Gregory Dal Piaz

Location: New York, NY

Top Red Blends Under $20

Rank Wine Rating Price
1 Pendulum Red Blend Columbia Valley Red Table Wine (2010)
Comments: Sweet and brambly on the nose with scents of wild blackberries, fresh herbs, twizzlers and some spiced cranberry jelly. Focused, taut and vibrant in the mouth, this has lovely freshening acidity and pliant tannins that support rich, fresh and lively red currant and slightly jammy strawberry fruit in the mouth. The fruit shows good transparency, picking up herbal nuances, chocolate, and soft red cherry fruit on the back end before returning a rather vivid red currant-and-herb-laced finish that reveals a finely judged underlay of raw oak on the long, succulent finish. Dry, fresh, delicious and an excellent value. 89pts
Average price: $17.49 from 7 stores
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2 Antiyal Kuyen Red (2010)
Comments: Hugely intense aromas jump from the glass, full of exotic fruits like mango, guava, pomegranate and mulberry all held together with a thread of herbal spice. On entry this is tighter and less fleshy than one might expect from the nose, with a really attractive core of violet tinged black plum and mulberry fruit. This lacks the exoticism found on the nose but shows really fine balance with fine grained tannins and integrated acidity supporting the fresh fruit that is underlain with soft earthy and herbal nuances. The finish throws a bit of chocolate and cedar into the mix, and shows fairly good length. This is lovely, easy to drink yet both subtle and complex. 88pts
Previously available for $16.99
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3 Gordon Brothers Kamiak Rock Lake Red (2007)
Comments: Funky on the nose with plenty of hints of truffle, game, and pencil eraser over plummy, dried berry, black cherry and herb laced fruit. A bit plump on entry, but with plenty of acidity to keep this focused in the mouth. There's plenty of truffle and black currant fruit right on entry, then it lightens up a bit and reveals a bit more detail with raspberry and cranberry flavors emerging along with a gamy, beefy edge on the back end. The fruit is clear and persistent on the finish which still shows some tannin and a hint of peppery spice but leaves the palate refreshed, if a touch hot. This is an excellent value. 88pts
Previously available for $11.54
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4 Duck Pond Red Blend Wahluke Slope Red Blend (2009)
Comments: Fairly oak at first sniff but lurking under the veneer of wood lies some attractive herbal notes and spicy, fresh black fruits. Bright and rather taut on entry with lovely black plum skin fruit that plays off the nuanced oak spice of the palate. Blackberries and black currants join in on the mid-palate with some dusty cinnamon notes, and a feathery edge of dried herbs all lead to a moderately long, lightly spicy and freshly fruited finish that shows a touch of heat. A bit unusual but a lovely combination of fruit and strictness in the mouth. 88pts
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5 Lock & Key Meritage (2009)
Comments: Fairly complex on the nose with macerated herb notes embedded in sweet cherry fruit all wrapped up in tree bark, old wood and medicinal notes. Fairly nice on entry, this exhibits a nice balance between the structural component and richness of fruit and manages that richness without becoming sticky or heavy, or even overly fruity for that matter. There's a nice wash of lightly brambly fruit on entry, then balanced notes of currants, black cherry, vanilla and nutty oak compete for attention. The finish is much the same if perhaps a bit sweeter with that sweetness balanced by some bitterness from the wood tannins. Not showy, this is modestly complex and feels fresh and clean on the palate. The hint of bitterness on the finish is attractive to me, though it may be off-putting to some. 87pts
Average price: $16.99 from 4 stores
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6 Rhiannon California (2010)
Comments: Fairly intense on the nose with plenty of red fruits, raspberries and red currants, over a base of smoky, toasty, lead pencil oak. A pleasant surprise on the palate with a bright, transparent light mouth feel. There's a fair amount of oak, lightly toasty and adding plenty of vanilla to the palate, but at the same time this does show nice red berry fruit and red plum skin flavors. The tannins are relatively unobtrusive on the palate, with a juicy acidity, but the mocha tinged finish highlights a little wood tannin, as the fruit lacks some persistence. This is fun and easy to drink. 87pts
Average price: $16.99 from 1 store
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7 Waterbrook Melange Red Varietal Blend (2010)
Comments: Spicy on the nose with early hints of fennel and bitter chocolate being joined by a bit of char, some fresh herb notes, black currants and lots of toasty oak. This enters the mouth with classic medium-bodied balance. A bit tight at the moment, with lovely balance between the slightly herbal and savory, almost leathery fruit that's sprinkled with a touch of peppery spice and the gentle black currant and plum fruit. The texture is smooth and held together well by the polished tannins and adequate acidity. Chocolate and herbs pop on the back end and linger on the finish along with wild black cherry jam that sits just beneath some spicy oak shavings. While this is fine today, it's more a wine of texture right now and remains a bit simple, though this could improve in the cellar. 87pts
Previously available for $15.00
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8 Château Haut Terrasson Bordeaux Supérieur (2010)
