The Substance Cs Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from several vineyards in the Columbia Valley AVA of Washington. This is one of Charles Smith’s wines, now called House of Smith. They have some of the best technical notes for wines at any price point. They tell you which vineyards the grapes came from, enough fermentation details to get a general idea, and how they aged the wine.
The grapes were taken from the 28% Goose Ridge, 25% Art Den Hoed Painted Hills, 25% Badger Mountain, 13% Frenchmen Hills, and 9% Golden West vineyards. These are all well-respected vineyards and have websites; if you are interested, you can explore their histories.
The 2018 vintage received 93 points and 91 points from two leading wine reviewers, who are lofty numbers for a wine that I found for $12.99. 90 plus points do not mean that the Substance Cs Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 will be your favorite Washington Cab. Top-notch wine critics are looking for details that the average wine drinker probably does not consider.
Do the grape crush and fermentation process details match the grapes that were selected, did the oak barrel regimen enhance the wine, how were the tannins and the acidity handled. Then they have the acumen to be able to judge the wine against its competition. The wine rating system does not always translate well to the needs of value wine drinkers. But what it does do is allow you to identify top-quality wine.
The 2018 vintage in the Columbia Valley was excellent, warm when needed, and dry and stable during ripening. The Substance Cs Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 was fermented using native yeast, meaning that it floats naturally in the air or has fallen on the grape skins. Wineries often use commercial yeasts, they are more reliable, but the native yeast is thought to a better match for the grapes.
The fermentation lasted 37 days on the grape skins, which tells you how they extracted all the goodness from the grapes. The Cab Sauv was aged from 11 months in French oak Bordeaux barrels (these are the size of barrels that you usually associate as wine barrels); 45% of the barrels were new. The mix of new and old barrels allows the winemaker to achieve the desired amount of oak influence accurately.
The Substance Cs Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 is a value-priced Cabernet Sauvignon produced with the same techniques as the more expensive wines. The alcohol content is 14%. In other words, a bargain, hence the lofty wine scores.
Substance Cs Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 Tasting Notes
The Substance Cs Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 has a soft, smooth mouthfeel and opens to a flavor explosion. The color is a dark, barely see-thru black cherry red with black highlights. The nose is smokey, with ripe dark berries, mint, spice, dark chocolate, light black pepper, and vanilla.
It tastes of extracted blackberry and licorice, raspberry, pepper, spice, black pepper, and ripe plum. The mid-palate brings a slight tug from the tannins. Tannins are essential in a proper Cabernet Sauvignon and are too often hidden or reduced in value-priced Cabs. And then there is creamy blueberry, sharp orange zest, and a late cooling blast of cranberry. This is a dry wine; the technical notes show no residual sugar.
- The Substance Cs Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 is an excellent Cab. It is the full Cabernet Sauvignon experience.
- Value wines often round off the rougher or less easy-to-understand edges. These wines tend to appeal to a wider audience.
- Those wines are not necessarily bad; they can be delightful to drink, even if they are dumbed down.
- The Substance Cs Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 does not pull its punches; this wine can compete with more expensive wines. And it is delicious.