Cameron Hughes Wine | Lot 500

Cameron Hughes Wine | Lot 500

Cameron Hughes is the first wine negociant to release 500 wines in the first 10 years of production.  There are hardly any producers who’ve released 500 wines period.  How does he do it?wine bottle with stained label

For those of you new to the Cameron Hughes Wine business model here’s how he does it.  Cameron buys wine.  He doesn’t own a vineyard or a winery, he just buys wine.  The wine comes from well known high end brands, small production boutique labels and family vineyards.  He signs a non-disclosure agreement and keeps their name private because he is selling the same juice for a quarter of the price.  Some times he just buys the component wines and reblends and reformulates them into a more approachable “drink now” wine.  Other times he buys the same blend of the source and other times he even buys wine in “shiners” or unlabeled bottles.  But you can tell by the cork where the wine actually came from.

Cameron started out 10 years ago with Lot #1.  Selling wine out of the back of his Volvo station wagon to restaurants in the bay area.  Surreptitiously Costco came across Lot #1 and placed and order for over 2,000 cases.  Cameron suddenly had to scramble how to fill the order.  But he did.  Which led to a long relationship with Costco.  Which brings us to Lot #500

Lot 500 represents 10 years of producing what I believe to be the best values from the Napa area.  One thing that Cameron really knows is his Cabernets, Merlots and Meritages. His Pinots and Chardonnays are great too, but since I’m a big red wine drinker, I tend to favorite the Napa based wines in his portfolio.

Ever since Lot 100, Cameron has marked the centennial wines by going all out.  Lot 500 is no exception.  Here’s the quick facts:cameron-hughes-lot-500-1

100% Napa Valley

85% Cabernet Sauvignon

8% Petite Verdot

4% Merlot

3% Cabernet Franc

Alcohol: 13.9%  Production: 3,000 cases.

  Price: $29

The Taste

is incredible.  Still very young, drinkable now but really this wine will need bottle aging before it really starts to shine.  Right now it’s a big bold knockout punch but give it time to unwind and relax and mature and this will be drinking like a $100+ bottle.   I expect this to really impress in 2+ years from now.  As with the other Cameron Hughes wines  I’ve managed to store and age, this wine will really seem like a bargain in a couple of years and again I’ll be wishing I had bought more than I did.

You can find Lot 500 at select Costco’s in Arizona and California as well as on the Cameron Hughes Wine website.

Here are some photos from the Lot 500 pre-release party at the Pottery Barn

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3 new releases from Cameron Hughes | Nov 2013

Cameron Hughes Wines Lot 387, 337 and 425

wine bottle stained

Lot 387 Meritage | Lot 387 Merlot | Lot 425 Pinot Noir

I had the chance to host a team tasting for a national wine sales company last month and taste a wide variety of wines including 5 new wines from Cameron Hughes Wine.    [learn more about cameron hughes wine]

In this post I’m just going to go through the wines rapid fire.  I’ll write more on the releases and Cameron Hughes in the next article.

Lot 387, 2011 Merlot, Oakville Napa Valleystained wine label

100% Oakville fruit   

87% Merlot 

13% Cabernet Sauvignon

14.1% Alcohol      

Production: 6500 cases

According to the Cameron Hughes website the source of the merlot in this deal is a family well known for farming the best dirt in Oakville but only has a small wine label of their own.  The cabernet components are sourced from “Stagecoach vineyard and two other $100+ cab producers – it even has a few barrels of Hughes Wellman petit verdot and malbec components”

As of Dec 11th, 2013 the wine is unreleased and there’s no definite price but judging by Cameron Hughes other Napa Valley wine projects its safe to say it will be in the $15-$20 range.

The taste

As soon as I first tasted this wine, within a few seconds I recognized the wine.  It was familiar to me.  But frustratingly I couldn’t put my finger on it.   Not being a MASTER SOMMERLIER  I was never able to rapid fire describe this wine like Data the android from Star Trek the Next Generation. The taste, mouthfeel and aroma were a distinct schism between Napa and something extra and unique.  Slightly earthy Napa.  A sort of Rutherford dusty but dark and young Oakville mixed with a dark and young fruit.  The Hughes Wellman component is interesting, although a couple of barrels out of 6500 cases might be a little difficult to distinguish.

