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Flavors That Make Cabernet Great

Judging is highly subjective, and there are as many methods of evaluating wines as there are tasters. That’s a good thing. If wines could be rated objectively, we’d all be buying Microsoft Cabernet. The following is my own approach to evaluating Cabernet at Kathryn Kennedy Winery in Saratoga, Calif., where I have been winemaker since 1981. It should only serve as a guideline for your own consideration of the subject. What Goes Wrong The first step for me is to detect any flaws. Flaws are off-flavors that exceed the taster’s sensory threshold. Sensitivity to a flaw, such as vinegar, varies with the nose’s ability to pick up that component as well as a person’s tolerance for that character in a wine. A wine with a noticeable flaw, whether the origin is chemical, spoilage organisms, viticultural, or simply cellar neglect, immediately becomes unacceptable to me, regardless of any of its other attributes. One flaw that actually is a balance issue is an over-oaked wine. Those that remind me foremost of a lumber yard or a two-by-four, I consider unacceptable. Aroma and