Free Form Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 $45

As I write this, it’s 28C out and just the smallest trickle of perspiration is trickling down my back. The idea of sitting in an air conditioned movie theatre seems perfect€”if there were any movie theatre open. Perfect weather for a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon, no?

I appreciate that comes off as a joke, but I’m actually not kidding when it comes to this bottle. Yes, traditionally Cabernet Sauvignon is anything but a warm weather wine: lush fruit, grippy tannins and often so much alcohol that it turns up the heat on an already hot situation. But this is a pretty unique bottle: for starters it’s “natural”, a term that simultaneously means nothing and everything. In this case I’m using it as shorthand for a wine that has very minimal sulphur added, has a native fermentation that started spontaneously and was made with organic grapes. And unlike every other Cabernet you’ve met this year it’s low in alcohol (12.5%) and hasn’t been anywhere near an oak barrel or worse, an oak chip. It’s juicy, it’s lithe, its deft when all its Cabernet brethren are priced for their power and brutishness (everyone says they want their Cabernet to have finesse, but most don’t really mean it). Oh, and it’s best with a chill.

In some ways this is one of the nerdiest wines coming out of the Okanagan. For starters, it’s pretty rare to see Cabernet given the natural treatment: Cabernet Franc, it’s waistcoast-wearing, tattooed buddy, sure, but Cabernet Sauvignon€”that building block of big wine€”is looked upon warily by most “natural” winemakers. Luckily Okanagan Crush Pad’s (they make Free From) Matt Dumayne seems to have little time for what the cool kids are up to. He also seems to not really care how most of the Bold Name BC wineries make Cabernet (think Oak and then more Oak then serious fruit extraction). He’s crafted a really interesting experiment here€”it’s juicy, but light, has a minerality that’s rarely appears in Cabernet. It’s an exceedingly pure wine but it does have a bit of tannic bite at the finish to remind you of what grape you’re dealing with here. It’s what a modern Loire winemaker would do if they inherited a plot of Cabernet Sauvignon form their grandparents.

The only thing that isn’t light is the price€”it’s $45 and that ain’t cheap (although I can name 5 prestige OK Cabernets at the same price that are completely forgettable). And I’ve gotten very used to paying over $30 for some fun, but basic natural rosés, so I don’t know why I’d begrudge someone who’s really pushing the envelope here. Plus if you bring it to a blind tasting there’s zero chance you won’t stump the rest of the nerds€”and that’s gotta be worth something, no?