What does this mean?   It’s a nice wine. For the price point it would be really difficult to find a better Merlot.  This wine would definitely be more of the Cabernet Sauvignon lovers Merlot.  This wine would pair equally with grilled meats just as well with rich tomato based pasta dishes, although I had it with a cheese platter from Costco.

Lot 337, 2010 Meritage, Rutherford Napa Valleywine label with piano

100% Rutherford fruit

68% Merlot

29% Cabernet Sauvignon

3% Petite Verdot

Production: 2225 Cases

I tasted these wines only a few weeks ago and in the time since, this Lot 337 has actually sold out online.  It will only be available at select Costco’s in Arizona and California.

The taste

Immediately I thought American Bordeaux.  For the $15-$20 this wine was sold at its another great value.  It would be quite difficult to find a comparable Napa Meritage at this price.  This wine received both a 90 point rating and editor’s choice from Wine Enthusiast.  I thought it was decent.  Very decent.  Although not a style I find myself drinking regularly, Meritage does offer a nice change up to more regular varietal specific wines.  For people who prefer blends that are true blends and not just a single component topped off with a few other components, this would be a great wine.

Lot 425 2012 Pinot Noir, Central Coast  *California*

Not everyone knows that Central Coast means California so I always put that in there.  I used to live on the north coast.  Of British Columbia, Canada.  To me, the central coast was a largely uninhabited temperate rainforest.  wine label stains100% Central Coast fruit. 100% Pinot Noir. 

Alcohol 14.2% Production 4,500 cases

The taste

Again, immediate value on this wine.  Priced at $16 online, possibly less at retailers this is very nice Pinot Noir.  It’s light and fruit forward, yet dry and bold  enough to make it interesting.  Full disclosure:  I was given a bottle of this wine that was leftover from the Cameron Hughes Lot 500 pre release party.  This review is based on that bottle, tasted over 2 nights at 4,326 feet above sea level.

Light, crisp, somewhat young fruit.  Plum and cherry.  Not a terribly complex pinot but more complex than most wines in this price range.  A really solid pinot.  And I’m really a very critical pinot person, I’m much more of a bigger red wine drinker, but this was a decent wine that I could drink and enjoy.  Which I did, with dark chocolate almond clusters from Sprout’s Farmer’s Market.

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Wine Review | Robert Mondavi 2010 Pinot Noir | Carneros

Wine Review | Robert Mondavi, 2010 Pinot Noir, Carneros

2010 carneros

2010 Pinot Noir, Carneros

According to the literature supplied with this review sample, 2010 was “an exceptionally chilly, wet spring followed by a cool summer of no summer”.  The season was characterized by below average temperatures, a small heat wave in August and heavy rains in October.  Again, according to the literature, the yields were “significantly lower than average.”

One of the things I noticed on a trip to Howell mountain in June of 2011 was how far behind the mountain fruit was compared to the fruit of the valley floor.  I would imagine the same effect with the 2010 Carneros vintage.  The result would be low yield, high intensity berries.

This 100% Pinot Noir has a restrained nose of blackberry and spice.  The palate is  rich with raspberry and an almost pine like forestyness to it.  There is enough acidity and backbone to make this a solid wine, a wine that a Cabernet drinker might get into.  There is a hint of toasty oak owing to 7 months aging in 34% new French oak. Alcohol weighs in at 14.5% which was a little surprising, not too much heat on the palate although the nose was hot yet vibrant.  For those wine drinkers who have not yet experienced “heat”  try adding vodka to Capri Sun in quantities that it begins to sterilize your nostrils and mouth.  Thats heat.  This wine doesnt have that, don’t worry

The suggested retail price on this wine is $27, although most retailers will probably have it at around $20.  As far as California Pinot Noir goes, this is a decent value, and if you can pick it up for $15 or less it would be a good deal.  I’m not a huge fan of the varietal in general, although some of the best wines I have ever tasted have been Pinots.  This wine is a decent effort.  If you’re looking for something better than average, without breaking the bank this is it.

Weekly Wine Journal Rating: 88 points

Wine Review | Robert Mondavi | 2010 Chardonnay | Napa Valley

Robert Mondavi 2010 Chardonnay, Napa Valley

2010 Napa Valley

2010 Chardonnay, Napa Valley

Like the vintage in neighboring Carneros, the 2010 Napa Valley vintage was below average in temperature.  The cool season allowed the fruit more time to ripen on the vine and according to Mondavi literature this intensified the flavors nicely.

