“Variant Series” is a term to describe wines introduced to showcase the variations of the classical style. Wilson Creek is excited to announce our new Variant Series, which includes an uncommon mix of our now famous White Cabernet and Cabernet Zinfandel red blend. Both are conceived of and vinted to create a unique interpretation of the Nobel Varietal, Cabernet Sauvignon. Find out the difference between Zinfandel vs Cabernet, including how they get their distinct flavor, and why they are better together in our new Variant Series Cabernet Zinfandel blend.
The Science of Wine Flavor
Wine is interesting stuff from a biochemical and hence taste perspective. It takes flavors and compounds that we are genetically programmed to crave, like sweetness and ripe fruit flavors, and blends it with components that we are genetically programmed to avoid, like acid tannins and alcohols. (Ok, maybe not so much alcohol.)
Many popular wines are blended to only take advantage of those flavors that are easy to love (think White Zinfandel or fruit-driven cheap wine). Many extremely good, and more complexly nuanced, wines are a challenge until the palate has been trained to embrace the push and pull between sweet fruit and tannins acids and alcohols.
This is the genesis of the Variant Series. We are aiming for wines that are initially pleasing to the senses, but have subtle complex nuances of depth and character. The mature Zinfandel brings a fruit-driven approach and the Cabernet ends in tannins that are soft. This leads to a wine that can be paired with just a sunset or will not get lost with a burger. If you’re going to a party where you don’t know the pallets or preferences of the guests, CabZin is the perfect option – ideal for nontraditional wine drinkers, while still able to hold up to the scrutiny of wine aficionados.
California Cabernet Sauvignon
Blends have the unique capacity to combine the strengths of two different varietals, resulting in a more well-rounded and balanced wine. The classic example of this for Cabernet Sauvignon are the French Bordeaux wines. The Left Bank of the Gironde estuary is Cabernet Sauvignon dominant with lesser amounts of Merlot. The Right Bank of the Gironde estuary is Merlot dominant wines with a lesser amount of Cabernet Sauvignon. The California version of these Bordeaux inspired wines are called Meritage (rhymes with heritage).
In the rest of the world, Cabernet Sauvignon often has difficulty coming to full ripeness. But, in the California sunshine and heat, it develops fully ripe non-vegetal wines that have an initial flavor of ripe black cherries and current, spiciness and cedar.
Zinfandel, which originated in what is now modern-day Croatia, was popular throughout northern Italy before it landed in California in the mid-1800s. Thriving in a warm California climate, it then developed a unique California terroir and expression of deep rich fruit-forward notes, including blackberry, strawberry and a mild spiciness most commonly expressed as cinnamon.
The Best of Both Worlds
Our CabZin is a classic blending theory. Although Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel blends are relatively uncommon, this blend shows the best of two classic grapes that have found a unique expression in the ideal climates of Southern California.
We are very careful to use techniques that soften the tannins. This means you’ll taste the tannins, but without that signature, strong and bitter astringent profile often associated with tannins.
Once you start drinking the CabZin, you will acclimate your palate to stronger tannins and venture into wines like Sarah, Cinsault, and eventually wind up on the doorstep of Double Dog.
Zinfandel has large bold clusters that just scream out “look at me!” Juxtaposed to this is Cabernet Sauvignon’s, smaller clusters are reluctant to ripen, a little bit fussy but complex and nuanced. The marriage of these two is a marriage like the life of the party with an introverted intellectual. The expression of two dissimilar but harmonious varietals like Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon is proof positive that opposites attract.
Harvest is just winding down. Yields are a little low, but the quality is exceptional. Block One is the old vine Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard next to the tasting room. We invite you to come grab a cab, be it white or zin, and enjoy all this time of year has to offer in the vineyard where it was born! The vines always enjoy some company and although modest, love a compliment.
Experience Fine California Wine