect example of how this works. Cabernet sauvignon makes up 82 percent of the recipe, providing the wine's power, density, and core of chocolatey, black cherry flavors, and 18 percent cabernet franc enlivens the final blend with a dash of acidity and herbal flavors reminiscent of pomegranate and thyme.
Murphy Goode cabernet sauvignon, $12.99 (regularly $15.99; sale price through Jan. 28). PLCB Item #8938.