Yesterday when I was at Trader Joe’s, this elderly gentleman tapped me on the back (as I was searching for a Spanish Tempranillo option to sample) and said “Ma’am, if you like a good red wine, you should try this…” and he handed me a bottle of the Original Darkhorse Cabernet Sauvignon 2012.  His wife was standing there and she said “It is dry.”  He responded with “If it wasn’t dry, I wouldn’t like it.”

So I thought…why not?  How often do I get tapped by a stranger to try a wine? So I put a bottle in my cart.  I’d read the flavor profile on the card: “Bold flavors of blackberry and black cherry, supported by firm tannins, brown spice and a dark chocolate espresso finish”.  It sounded like something I might like and while I was still skeptical of getting a drinkable cabernet for that price, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to test.

For once, the winery’s description was spot on.  Everything they said you could taste, you could taste.  We also tasted a bit of plum.  Is this wine a hidden gem, killer deal? For $7.99, yes…if you love the California style Cabernet.  While I wouldn’t say it’s sweet, it’s a bit more fruit forward than I prefer.  As I mentioned, it is clearly in the style of a California 2012 Cabernet with a lush, medium to full mouthfeel. Nearly all the 2012’s are drinking very well right now.  No decant needed on this one.  This is the same.  The grapes are sourced out of Lodi, Sacramento and San Joaquin Valley.  It paired superbly with dinner and that was a plus for me, since again, I thought it was a bit fruit forward on it’s own.  I would compare this to the $15-18 Cabernets that you’d buy elsewhere.  And if you love the California-style Lake County cabs (taste reminded me a lot of that style) check it out.  You might find yourself a great bargain.

2012 was what the wine makers are calling a “picture perfect” vintage for California wines.  The wines are maturing quickly, drinkable now (and aren’t as cellar worthy as the cooler 2011 vintage) and it’s really hard to find a bad Cabernet from that year.

Again, just a reminder, I’m referring this wine to those that prefer the “new world” style over the dryer, less fruity, more savory styles from Burgundy.

If you try it, feel free to post your thoughts.