The Dark Horse Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 is 90% Cabernet Sauvignon with a 10% of a mix of Petite Sirah and Petit Verdot sourced mainly from vineyards in the Lodi AVA, along with grapes from the Sacramento Delta and the San Joaquin Valley. These are inland growing regions that receive cooling breezes coming in from the Pacific Ocean thru the Delta and river valleys. Dark Horse is one of E & J Gallo’s many wine labels and Gallo owns vineyards in the area. The Dark Horse Cab lists for $9.99 (I found it on sale for $7.99) and its claim to fame is a sub $10 Cabernet that shows unique mocha coffee oak flavoring. The production says this Cab was aged “on” French and American oak. When oak barrels are used the wording is usually “in” not “on”. Oak barrels can cost $1,000 each, so new barrels are seldom seen in value priced wines. So how exactly the Dark Horse got the oak flavoring isn’t told, but as long as it results in a satisfying Cabernet, how it got there isn’t too important. The alcohol content is 13.5%.
The color is a dark, barely see-thru black cherry red. The nose is bright, ripe blueberry, plum, brown sugar, oak spice and cherry. This is a medium to full-bodied wine, with a blend of bold and subtle flavors. I starts with sleek blackberry, cold Starbucks Mocha, bitter dark chocolate and plum. The mid-palate brings black cherry, baking spice and a soft hit of pepper. The tannins are soft and the acidity stays in place. The finish is large and long.
I am not sure how Dark Horse got all that flavor into a ten buck and under Cabernet Sauvignon. And you figure with a value priced wine the flavor would add up to a bold “fruit bomb”, but much here is subtle and understated. Don’t fear the supermarket, the Dark Horse is a tasty, unique Cabernet. You can pair it a meal if you want, put it drinks well enough to enjoy on its own.