Sonoma winemaker Bob Cabral is a huge Game of Thrones fan. So when he got the opportunity to collaborate with HBO on a series of wines, he jumped at the chance. “Any Game of Thrones fan knows how important wine is to the show, and I think these wines capture the complexity of the drama,” says Bob.
In true “all men (and women) must drink” spirit, we chatted with Bob and World Market Wine Buyers Otto Han and Sunita Aggarwal about all-things Game of Thrones, and thought deeply about which wine Cersei was drinking before she torched the Sept…
Bob, in which ways does the show play out in the wines?
Bob: In battle and to signify status, the noble houses of the Seven Kingdoms carry banners displaying distinctive symbols. A sigil—an animal or object identified with the various houses—inspired me for the wines. House Lannister is represented by a Golden Lion—an accurate symbol for the regal, golden 2016 Central Coast Chardonnay.
House Targaryen’s sigil is a Three-Headed Dragon, expressed in the multiple varietals which come together in the 2014 Paso Robles Red Blend. This wine is a blend of Syrah, Tempranillo and Petite Sirah, which lend fragrant aromas of black cherry, vanilla and cocoa, and give the wine a lush, rich palate.
The sigil for House Stark is the Direwolf. This powerful alpha canine finds expression in the most prized wine of all, the 2014 Napa Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine captures the essence of the archetype in a complex, balanced wine with classic structure and multiple layers of flavor.
Otto: If I may add—good wine tells the story of where it was grown and how it was made. Having a winemaker of Bob’s caliber (17 years driving Williams Selyem) collaborate with HBO and Vintage Wine Estates to make these fantastic wines is very exciting. We knew that with his expertise, these wines were going to be delicious.
The Cabernet Sauvignon is supposed to represent House Stark, the Red Blend House Targaryen, and the Chardonnay House Lannister. But in your point of view, which GoT character would enjoy each wine the most?
Sunita: The Lannisters, loving all things golden, would likely enjoy the Chardonnay with as much vigor as they have shielded the Iron Throne with. Essences of bright green apple and white peach mix with touches of vanilla, inviting you to pour yourself a second glass. (And if we know Cersei, she will.)
The Red Blend has lovely fruit, but also has an underlying complexity, much like Daenerys. It’s just the thing for sipping by the fire with your “manstress” or while listening patiently as Tyrion explains why, even if you possess three dragons, you can’t just torch all of your opponents.
Tyrion Lannister, in my opinion, would enjoy the rich body and “long and intensely pleasurable finish” of the Cabernet Sauvignon. Keep in mind that he hasn’t had a romantic interest for two seasons, and the Cabernet would make for some good company.
Can you give us rapid-fire tasting notes for the Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Blend and Chardonnay?
Sunita: 2016 Game of Thrones Central Coast Chardonnay: Aromas of pear, pineapple and green apple, complemented by aromatic white flowers and lemon curd.
2014 Game of Thrones Paso Robles Red Blend: Raspberry, strawberry, black cherry and blackberry notes mingle with cocoa dust and cinnamon on the nose. Secondary notes of saddle leather, cigar box and bread crust add complexity and create a harmonious wine. (Not so rapid, sorry.)
2014 Game of Thrones Napa Cabernet: Plum, black cherry and black currant notes combine with vanilla, cinnamon and clove in this velvety and rich Napa Cabernet. Plush tannins and stony minerality make this a wine worthy of aging for a decade or longer. But who can wait?
Bob: Rest assured: The wines have great pedigree. We source grapes from the best vineyard sites and use the finest winemaking techniques to create wines of incredible richness and texture.
World Market: Which wine do you think Cersei was drinking before she torched everyone in the Sept?
Sunita: Cersei was most likely drinking the Red Blend.
World Market: Why did Danaerys opt to leave her “manstress,” Daario Naharis? We need answers.
Otto: Danaerys left Daario because she knows that in order to capture the Iron Throne she will need allies. The best way to gain allies is through marriage. That’s the standard answer, right?
World Market: Hypothetical scene: Daenerys and Jon Snow are about to share their first meal together as Targaryen co-rulers of the Iron Throne. What’s on the menu?
Otto: They’re dining over a meal of persimmons and pomegranate, roasted fowl with honey sauce, and spiced couscous with dried berries; the Red Blend is a lovely compliment to this slightly piquant and exotic cuisine. Knife to plate, wine to lips, John wonders privately if Daenerys would ever go strawberry blonde. Glancing at the fireplace, hands in her lap, Daenerys wonders if he’ll ever go to the gym. Both of them are clueless about their blood relationship (or maybe not..).