Value Red Blends

Always greater then the sum of their parts?


Today we are faced with an ever expanding selection of wine we might know little about: Red Blends. We know little about them because it’s sometimes hard to know what’s in one. They are in some respects unfortunate victims of their own success. Their proliferation makes them hard to define, and sometimes hard to compare. Though there is however one thing that holds much of this group together; sweet fruit.
To one extent or another almost all of the wines tasted today seemed to be aiming for an easy drinking, lush and sweetly fruited style. Each choosing their own path of course; and so we begin with a palette of 15 grapes today. We end with a range of styles that seem to have clear audiences. The Apex Cellars Catalyst and Ernie Els Big Easy for those looking for power based on structure for example, or the Troublemaker B6 for those just looking for power.
Related video

Showcasing four very different red blends in the $15 to $20 price range that are great options for this summer.

In a way it makes it challenging to compare. For starters the main grape is different in each of three, Grenache, Syrah, or Cabernet depending on the wine. Even more importantly, the people behind each wine seem to have divergent and clearly defined goals here. My lumping them together  is sheerly out of necessity. To some extent I always try and keep in mind intent when assessing a wine, but my biases probably come through and hopefully are well detailed in my notes. For the most part these big reach blends just fall outside of my consumption zone.
Still there was a lot to like here, and wines like this do as well with grilled meats as they will with stews and braises in the cooler months so you should be taking a look at them. Ultimately what they seem to want to offer is more power and richness than you’ll typically find at this $13 to $22 ish price point. You seem to sacrifice some definition and freshness in the mouth for that power, but there are plenty of people who really enjoy this style so expect to see new examples hitting the shelves monthly. Maybe next year I’ll be able to   have three separate red blend tastings at this price point based on dominant varietal, but until then it looks like I might be tasting kitchen sink style more often.
One final note. There was a ringer in this case of wines. A wine that is more than double the price of the other wines, but since it falls outside the parameters of the wines I am discussing, I’m not discussing it; I have not included the note below though it is on the following page. 

1 2 3 next

Top Premium Red Blends 7/2013

Fess Parker Syrah the Big Easy (2011)
List It
Apex Cellars Red Blend the Catalyst (2010)
List It
Brancaia Supertuscan Blend Toscana IGT Tre (2010)
List It
Troublemaker Hope Winery (NV)
List It
Tower 15 the Swell Red Blend (2010)
List It
Rhiannon Red Blend Cal (2011)
List It
Bogle Vineyards Red Blend California Phantom (2009)
List It
Alamos Red Blend (2012)
List It

Mentioned in this article


  • Snooth User: judgelog
    Hand of Snooth
    34584 868

    Good article and I have had a number of these. A couple more that I would add to the list that I think are great values:

    Tormaresca Neprica - 40% Negroamaro, 30% Primitivo and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon from Puglia, Italy. - About $10

    Raymond Field Blend - Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel, and Petite Sirah - about $12

    Jul 25, 2013 at 2:01 PM

  • Snooth User: Lazlo
    1315413 24

    Agree with the Tprmaresca Neprica -- I buy it by the case.

    Jul 25, 2013 at 3:10 PM

  • Snooth User: Lazlo
    1315413 24

    Also a really good deal on a "red" is "the original Darkhorse" cabernet out of Modesto, California. I'm not normally a fan of really young cabs, but was very pleasantly surprised by this one. It tastes of black cherry, brown spice and has a very interesting finish of dark chocolate expresso. You can get it at Trader Joe's for less than $10. I liked it enough to return and buy a case.

    Jul 25, 2013 at 3:29 PM

  • Snooth User: lolo77
    1324031 16

    There is a few Moroccan Red blends that have appear lately in California that are really great too with some Cab/Grenache blends and Cab/Merlot/Syrah blends i recently tasted.
    Good stuff at great prices too about $14.

    Jul 25, 2013 at 3:54 PM

  • Snooth User: EMark
    Hand of Snooth
    847804 8,296

    The last few months I have been buying an Italian Sangiovese/Merlot blend called Badiola at Costco for $10. Very good stuff.

    Lolo, are you saying that there are wines from Morocco that have been appearing in California? Can you share the names.

    I can't criticize Greg for his food/wine pairing, but, FWIW, I have enjoyed California Nebbiolos with Moroccan food.

    Jul 25, 2013 at 4:51 PM

  • Snooth User: Zuiko
    Hand of Snooth
    540750 839

    The fairly rare Columbia Crest Grand Estates Amitage red blend 2009 is a winner-- rich, complex and affordable. I gave it a 90.

    Jul 26, 2013 at 11:52 AM

  • Snooth User: Heidi Witherspoon
    Hand of Snooth
    1120563 30

    The Apex Catalyst is a STEAL! I work for the parent company and taste a LOT of wines and can tell you that this is -the unicorn- in stellar wine for the $! Snap it up while there is any remaining.

    Jul 26, 2013 at 12:36 PM

  • Snooth User: lolo77
    1324031 16


    I think it goes by Moroccan Red Blend (Cab/Grenache) and Medaillon (Cab/Merlot/Syrah).
    I have seen it around in LA and K&L had a Moroccan Red Blend too.

    Jul 30, 2013 at 4:10 PM

  • Don't hear much about Meritage these days. Has it lost its utility in today's world?

    Aug 06, 2013 at 8:04 AM

Add a Comment

Search Articles

Best Wine Deals

See More Deals

Snooth Media Network