What I’ve Been Drinking of Late, Part 14

The 2019 Memento Mori Cabernet Sauvignon has power and finesse.
The 2019 Memento Mori Cabernet Sauvignon has power and finesse.

2019 Memento Mori Cabernet Sauvignon

What do you get when you source grapes from the storied Napa Valley vineyards of Beckstoffer Dr. Crane, Beckstoffer Las Piedras, Oakville Ranch, Vine Hill Ranch and Weitz Vineyard, and blend them into one singular wine?

The flagship 2019 Memento Mori Cabernet Sauvignon ($250).

You know you have something special — and spendy — on your hands when the bottle arrives, as my sample did, in its own custom-designed, cushioned box like fine art.

Winemaker Sam Kaplan has created an inky garnet wine that is velvety smooth. Big Cabs sometimes exhibit aggressive tannins early on, needing to be set aside to age to give them time to settle down. Not Memento Mori. This is a powerful wine that surprises with impeccable balance already. There are aromas of dark berries and dark wooded forests. The palate gets caressed with cassis, purple plum, mocha, cranberry and pomegranate, plus a touch of anise and toast.

Outfitted with its own custom box like fine jewelry.
Outfitted with its own custom box like fine jewelry.

Consider this the Dwyane “The Rock” Johnson of Cabs — imposing, with weight and solid structure, yet also surprising with a soft, gentle side.

It would go swimmingly alongside holiday prime rib. Or wintery short ribs finished with pomegranate arils.

This is not an inexpensive wine by any means. But if you’ve spent the past two years mostly stuck at home, and forgoing vacations of any sort, this would be a lovely way to treat yourself.

Find the 2019 or 2018 vintages at the winery, as well as at J.J. Buckley Fine Wines, Fine Wines International, and Benchmark Wine Group.

Cheers: Memento Mori was founded in 2010 by three friends, Hayes Drumwright, Adriel Lares, and Adam Craun. While a competitive swimmer in college, Drumwright was diagnosed with testicular cancer. He survived, going on to become a tech millionaire at age 28 in the dot-com boom, only to go bankrupt a year later in the dot-com bust. He rebounded, founding other tech businesses and a venture capital firm.

Following that trajectory, the three named the winery Memento Mori, Latin for “Remember that you will die.” Preferring a more upbeat translation, they interpret it instead as: “Remember to Live” — words that no doubt resonate even more coming out of a worldwide pandemic.

Vento di Mare Nerello Mascalese

Put an Italian spin on Thanksgiving with Vento di Mare Nerello Mascalese, made with organic Italian grapes grown in Sicily.

Ruby in color, this wine, of which I received a sample, is affordable ($11) and an easy-drinking, everyday medium-weight red wine. There’s a fresh taste to the notes of blackberry, tart cherry, and blueberry intertwined with the warmth of clove and cinnamon.

Made from indigenous Sicilian grapes.
Made from indigenous Sicilian grapes.

Uncork it as you fix dinner to let it breathe a little so the tannins and acidity can smooth out. It would go well with turkey and cranberry sauce, as well as stuffing made with pork sausage.

Find it at Vivino and City Vino.

Cheers: The grape varietal is an ancient one used traditionally by Sicilian farmers to make wine at home to enjoy at family gatherings and celebrations. That makes it ideal for Thanksgiving, don’t you think?

2019 Tangent Albarino

When the chill of winter hits, some folks steer clear of white wines in favor of heavier, broodier reds. I can understand that. But I’m one who loves the refreshing crispness of a tangy white year-round.

Even if you’re decked out in a ski sweater, there’s something wonderfully quenching about a cool, citrusy Spanish varietal that perks up the taste buds.

The 2019 Tangent Albarino Paragon Vineyard Edna Valley ($17), of which I received a sample, is that kind of wine — exploding with lemon, tangerine, pineapple and green apple, along with a touch of salinity.

A refreshing Spanish varietal to enjoy.
A refreshing Spanish varietal to enjoy.

Serving chilled Dungeness or shrimp cocktail during the holidays? This is the wine to unscrew (yes, no fussing with a corkscrew, either) to sip glass after glass.

It’s available at Tour Guide Wines, Baileyana Winery, and North County Wine Company.

Cheers: The 2018 vintage garnered a 90-point rating from Wine Enthusiast. The 2017 vintage took home gold at the Orange County Wine Competition. So, if you find the 2019 in short supply, you can rest assured that you’ll be in good company with most any vintage.

More: What I’ve Been Drinking of Late, Part 11

And: What I’ve Been Drinking of Late, Part 12

And: What I’ve Been Drinking of Late, Part 13

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