12 Days of Vinebox: Day 8

1 01 2019

By Peter Vetsch

Happy New Year!!  As we leave 2018 behind and stride into 2019, I think Vinebox might find itself in the midst of a bit of a rut, in need of a New Year’s resolution or two.  You know when the record groove glitches and the same loop of sound plays again, over and over?  We may be within that repeating loop of time now.  If you have a seasonal collection of wine that is 12 bottles large, I would resist having any two bottles in a row come from the same place.  When you hit THREE identically situated bottles in a row, and when the locale in question is Sicily, I start to wonder a bit.  This is not a slight against Sicilian wine, which is often quite wonderful, but it is a query about whether it should make up the whole of Act 2 of the 12 Days of Christmas, particularly when the drinking audience for this set is likely in large part unfamiliar with it.  Add that all 3 of the bottles in question appear to be made by the same producer, and I start to yearn for a little more variety.


All that said, sometimes the variety can be found within the produce of the winery itself. To be sure, the leaner whites from Days 6 and 7 don’t give me a lot of common ground from which to judge this CABERNET SAUVIGNON.  Sicilian Cab?  It is rare, but it exists, and here is allowed to stretch its legs in 100% pure-varietal form.  This is the 2017 Cantine Grosso Baldovino Cabernet Sauvignon, made from grapes grown in northeast Sicily, a highly friendly area for viticulture thanks to tons of sun, moderating ocean influence and mineral-laden soils.  This is been a home to cultivated grapes since Roman times but is just now being rediscovered by modern audiences.  Cantine Grosso is now five generations into its stewardship of Sicily’s long vinous history, having been founded way back in 1887.  Maybe 3 straight Vinebox days aren’t too many after all.


The liquid in this vial surely has Cabernet Sauvignon’s classic ruby-purple robe, but instead of being deep and opaque it’s brilliantly radiant and nearly transparent.  What gives?  The gleaming colour in combination with the painfully fresh aromas of blackcurrant, black raspberry, lavender, fir boughs and grape Jolly Rancher lead me to ask, shocked:  is this OAK-FREE Cab??  Research confirms – yes!  This Cantine Grosso is hand-picked, steel tank-fermented and goes right to bottle after a couple of months of maturation in tank.  I can’t remember the last time I’ve had a 100% Cabernet Sauvignon with no oak involvement whatsoever, and it makes the finished product much tangier, more electric and more linear than its standard identity.


Jumpy and tannic, sharp around the edges and tartly severe in a way quite unlike Cab’s common modus operandi, this sends missiles of blueberry popsicle, floral hand soap, Mr. Sketch purple and cast iron burrowing into the taste buds, riding tongue-tingling acid and finishing on an even sharper and leaner note:  could that be pink grapefruit?  Pomegranate?  In a Cab?  This is all high-pitched, high-toned, search-and-destroy flavours, happy served with a chill, revealing Sicily to the world for a third time.

88+ points




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