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A Suave Cabernet

Elin McCoy's Wine of the Week

2007 Counterpoint Cabernet Sauvignon

Price: $30
Sonoma Mountain, California
 100 percent cabernet sauvignon
14.5 percent
Serve with:
 Grilled lamb, other red meat

Finding a delicious, complex California cabernet for $30 isn’t an easy task — which is why I’m so excited about the wonderfully balanced 2007 Counterpoint Cabernet Sauvignon, the second label of Sonoma’s Laurel Glen Vineyard. This red overdelivers for the price, with a spicy aroma of tobacco, red berries and smoke, and bright forward fruit flavors underlined with minerality and a tantalizing floral note. Approachable now, it has enough hidden tannin to age well.

Laurel Glen’s founder and former owner Patrick Campbell introduced Counterpoint 20 years ago, when he began selecting only the best and most age-worthy lots to go into his “grand vin.” This second wine, for earlier drinking, is like a very good sketch of the cabernet that costs double Counterpoint’s price.

The grapes for both come from the same vineyard, at an elevation of 800 to 1,000 feet on Sonoma Mountain where yields are low, thanks to poor rocky soils left from volcanic eruptions millions of years ago.

The vineyard’s altitude above the fog line, eastern exposure and morning sunlight mean slow, even ripening, which preserves the wine’s juicy acidity. The result? A suave, elegant cabernet with layers of flavor without big, harsh tannins. And the 2007 vintage was textbook perfect.

Counterpoint’s combination of richness and fruit make it the perfect choice with red meat, especially grilled lamb.

Earlier this year, Campbell, who bought the vineyard in 1977, sold the property to a small group of California investors. They plan to make changes — the vineyard is now being farmed organically, and there’s a new winemaking team — and will look for a new vineyard source for Counterpoint, so they can expand its production.

But that’s the future. For now, the 2007 is a real steal.

Zester Daily contributor Elin McCoy is a wine and spirits columnist and author of “The Emperor of Wine: The Rise of Robert M. Parker, Jr. and the Reign of American Taste.”