At one time, Cabernet was king for me. I drank Bordeaux at times but mostly Napa Valley and Australian Cabs, big and burley--Burgess Cellars, Conn Creek, Napa Cellars, Stag's Leap, Taltarni, Penfold's Bin 407. Those wines were very affordable then; not so, today. But the major change has been my diet, which has shifted from American staples of meat and potatoes to Mediterranean fare, focusing on roasted vegetables, fish and pasta. A big, oaky Cabernet just doesn't taste very good with penne arrabiata, ribollito or a spicy Mexican dish. For these dishes, Grenache/Syrah-based wines--low in tannin and big in flavor--are exactly what the taste buds call for.
I bought this McWilliams Hanwood Estate Cabernet because the price was right, and while it's not going to turn my head away from any of my favorite Southern Rhones, it was an agreeable wine to accompany beef fajitas. The color is a deep crimson with purple tints. The aromas are not so typically Cabernet--spice, tannin, berry and vanilla but no pronounced varietal character. The firm tannins on the mid palate fade with airing, however, and there are pleasant flavors of plums, cherry sauce and spice. Aged in about 30% new barrels (apparently American oak), the wine is not overly oaky. A little bit of residual sugar and a good dose of alcohol (14%) make it quite pleasant going down. A pleasant wine for $8.99 and a better choice than one of those cute wines with animals on the label.