The first thing to note with this wine is a nicely vibrant nose.  The nose is crisp with a slightly searing citric acidity.  There is a hint of ripe fruit lurking ever so slightly in the background.

The second thing to note is that the palate is quite different than the powerful nose would suggest.  The palate is wonderfully smooth and restrained, and balanced.  The oak is not over done, which I find to be the case with so many Napa Chardonnays.  The oak was more anecdotal, the main characteristic being a smooth creamy texture and a tropical fruit bouquet.

The fruit for this vintage actually came from Napa (41%), Carneros (39%) and 12% Sonoma.  The juice or 77% of it was fermented in 15% new French oak.  Thats where we get just a hint of the oak, or less than many producers integrate.

Suggested retail price on this wine is $20 with some retailers charging around $15.  This wine is a decent value at $20.  Like most of the Mondavi product line, you are buying name recognition and consistency, and this wine has both.

Weekly Wine Journal Rating: 90 points

*wine was provided as sample*

Sauvignon Blanc Shoot Out

Starborough | Washington Hills | Barefoot

Wine Blog

With Spring in full swing and summer just around the corner it’s time to start thinking about cool crisp and refreshing wines to quench our palates.  To this end I took a trip to my local grocery store’s wine department and somewhat randomly picked out a selection of Sauvignon Blanc to review for you

In picking the wines, I wanted to pick three wines, from different areas and at different price points, though staying under $15 as the Weekly Wine Journal’s budget is not as robust as you might think.

Starborough, 2011 Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough New Zealand.

The nose on this wine has hints of lime and lemon grass, not an incredibly aromatic nose.  On the palate the lime like acidity really pops, giving the wine a refreshing perk.  The lemon grass that Sauv Blancs from Marlborough are well known for made an appearance in the mid palate, and was quite nicely balanced, not over powering.   I enjoyed the tart crispness of this wine, a good straightforward, refreshing wine wine for a hot summer day.

Price: $11.99 | Alcohol 13% | 89 points Weekly Wine Journal

Washington Hills, 2010 Sauvignon Blanc, Washington State

This wine really surprised me right away.  The nose is amazing.  Big aromatics.  Ripe Melon intermingled with the interesting perfume of Lychee.  The palate features tropical fruits balanced with just enough acidity to keep it from being flabby.  This wine was my favorite of the group

Price $10.99 | Alcohol 13.8% | 93 points Weekly Wine Journal

Barefoot, Sauvignon Blanc, California.

Over the years many people have told me how much they have enjoyed the Barefoot wines.  They assured me they weren’t that bad.  So I decided I would give them a try.  Unfortunately they were all wrong. I found it difficult to detect a nose on this wine.  The palate was one dimensional.  It really just tasted like watered down kids apple juice, with an unpleasant hint of alcohol.

Price $ 5.99 | Alcohol % ? | 78 points Weekly Wine Journal

There you have it folks, 2 wines to enjoy and one to avoid.  Have you tried any of these wines? What kinds of wines do you enjoy when the weather heats up?

Wine Review | Robert Foley Vineyards | 2007 Petite Sirah, Napa

wine blog

2007 Robert Foley Petite Sirah

Robert Foley is  well known for his critically acclaimed Claret, a Bordeaux style red wine. Robert Foley’s Claret has received 94+ points every year since 2001 from both The Wine Advocate and Wine Spectator.  At $110 a bottle most people will find this too steep a price to pay for perfection.  Luckily Robert Foley does make other varietals, which are equally perfect and less than half the price.

The 2007 Petite Sirah from Napa Valley is one such wine.  At roughly $60 retail this wine can be enjoyed by a slightly bigger group of “wine enthusiasts”.

I say “wine enthusiasts” because this is a serious wine. By serious I mean powerful, full bodied, rich, opulent and dark.  This wine is a tannic monster with a minimum of 20 years aging potential.  Don’t let the word tannic fool you though, it’s not an overly acidic wine, in fact it is exceptionally smooth and supple.

The thing that blows me away the most about this wine is the 16.5% alcohol content!  I didn’t check the % before drinking the wine, I rarely do.  Near the end of the bottle on the 2nd night I check and was amazed.  There is no heat whatsoever and just a hint of ripeness.  An overly ripe almost raisin like flavor is the hallmark of overly alcoholic poorly made fruit bombs. The ripeness in this wine is so faint as to be barely noticeable and is perfectly balanced by the tannins.