Comments: Very fresh on the nose with herb and raw oak aromas adding some detail to red currant, raspberry and plum fruit. There's an herbal perfume to this that precedes the first sip, adding a lovely counterpoint to the red currant and red cherry fruit that the wine offers up. The light vanilla and cocoa nuances on the palate add a touch of perceived sweetness here, though the oak and some earthy mushroom notes help to balance that out. This finishes tight and mineral with a bit of tarragon and herb along with fine grained wood tannins underpinning the black currant fruit. A lovely little Bordeaux that should improve over the short term, 2 to 3 years. 87pts
Previously available for $16.99
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9 Xavier Flouret Red Bordeaux Blend Premières Côtes de Blaye Quai Lumiere (2009)
Comments: Rather fruit driven on the nose on the fresh end of the fruit spectrum with attractive notes of red currants and vanilla/strawberry topped with hints of dates, a touch of tarragon, a hint of scorched earth and some well-measured oak spice. Deceptively light on entry, this actually delivers a really nice package of slightly earthy, anise spiced currant fruit on the palate with some firm but fresh tannins and decent acidity. There's more licorice on the back end, where the fruit turns a bit plummy as well before fading away gently on the modest, clean and bright finish. A nicely ripe Bordeaux. 87pts
Previously available for $19.00
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10 Concha Y Toro Cabernet-Syrah Blend Casillero del Diablo (2009)
Comments: Intense and somewhat extracted smelling with deep black currant and jellied black fruit aromas topped with peppery hints of oak spice and tobacco. This enters the mouth with surprising softness, the lowish acidity lends volume to this on the palate but robs it of some of its liveliness. The flavors are deep and fairly intense with earth, tobacco and cocoa streaks running through the intense black currant fruit. The wood pops on the backend with nuanced caramel notes, adding further complexity on the moderately long and drying finish. A lot of wine but a bit heavy and clumsy for my palate. 86pts
Previously available for $21.99
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11 Silver Buckle Cellars Ranchero (2010)
Comments: Oaky and herbal on the nose with lots of vanilla, cinnamon and clove over spicy blueberry and blackberry fruit that shows a brambly edge. This is smooth and round in the mouth, but at the same time it's also quite full and a bit heavy due to the low acidity. The palate shows off deep, earthy oak tones with flashes of herbal elements that recall tomato leaf and something balsamic all wrapped around rather dark mulberry and blackberry fruit. The finish is rather elegant, cedary and slightly tannic, but aromatic and not nearly as heavy as the wine is on the palate. Broadly appealing style. 86pts
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12 Château Timberlay Red Bordeaux Blend Bordeaux Supérieur (2009)
Comments: Oak and herbs greet the nose over some plummy fruit nose and a base of candied fruit and nuts. Very smooth on entry, this is perhaps a touch closed down, though air does reveal nuanced hints of spearmint and leather accenting the dried red cherry and cinnamon dusted apple skins and plum fruit on the palate. The back end shows a little vanilla and some stemmy herb notes that lead to a modest cherry and herb laced finish. A bit of a modern take on Bordeaux. 86pts
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13 Medoc Greysac Wines " Red (2008)
Comments: A touch twiggy on the nose with some fresh rubber sneaker base notes over which one finds lightly perfumed and gently sweet red berry fruit. Still youthful and a touch tight, this shows off attractive black currant and herb flavors that seem to be molded around a sweeter core of cocoa and ripe black and red fruits. The tannins offer a nice firm base for the fruit but remain fully covered by the fruit as well, with acidity that keeps this fresh and bright in the mouth. The finish shows decent length with tangy plum skin flavors and earthy cherry and herb nuances that are fairly persistent with a pop of peppery oak spice on the finale. On the simple side, but a solid little Bordeaux. 85pts
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14 Kendall Jackson Vr Summation Red (2009)
Comments: This smells sweet and fruit with an immediate hit of wild cherry candy and vanilla on the nose that reminds me of cherry coke or something similar. Aromatically monolithic with some oak nuances and a hint of bay leaf emerging with time. Showing decent balance in the mouth, this delivers a nice hit of cherry pie filling with flourishes of cinnamon and bitter chocolate shavings before becoming dominated by dry woody tannins on the backend.The tannins take full control on the short, dry finish. 83pts
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15 Chateau Greysac Medoc France Premier (2007)
Comments: Tight on the nose with notes of raw nuts, fresh oak, and leafy black currant fruit topped with a touch of cigar smoke and tomato leaf. Fresh on the palate, but lacks a bit of depth and flavor on the mid palate. The balance of flavors is attractive, offering up notes of earth, forest floor, black currants, lightly dried herbs and a bit of milky wood on the back end, but lacks some intensity. The finish is short and mostly toasty with some licorice notes. 82pts
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16 Mondavi Napa Reserve Cabernet (2009)
Comments: A touch dull on the nose with aromas of dried dates, apricots and a little vanilla and spice. This is polished and smooth, with some nice tannins and decent acidity, there's even some nice black currant, plum, and chocolate pudding flavors here, but they are very subtle. The fruit pops a bit with some strawberry notes on the back end, along with subtle herb notes, but this sort of evaporates on the finish. Nothing wrong here, this will offend no one but at the same time there is little to set it apart other than the price. 80pts
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