Wine Not? Three Families Winery
Wine tasting can take the form of a few friends getting together, a panel of experts, a class, a symposium, a casual group of industry professionals, or in our case in front of a live studio audience on camera. Like a delicious wine and cheese pairing, Donnybrook’s new column Wine Not?, sponsored by Mondo Vino, pairs our resident Sommelier Gilligan Van Yikes‘ written review of Three Families’ Cabernet with a video tasting of Three Families’ Merlot at the bottom of this post. Watch our ever-thirsty host Rich LeFevre enjoying his fair share of Merlot with world-famous deejay, emcee, and air guitar champion Magic Cyclops:
Mention ‘Donnybrook’ in the store this week to receive a 15% discount on Three Families’ Cabernet! And make sure to sign up for Mondo Vino’s email newsletter at MondoVino.net.
The 2003 Cabernet from Three Families Winery in Mendocino County was lovingly provided by Mondo Vino. I hadn’t heard of this wine or this winery, but I’m glad I know it now. The Cabernet is $16 on their website but I made a point of not knowing that before I tasted it. I went into the experiment with only the knowledge that they are a creative crew, their labels telling an ongoing story in a very cool graphic novel format that makes for interesting conversation pieces. Show up to a party with a bottle or two of this wine or her sister Merlot, and you’ll be sure to get props for your contribution, unless your friends are literalists who need wine just to be wine, in which case you should stop hanging out with them.
Three Families wine bottles feature super-dramatic comic strips, and you have to buy the next wine to see what happens next!
On initial open, the wine looks as if it’s going to be a big monster, with a dark heart fading very little toward the rim, holding promise of a wine that wants, maybe even needs, food.
The wine is wearing a mask it seems though, presenting very light on the nose with good acidity and some fruit with neither being immediately pervasive. There is structure for sure, but the juice presents itself as a lighter, more ready-to drink, friendly type of cabernet.
With aeration, tobacco and leather floats forward and there is a ribbon of eucalypt which runs across the field and the wine seems to be waving you in.
On first taste, the fruit, which had just shown itself lightly before, begins to become more round and after a short while, the wine seems to bloom in the glass and the more flavors start flooding the palate. The leather and eucalypt carry through the mid palate and then the wine finishes with light fruit and some good acidity. The finish is long enough to be interesting but not incredibly lingering.
I left the bottle for two hours and came back to it to see what I thought after some time, and to see if it had changed at all. I was pleasantly surprised that the wine was even more open, it hadn’t faltered with the additional oxygen. The eucalypt had calmed down and the fruit, a delightful swirl of red and dark fruits, had stepped forward to prominence and had made sure that the last thing I tasted was a full palate.
Overall this wine was pretty damn good. It has an interesting and well put together set of flavors and is incredibly drinkable. It has good structure and the wonderful ability to be a wine you can crack open and drink without pause or which could be easily paired with a nice dinner, although I would shy away from heavy steaks, rich sauces or endangered species.
Now, watch Rich LeFevre and Magic Cyclops savor the gentle nuances of the Merlot from Three Families: