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.

Petite Sirah, Barbera, Zinfandel
Woody and slightly herbal on the nose with  pencil lead, beef and faint black pepper aromas along with some low black cherry fruit. Big round and chewy in the mouth, this has a nicely chunky feel with rich black fruits and integrated wood spice in the mouth. theres a nice brambly accent to the black cherry fruit here along with a touch of pepper all highlighted by bright acidity which really drives the cherry fruit on the moderately long finish. A little bit on the fruity side but the solid acidity helps keep this from feeling too sweet. 87pts
Zinfandel 52% - Petite Sirah 46% - Mourvèdre 2%
Vanilla and blackberry jam greet the nose in a very direct way followed by hints of herb and carob along with sweet roasted plum fruit. This is soft and mouth coating with fine grained wood tannins that work their way into the crevasses of one’s mouth. A bit fat and fairly fruit with rich black cherry, black plum, and brown sugar flavors on the palate that give way to toasty, vanilla and cinnamon laced stewed cherry fruit on the moderately long and slightly peppery finish. 87pts
Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot
A nice sweet whiff of vanilla oak greets the nose followed by the leafy, herbal black currant fruit of the cabernets and creamy cafe au lait and coconut aromas. A bit sweet in the mouth, and while this has plenty of acidity the sweetness lends it a bit of a fat feel. There’s plenty of rich, and slightly chewy fruit on the palate all supported by supple tannins. The finish is a bit short though with a refreshing reveal of acidity on the finale. A bit of an odd wine, leafy and fresh on the nose then fruity and a bit sweet with plenty of red currant blackberry jam in the mouth, it’s made in a crowd pleasing fruit forward style. 86pts
Malbec, Bonarda, Tempranillo
Low herbal and a bit spicy on the nose with note of blueberries and raspberries competing for one’s attention with some vanilla and wood toast notes.  rather light and bright on entry, then this takes on a bit of weight on the mid-palate where it shows off chunky, plump but not heavy blueberry and blackberry flavors framed in rather obvious but fairly well balanced oak. This turns a bit dry and slightly austere on the finish, which helps to refresh the palate here as the fruit has sufficient staying power to eventually recover the tannins. It’s not fancy but this offers up nice fruit and good structure. I might try this with a slow cooked pork shoulder. 85pts
Cabernet Sauvignon,  Merlot, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah,  Syrah
Fruity and sweet on the nose with plenty of vanilla and dried ginger supporting  candied black cherry, candied black licorice and strawberry-rhubarb compote. Broad and low in the mouth, this has enough acidity to keep it lively in the mouth yet still lacks some energy as it delivers sweet oak infused flavors of cherry jam and candied black cherries on the palate. With drying tannin competing with sweetness on the modest finish this does not invite another sip. A bit rough around the edges. 83pts
Syrah, Zinfandel, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petite Sirah
Sweet and oaky on the nose and yet at the same time this offers up lovely notes of herb inflected raspberry fruit framed but note of bitter greens and tarragon and mint. A bit heavy in the mouth but smooth as felt without a hint of either tannin nor acid present in the mouth. A bit heavy but not chewy, this does deliver plenty of gently spiced black cherry, earthy plum and slightly meaty flavors with a hint of black olive on the palate. The finish is a bit short and does turn a bit chewy and extracted. I can see the appeal here,  it’s a remarkably smooth and easy drinking wine with an attractive flavor profile and reasonable complexity but it does lack some life in the mouth and particularly on the finish which has an underlying bitterness. 82pts

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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 5,601

    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 756

    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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