We are going to juxtapose an Old World classic with two bold New World blends!
Cune Rioja Crianza ($13.99) Rioja, Spain From the producer: "The first wine of this winery was named after its initials. At the beginning a red 'clarete' wine was made as a fine wine in the style of the Bordeaux 'Claret' produced by the great chateaux of the Medoc. This wine, formerly known as 'Tercer Año' or '3rd year,' is today called 'Crianza.'
Fermentation in stainless steel tanks at controlled temperatures of grapes from our vineyards in La Rioja Alta. The malolactic fermentation takes place in vats and then the wine is aged in American oak barrels for a year, during which it acquires aromatic balance that characterizes him, as his finesse and overall expression.
Bright cherry colour with some violet nuances. In the nose, red berries aromas remain over the oaky and balsamic notes from its ageing in wood. It shows an elegance in the mouth, yet very lively, with some spice back notes and a very balanced acidity.
Tempranillo: 85% Grenacha Tinta and Mazuelo: 15%."
From me: Very rarely do I bring in a wine that I haven't tried, but I've loved everything else from this company, so I felt it was a safe gamble. I expect bright red fruit mellowed by oak and a smooth journey over the palate. I'm very excited to try this!
Merkin Vineyards Chupacabra ($23.99) Willcox, Arizona From the producer: "The Trickster. The Shape Shifter. The ever elusive shadow who mutates with the Sun and Moon. One year a Dragon, another a Snake. This is our Mystery blend. Think forest, not trees. Think weather, not rain. Stare, and the CHUPACABRA, who dwells in your heart and not in your head, will vanish. Only a true Alchemist can draw holy blood from a stone, and the CHUPACABRA is our opus, our phoenix, our church, our child.
Chupacabra is our Shape Shifter Kitchen sink Blend from the Buhl Memorial Vineyard in the Kansas Settlement of Cochise County, AZ. And in previous years, Luna Rosa Vineyard in New Mexico. (2012-2013) The blend changes from year to year depending on where our Alchemistic inclinations lead us but is usually rooted in French/Alsatian varietals. 4300 ft. elevation
40% Grenache, 40% Syrah, 20% Mourvedre"
From me: I swear that first paragraph is actually written on this bottle of wine. Perhaps it helps to know that the winemaker is Maynard Keenan, a singer (Tool, A Perfect Circle), a songwriter, and a musician. He knows a good turn of phrase. Unlike some celebrity "winemakers," though, he really is a winemaker who knows a good wine. I was skeptical about Arizona wine, but this is really delicious, bold, smooth, and completely unexpected.
Leviathan Red Blend ($49.99) North Coast, California From the producer: "The Leviathan wine is a red blend created afresh each vintage, sourced from some of the most coveted vineyards in California. Each year, a percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc are blended together to produce a singular wine, showcasing all the best characteristics of the vintage.
37% Cabernet Sauvignon 32% Syrah 24% Merlot 7% Cab Franc
Aromatics of cigar box, brambly fruit and cacao jump from the glass. The palate gives way to a balanced expression of black cherries and anise, with savory tannins and a full, lingering finish. Enjoy now or cellar through 2023."
From me: Appropriately named, this is a giant of a wine. Bold, smooth, juicy, smoky, long-lasting, it will give your mouth a wild ride. Everything you could want from a big wine and more!
1. Taste with as clean a palate as possible. Try to avoid smoking or chewing gum just beforehand. If you have just eaten, drink some water to clear the flavors of the meal.
2. Keep an open mind. Try new things! We all get into ruts when it comes to our palates, but the fun of a tasting is that you don't have to commit to the whole bottle. If you don't like what you've tasted, you can spit it out.
3. Spit or swallow--it's up to you! Just make sure you use the spittoon!
4. See, swirl, smell, sip, savor. Give attention to all aspects of the wine. Here are a couple of links that explain the process:
5. Have fun! Wine tasting has an air of elitism around it, but unnecessarily so. Your palate is your own-it's as individual as you are-and the most important part of appreciating good alcohol is knowing what you like and why you like it. You don't have to use fancy words or spend a lot of money on a bottle. As the kids say, you do you!