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I didn’t pay close attention to the invite before attending, and walked into the swanky west side digs of Mercato di Vetro, ready to taste a broad assortment of wines at a trade show last week. To my chagrin, it was a Cabernet only event. I wandered the gauntlet of fine red wines, oblivious on the first lap through the restaurant. Head in the clouds, wearing a curious look, until I gathered that the tasting would make it a big red day, and then finally got it. Oh!

Tables lined with broad-shouldered bottles sourced from Napa Valley and afar, flaunting tongue-shattering tannins and ripe fruits as far as I could see. I knew I would be lucky to make it through thirty wines before my tongue was caput. Picking a table at random I began my flight in Argentina and worked my way up to the sub-appellations of Napa Valley.

There were more than a few stellar Cabernets in the house like the polished Reynolds Family reds and the seductive tobacco-heavy reserva Cabernet from Bodega y Cavas de Weinert (definite blog fodder). I nerded out with that earthy Argentine Cab before coming to, with the final bottle of my tasting—a 2008 Brookman Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon—that was without an apparent dance partner.

Nobody to sing its praises, the dense seven-fifty was alone at an unmanned table. with an inspiring label depicting the western range of Mayacama Mountains and a big nose of blackberry, cherry, leather, vanilla and mocha seeping from the glass as I poured. Textbook! A luscious berry attack, balanced by its restrained oak and sumptuous weight on the tongue. The rich flavors stayed with me as I walked out the door.

Surprising and unexpected, I found myself fawning over more than the brunette (acting floor manager) who worked there, taking home a renewed appreciation for some affordable Napa Cabernet producers ($40-50), as well as a pleasant introduction to an Argentine dynamo. I wasn’t ready for the Cabernet tasting at the onset, but left happier because of it.

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