Robert Foley vineyards produce relatively small quantities of wine (less than 100 cases of their Howell Mountain Cabernet are produced every year)  there is still some 2007 Petite Sirah available, my advice is:

If you are a wine nerd/enthusiast like me, you will want to have this wine in your collection.

Weekly Wine Journal rating: 98 points

2007 Robert Foley Petite Sirah

Wine review | d’Arenberg 2005 “The Dead Arm”


95 Points Robert Parker $50-$75

d’Arenberg 2005 “The Dead Arm” McLaren Vale,  South Australia

Varietal:  100% McLaren Vale Shiraz

Alcohol: 14.5%

Production: ? d’Arenberg does not disclose production levels of its wines

Aging: 21 months new and used French Oak.

Price: $50-$75

If you haven’t heard of d’Arenberg, then you are missing out on some of the best Australian wine available.  d’Arenberg was founded in 1912, and is one of Australia’s most renowned producers.  The Dead Arm is their flagship wine.

The name Dead Arm actually comes from a fungal disease that effects vines all over the world.  The disease effects one half of the wine, basically reducing it to dead wood, The Dead Arm is that side of the vine.  Most vineyards dig up these vines and start over.  However d’Arenberg decided to harvest the fruit left on the other side, the side not destroyed.  The vines are very low yield and the fruit is tiny and super concentrated.  The vines are 80-120 years old and the grapes are harvested by hand.

98 Points Weekly Wine Journal

The production:  open top fermentation, the must is not plunged or pumped while fermentation takes place. Only after primary fermentation is the must pressed, and it is done so in the traditional way; by foot!  After foot pressing, the wine is basket pressed and then transferred to oak barrels for over 20 months.  Finally each barrel is assessed for its quality and only the best barrels are used to make the wine.

The Dead Arm has received a ton of critical acclaim. In fact between 1996 and 2006 Robert Parker awarded this wine four 95 point ratings, three 96 point ratings and one 98 point rating.

So how does the 2005 vintage stack up.  At this point the only other vintage I have to compare it against is the 2003.  I have to say that the ’05 is superior, even though they both received 95 points from Parker.

First off the wine is BLACK. and I mean black.  There is a fair amount of sediment present, nothing that a bit of decanting or a strainer can’t remedy.  I think the prescense of sediment is actually a good thing, a foreshadowing.

The nose is intense, full of black fruit, peppery, almost a tar or creosote like burn in the nostrils.  Followed by hints of star anise.

The palate is explosive.  The first sip seemed to excite every single taste bud on my tongue, seemed to electrify my palate.  I literally said “WOW!” out loud. Hands down the best Shiraz I’ve ever had.  Not that I’ve had thousands, but I’ve been enjoying Australian Shiraz at different price points for over 20 years now and this is the creme de la creme.

The palate consists of a subtle sour cherry liqueur which is then vaporized by a dark chocolate pepper and cigar smoke finish.  The wine is not sweet, but there is a tiny element of ripe fruit intermingled in the palate.  Parker in his review in 2007 said that this wine could benefit from 3-5 years of cellaring.  Well it is 2011 now, 4 year later and the wine is still fairly astringent.  This becomes noticeable later on after you have had a few glasses.  It is such a concentrated powerful wine it almost hurts, almost, but it doesn’t.  Another feature that is thankfully absent is the “Aussie fruit bomb” characteristic.  It’s not a sweet jammy syrupy wine.  It is dry, concentrated, complex and tannic, and extremely well balanced.

If you are a pinot noir drinker, this wine will punish you, however if you are a fan of the bigger bolder, and drier wines I think this will be exactly what you are looking for.

Weekly Wine Journal rating: 98 points

Two amazing wines from Pomerol, France

You may  have heard of Bordeaux, but what about Pomerol?  Where is it? What is it?  For the average American wine consumer French wine remains a mystery, with classifications, and first growth and Chateau’s and regions.  Not to mention the wine is not labelled as Cabernet or Merlot.

First, lets locate Pomerol.  There it is!  Not far from the city of Bordeaux, the tiny commune is less than 3 square miles.  Pomerol is a sub-region of the “right bank” of Bordeaus but Pomerol differs from Bordeaux in that there is no official classification system. Read this Wikipedia article about wine classification in France if you don’t already know what it is.

