Value Red Blends

Always greater then the sum of their parts?

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

61% Shiraz, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Grenache, 4% Cinsault, 4% Mourvedre, 4% Viognier
Floral offering up both violets and honeysuckle along with a very immediate  apricot note, with the lift of viognier coming through quite strongly and adding a nice accent to mineral and herb inflected, smoky, grilled meat and jammy black fruit aromas.  Powerful and in a way quite fruity though neither sweet nor sticky in the mouth with solid underlying acids. This is a big wine but it remains transparent and lively in the mouth with layers of earthy black plummy and berry tinged fruit framed by a meaty, leathery aspect all supported by noticable but well judged oak spice and tannin. The finish is savory and a perhaps a touch rustic, though long with excellent persistence to the fruit and with the sweet note on the finale that a little viognier can add.  This is really a lovely wine that should appeal to a wide audience. Great steak wine. 91pts
56% Carmenere, 31% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Syrah
Black plums framed with pencil shavings and some fresh herbs and nettles dominate the nose though a nice undercurrent of strawberry-rhubarb compote adds depth and complexity here. Big, smooth and frankly a bit taut in the mouth, this combines richness with grace as it gently floats across the palate. This seems quite young and unevolved with it’s tight core of gentle oak framed black currant and black raspberry fruit that seem to struggle to get noticed today. A streak of vanilla appears on the backend and leads to a long, gently tannic finish that sees fine, fresh black cherry and wild blackberry fruit emerge on the finale. This needs time and is very fine but to a certain extent it’s a texture wine in the way that many of the super tuscans are. It’s a wine of refinement more than anything else.  91pts
60% Cabernet, 30% Merlot, 5% Malbec, 5% Syrah
A bit of sweet oak shares the nose with a nutty toastiness and some blackberry and black currant fruit that has a nice gentle sweet herbal top note. A bit soft in the mouth but more closed feeling that flabby, this has a lovely core of fruit, framed with chocolate there’s a nice pool of slightly dense blackberry fruit on the palate. The tannins are not abundant but they do help add some definition to this in the mouth and there's a subtle savory black olive and leather notes on the backend adding complexity. The finish is a bit dry and austere, adding a bit of gravitas in the mouth. Today this needs a rich steak to help absorb some of the weight but with time this might soften nicely.  88pts
Sangiovese, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon
Softly twiggy and tea like on the nose with gentle undercurrents of oak spice adding some support and sweetness to the red cherry and raspberry aromas. Fairly light bodied in the mouth, this blends good acidity and slightly austere yet modest tannins with a slightly herbal shaded core of red fruit. A touch indistinct perhaps, this gains definition on the backend where fine dry red and black fruit flavors begin to emerge along with a hint of licorice. Dry and a bit short on the finish, this nonetheless invites another sip. A bit understated and with just a shade of elegance to the bright cherry fruit on the finish. This would be lovely with simply grilled lamb chops. 88pts
50% Syrah, 20% Grenache, 10% Mourvedre, 10% Zinfandel, 10% Petite Sirah
Pencil shavings and wood spice, accompanied by a little heat, greet the nose followed by understated and earthy black fruits along with a sweet candied violet floral top note. This is big, black and a bit chewy in the mouth with fairly significant tannins covered by the rich fruit. not particularly my style of wine but I can see the appeal and have to admit to enjoying this for what it offers. There’s well integrated wood here, and while the acidity is not obvious there’s enough of it to keep this from imploding in the mouth allowing it to fill the mouth with rich, chewy , dark blueberry fruit that shows excellent persistence on the long slightly spicy and slightly hot finish. Big, bold but not aggressive, this is going to make many people happy. Serve it with BBQ beef ribs. 88pts
31% Cabernet Sauvignon , 28% Malbec, 27% Merlot, 14% Petit Verdot
Sweet and slightly gamy on the nose with hints of grilled lamb and bitter chocolate framing the core of violet tinged black cherry and black currant fruit that’s topped with a hint of mint and wood spice. Soft and broad on  entry, this lacks a touch of focus in the mouth though it does show attractive black currant and cedary oak flavors with a fine base of wood tannins adding a bit of mouthgrab. The violet tone returns on the back end and make a brief appearance on the finish which is otherwise dominated by the wood tannins, which clip the finish a bit. A bit soft but not sweet. 87pts

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Top Premium Red Blends 7/2013

Ernie Els Big Easy Red (2011)
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Apex Cellars Red Blend the Catalyst (2010)
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Brancaia Supertuscan Blend Toscana IGT Tre (2010)
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Troublemaker Red Blend 3 Paso Robles (NV)
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Tower 15 the Swell Red Blend (2010)
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Rhiannon (2011)
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Bogle Vineyards Red Blend California Phantom (2009)
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Alamos Red Blend (2012)
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  • Snooth User: judgelog
    Hand of Snooth
    34584 867

    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 5,648

    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 757

    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 26

    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

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