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Wine Pick of the Week

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Smoking Loon Cab Picmonkey

2013* Cabernet Sauvignon


Smoking Loon

Valle Central, Chile

Alcohol: 13.5%

Suggested Retail: $10

“Smoking Loon is a brand of Don Sebastiani and Sons. The family has generations-deep winemaking history in California’s Sonoma County, but has grown into broader definition and now markets wine under several brands, as well as Tequila. It even has a flavored water in the product mix.

“Currently Smoking Loon sells 14 wines. Of the seven reds, six are sourced from Chile. The other, a Zinfandel, carries a California appellation, as do all the whites. You may begin to see more California labels acknowledging points of origin outside the state. It’s a very competitive market and wineries are scrambling to produce a quality product at price points that allow them some margin, especially in this price category (We found this bottle in a supermarket for a couple of dollars less than the suggested retail of $10).

“We think this week’s ‘Pick,’ the 2013 vintage Smoking Loon Cabernet Sauvignon*, to be a pretty attractive bottle of wine—whether priced at $8 bucks or $10. These days it’s hard to find a bottle of wine at this price that shows much personality. Many may be recognizable as the variety on the label, though just barely. They tend to be very fruity and finish at least a little bit sweet. There’s a ready audience for this style, but we prefer something leaner and dryer when pouring for our table—such as the Smoking Loon Cabernet. We enjoyed the fruit qualities of blackberries and currants, especially since they didn’t come across as sweet and jammy. There were some herbal notes in the nose and on the palate and some vanilla from the oak aging. None of these descriptors seemed too pronounced, though. In all, it seemed nicely balanced and a solid choice for this price category.”


Editor’s Note:  Wines reviewed in Taste California Travel are encountered by our staff in several ways. They can be discovered at trade tastings or visits to wineries. They may also be purchased by staff members for their own tables or be those sent by wineries for possible review. This is an editorial feature, not advertising, and appearance cannot be secured by payment. More information can be had by contacting This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



*Winery website indicates that current release is the 2015 vintage.

Food Affinity: “We believe that any red meat/red wine combination is a step in the right direction. You couldn’t go wrong with a grilled rib eye or New York, just seasoned with salt and pepper. If you’re a bit more ambitious, you might want to some lamb marinated with olive oil, garlic, rosemary and thyme—this might harmonize with the herbs that loon has been smoking.”

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