The wines of Pomerol are typically less tannic and rely more heavily on Merlot.  The other two varieties of grape used are Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Over the past year I have managed to get my hands on some hard to find, and amazing examples of Pomerol produced wine.  First let me say that these wines are not cheap.  If you are looking for an affordable summer sipper these are not them.  But if you are looking for a serious wine for a special occaision these two wines are worth considering.  I have tried several bottles of each wine.

$90 93 points

Chateau Nenin 2005 Pomerol

Blend: 74% Merlot, 26% Cabernet Franc

Alcohol: 14.2%

Most reviews of this wine suggest big fat tannins, monster tannins and a rich concentration of black fruit.  I didn’t taste this earlier on, and in fact the wine had a few years in the bottle by the time I tried it.  I found the tannins to be a lot more subtle than I expected.  The fruit was deliciously integrated with a Thyme like spice to it.  Very smooth. Pair this wine with Prime Filet Mignon (tenderloin) Wine Enthusiast 91 points, Wine Advocate 92 points, Wine Spectator 93 points. Weekly Wine Journal rating…93 points

Price: $90.  Pricing on this wine is all over the map, but generally if you were to walk into a retail store you could expect to pay around $90.  Online prices vary.

$125 91-93 points "La Reserve"

Clos l’Eglise 2006 “La Reserve”

Blend: 80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc

Price: $140.  Once again prices vary, generally between $90-$150 online

Production: 2,300 cases

“The wine is made according to traditional methods. It is for this reason that Sylviane Garcin-Cathiard chose wooden vats for Clos L’Eglise. Each batch is treated separately in a thermostat-regulated vat of 60 hl. Manual pigeage has been re-introduced; the pulp and mass of skins, known as chapeau, floats to the top during fermentation and is punched down manually several times a day. The wine is left in fermenting vats for a long time, and malolactic fermentation is carried out in 100% new barrels. Ageing lasts between 16 to 18 months depending on the vintage.” -Winemaker

VERY interesting thing to note about this particular wine:  This wine is the result of a collaboration between the winery and Gary Vaynerchuk.  He helped with the blending and as a result wine library is the exclusive retailer of this wine in the United States. This is not the exact same wine as the regular Clos l’Eglise Pomerol as evidenced by the difference in labelling.

"Regular Clos l'eglise pomerol"

This wine is the bigger and bolder of the two.  Right now, it is still fairly young.  The tannins are edgy and grippy, like cinnamon but there is definitely a great concentration of fruit and terroir to pull it through.  Cedar spice and black currants and the finish goes on forever.  Pair this wine with a Prime New York Strip.  The tannins will work well with the texture of this particular cut of meat. Weekly Wine Journal rating: 93 points

While both of these wines are well out of the budget for the average casual consumer of wine, I think that once you make the decision to go deep, to spend some big bucks and take your wine to the next level, these are two wines that won’t disappoint.

Central Coast Chardonnay roundup #1 | Mer Soleil | Layer Cake | Chalone

Wines reviewed in this article:  Mer Soleil Silver 2008|Layer Cake 2009 Virgin Chardonnay|Chalone 2009 Monterey

Photo courtesy of Ben Ladouceur

While many parts of North America are still in the grip of winter I have been preparing for spring and summer by tasting Chardonnay.  That way, when everyone else finally thaws out ( I live in Phoenix ) they will already have some Chardonnay “inception” on the brain.  Let’s get started!

The vast Central Coast region of California  stretches 250 miles from Santa Barbara County all the way up to San Francisco .  The massive region encompasses 6 Counties and 26 different sub A.V.A’s (American Viticultural Area).  There are more than 90,000 acres of vines planted in the Central Coast and about half those acres are Chardonnay.  One of those sub AVA’s is The Santa Lucia Highlands which is located  about 30 miles east of Monterey, California overlooking  the Salinas valley, the same Salinas valley made famous in many of John Steinbeck’s novels.

2008 Mer Soleil Silver

Mer Soleil Vineyard is located on the southern end of the AVA and is named after the influences of the Ocean (Mer) and the Sun (Soleil). The Mer Soleil vineyard is actually part of the Wagner family of wines.  The Wagner family has a very long history of wine making in California, and just in case you still don’t know who they are…have you heard of Caymus? Now we’re talking!

