It's a lovely bucolic image: sheep manicuring the rows in a rolling vineyard while sheepdogs stand watch, the very picture of both sustainable farming in action and of vigilance, which just happens to be the name of this Lake County, Calif., enterprise. The rise of green growing practices is a welcome trend in the world's vineyards and we're always happy to find a wine that shows what a success sustainable and organic farming can be.
The 2009 Vigilance Cabernet Sauvignon (about $14 at big-box stores and some wine shops) is a lush and jubilant red that will pair perfectly with muscular preps of meats like steak au poivre or osso buco.
It leads off with what might once have been called a jammy nose, before that phrase became terminally overused. In any event, the bouquet is redolent of ripe black cherries and blackberries, with just a hint of underlying leather. On the tongue, the top note is blackberry and the cherry has shifted from the black variety to red. Evolved tannins support those flavors nicely. There's a bit of that leather again at mid palate, and both smoke and black tea make fleeting appearances on the long, edgy finish.
By Colette and John Bancroft. She is the Times' book editor, and he is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine and travel. For an index and archive of reviews, go to pictograph.com.