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Wine Review: Louis M. Martini specializes in cab sav

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We are currently in the age of specialization, a time when everybody is seeking that special niche in which they can comfortably fill or fit.

It appears the Louis M. Martini Winery has not only found its niche but has been honing it since 1933. Rather than growing grapes and making wine from a plethora of varieties, as is the current California custom, the powers that be at Martini took a tunnel vision view of the available grape possibilities and concentrated on one and only one variety, the cabernet sauvignon.
To some, this may seem a silly thing to do considering that cab sav is the most popular red wine in the world and that every cab drinker is a self-styled expert. Nowhere in the known universe has one wine been so widely criticized as the cab sav. Books have even been written on that one single grape variety and its wines.
Separating themselves from the other producers, the Martini vintners opted to source their grapes from just the two top cab sav grape-producing regions in the United States, the Napa, and Sonoma counties of California.

To add even more individuality, they produce wines specific to a district. I must point out here that there are vast differences in the microclimates and soil composition in each of these districts, leading to wines with their own special and individual characteristics.
With Father’s Day rapidly approaching, I write this as a suggestion to some really exceptional wines for dear old dad — if he should happen to be a wine lover.
Louis M. Martini 2015 Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon ($20)
This is a true California wine, stressing fruit flavors over the often austere and stiff character of the grape variety. The color is deep and dark and the aroma showcases raspberries, sage and dried flowers. These carry over to the flavor, where they mingle with a cherry element and the discernible flavors of chocolate with just a hint of oak. This wine has a softness about it and reflects many of the flavor and aromas that are found only in well-aged wines. Rather than being saved to be served only with the heaviest of meat dishes, this wine’s expansive flavor spectrum allows it to be used with a broad selection of foods.
Louis M. Martini 2015 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($43)
This fine California cab stresses a big fruit aroma and flavor. Blackberry, blueberry and black currant are the featured aromas, followed very closely by mocha and a slight amount of oak in the background. These carry over to the flavor and then on to the finish. The tannin, that element in a red wine that produces the dry sensation in the cheeks, is held in check and combines with the rest of the features of this wine to produce a velvety mouth feel. I found this to be an excellent wine and an example of why Napa Valley cab savs have achieved a place of honor among the world’s finest.
Louis M. Martini 2015 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($34)
Within the Sonoma County, there are small areas that produce exceptional grapes; the Alexander Valley is one of them. This cab is a deeply colored, powerful, fruity wine that proudly upholds the traditions and beauties of its birthplace. This wine is packed with fruit flavors running the gamut of summer red fruits and berries. There is a new flavor experience with each sip. The tannins, which can be formidable in a cab sav, are held in check so that the wine needs no further aging prior to drinking. The wine, however, can be aged for up to five years to gain complexity.

Wine columnist Bennet Bodenstein can be reached at


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