1. I learned something from my Dad over dinner tonight: compared to Italian wines, California wines generally tend to be fruitier, less tight/focused, and less intense.
In other words, he would be killin’ it right now if he were in Tuscany and/or Russian River Valley.
2. On that note, if you are looking for a decent, medium-bodied red wine for under $20.00, Columbia Crest Horse Heaven Hills 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon (http://www.columbiacrest.com/wines/release/176/) is something to consider. A Washington State wine, it has a nice floral nose, earthy flavors, and a surprisingly nice cocoa finish to it, something that becomes more evident as it opens up. It may be a bit too fruity to some of you looking for a more serious Cabernet, but it still is worth a try, especially if you are on a budget and/or new to wine.