The 2008 Bonterra Cabernet Sauvignon (about $14 at big box stores and wine-savvy markets) is a pleasantly stern wine, its nearly militaristic structure marching it right along from subtly dark bouquet through a medium long, lightly spiced finish.
Bonterra's grapes — in this case 85 percent cab, 10 percent syrah and the balance petite sirah — are organically grown and have been since 1993. Although the environment and sustainable practices are major factors in Bonterra's commitment to growing organically, winemaker Robert Blue emphasizes that he has "learned from experience that only organically grown grapes can express the purity and intensity of varietal character" Bonterra shoots for.
On the nose this deep red cab offers dark fruit with hints of clove and tobacco and maybe a smidgen of vanilla. On the tongue black cherry and raspberry come to the fore, accented by nuanced roasted beet (earthy and sweet at the same time), black coffee and tart red plum. Its well-developed tannins carry the whole structure nicely through a clean, slightly lingering finish marked by the reappearance of light clove right at the end.
This wine will pair well with red meats, of course, but we'd also be happy to serve it alongside linguine with walnuts, figs and crumbled blue cheese.
By Colette and John Bancroft. She is the Times' book editor, and he is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine and travel.