The name Louis M. Martini on a cabernet, even when visible only in the fine print on the back of the bottle, makes it a good bet that the wine will be worth drinking. Such is certainly the case for the 2007 Ghost Pines Winemaker's Blend Cabernet Sauvignon (about $17 at wine shops and big-box stores).
This cab is unusual for the Martini winemakers because it sources its grapes from two of California's premier wine-growing regions: Napa (59 percent) and Sonoma counties. The cabs that have the Martini name right out front come either from single vineyards or a single region.
For the wine drinker seeking a good match at a decent price for a gorgeous dry-aged rib eye, the sourcing of this wine is just so much arcana. The wine speaks for itself quite eloquently.
This is not a fruit-forward red. It is restrained and complex with fully developed tannins and a long beguiling finish. On the nose one gets dark stone fruits at first sniff followed by light smoke and leather. On the tongue those tannins are to the fore, structuring a mellow smoky leather flavor underpinned by black currant and fig with a touch of warm spice through the middle. There's even a whiff of gunpowder black tea, which becomes more evident on the lingering, satisfying finish.
The Ghost Pines cab will serve nobly with a prime cut of beef, but it also would work well with something as assertive as brined, spice-rubbed pork chops on the grill.
By Colette and John Bancroft. She is the Times' book editor, and he is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine and travel.