Mer Soleil makes two styles of Chardonnay, oaked, and unoaked (Silver).  Mer Soleil Silver is fermented in cement and stainless steel tanks and does not undergo Malolactic fermentation.  The vineyard subscribes to the agricultural practice of crop rotation and according to the vineyard  nearby lemon orchards is impart their flavor profile of the wines.

Mer Soleil’s website has little to offer in terms of technicals on their wine, so I have no information on total production, brix ect.  But it does let us know a little about the style.  A mix of Chablis like minerality and tropical fruit.   I found the wine to be rich, with solid acidity, and slightly riper than I expected, which was pleasant.  Think lemon and grapefruit.  The wine is dry and has a  nice big mouthfeel.  The alcohol weighs in at a hefty 14.8% but don’t let that scare you, its really well balanced with the fruit and I didn’t detect any off putting “heat” from it.  Mer Soleil Silver retails for around $20 a bottle.

Virgin Chardonnay label Layer Cake

Are you tempted by the cake??

You might have seen Layer Cake’s eye catching label, a nice big slice of layer cake, and you might have been tempted to buy the wine purely on that association and I forgive you for that because I bought their wines for the same reason!  Laker Cake’s 2009 Central Coast “Virgin” Chardonnay’s fruit is sourced from two vineyards within the Central Coast AVA; Monterey and Santa Barbara.

Layer Cake’s  Chardonnay is quite different than Mer Soleil’s Silver even though both are unoaked.  The first thing you will notice is the difference in alcohol content, with the Virgin Chardonnay coming in at a refreshingly light 13.5%.  The wine is lighter on the palate, with less minerality though it still retains enough to make it interesting.  The fruit is more lime and pineapple than grapefruit.  This wine retails for $13.99 and was provided to me as a sample for review

Chalone Chardonnay bottleChalone Vineyard 2009 Monterey Chardonnay.  Chalone Vineyard Estate is the oldest winery in Monterey County, and is the only winery in the Chalone AVA.  Chalone received international critical acclaim in the Judgment of Paris, 1976 earning 3rd spot out of 10.   As different as Layer Cake was to Mer Soleil, Chalone is to both of those wines.  Chalone makes wine very much in the French, Burgundian style.  The grapes are sourced from the northern portion of the Salinas Valley, in the Arroyo Seco AVA.  The soil consists largely of limestone which gives us a clue to the Burgundian connection.  By “Burgundian” I mean terroir or specific place driven wine as apposed to producer driven wine such as Bordeaux.  Chalone’s Monterey Chardonnay is also relatively light when compared to the typical Chardonnays of Napa Valley, the alcohol comes in at 13.5%   This wine, in contrast to the other two, saw 6 months in a combination of French, American and European oak.  Light on the oak, but enough to soften the crispness of the mountain fruit a little, as well as add another layer of complexity not found in the other two wines.  This wine retails for around $10 which is actually an amazing deal.

These three wines should keep you busy with variety for at least a weekend.  Next week I will have 3 more Chardonnays for your consideration


Wine Review | Cameron Hughes Lot 197, 2008 Merlot, Napa Valley

Disclaimer:  I was given a signed bottle as a gift, by Jessica Hughes, who clearly states that I ROCK!

Alrighty then, with that technical matter out of the way lets get down to business.

Napa Valley Merlot

It's official: I rock

Lot 197 hails from the Carneros area of Napa Valley, although it does not state this on the label, Cameron mentions it on his website.  Production for this wine is a miniscule 518 cases and the wine retails for $12 a bottle.

Though I would not call myself a big Merlot drinker, this is definitely a Merlot I could get used to.  It is a big monster of a Merlot, with alcohol coming in at a whopping 15.3%.   A big whiff reveals a bit of an alcoholic burn in the nostrils, but that is nicely evened out by the aromas of red berry fruit.  On the palate this wine is ripe, which has more to do with the alcohol % than sugar.  The palate consists of ripe black cherry and chocolate.   The alcohol content is certainly going to be an issue for some people, and it usually is for me, but this wine is an exception.  The fruit and the smooth tannins, really play well with the alcohol which enhances the aromatics as well.  And for $12 it’s definitely a deal.  I paired this wine with a tomato based pasta sauce seasoned with cayenne.  The heat of the sauce really played well against the ripeness of the wine.

Rating: 89 points