Have to be honest here; did not like this wine. Tasted like it was concocted in a lab. There are notes of chocolate, dark fruit, but overall any of the natural flavors are masked be a decidedly chemical aftertaste. We returned it. $6.99
Well, it has indeed been a while, ahem, since I last published a post. My very, very bad. No excuses, so no long stories. However, today in a sweat of activity I am writing about a bunch of wines, because I always take a photo and some notes and we can now roll ’em.
Okay , Let’ start with the most expensive one. The 2010 Amarone della Valpolicella. It was recommended to me by one of the staff at Trader Joe’s as being much in the style of Paso Robles, California wines; in other words, a robust, fruit forward wine. It does have these qualities, but it also has that Italian quality of the vines being quite ancient, with a more mature complexity without the heavy alcohol content. It has a lovely nose and of course the dark fruit flavors of dried raisins and black currants, along with a good balance of herb and earth flavors, a strong tannin structure helps the wine sit up straight. This is wonderful with BBQ, meat stews, sausage and also hearty vegetarian dishes. $ 19.99
The 2012 Marchigüe Carménère Reserva from Chile was a nice surprise for a soft red from the Cochagua Valley. If you are unfamiliar with the Carménère grape this is a nice introduction to it. It is similar to Pinot Noir, in that it is lighter but with those good red ripe fruits, red berries and good balance of acidity. I though this one was a great deal at $7.99.
Next there is the family of Green Fin wines which are made form organic grapes, always a plus in my book. My favorite is the Merlot, because it tastes delicious and has some complexity, along with good tannins that are not overpowering. The Red Table Wine is pretty straightforward, kind of like Le Juice de la Grape. Not at all complex. I would cook with this one, something like a Coq au Vin dish. Same goes for the Chardonnay (not pictured) from this brand. They each sell for a mere $3.99.
A good red blend is definitely something to savor and embrace and this 14 Hands Hot to Trot Red Blend fits the bill. It’s just delicious. Really flavorful, full bodied and rich with dark fruits. I really loved this one and have had it twice with much appreciation. It’s smooth yet rich and really well balanced. For $8.99 it is a fantastic deal.
Now for a lovely and affordable Sangiovese, by Grifone. This is a terrific wine, with the mouth watering flavors of ripe pomegranate, cherries and raspberries and violets, alongside a respectable backbone of tannic structure. An unbelievable deal for $3.99.
Rich, ripe berries, spice and wood give aromatic nose. Artful Balance of Syrah, Zin, Cab Sauvignon. Amazingly affordable for such a smooth, full tasting mouth. Long lasting palate silky and great finish. Wine is lovely, clean and delicious. A wine that tastes way more expensive than it is. Loved it. $11.99
At Good Cheap Vino, they say this:”This wine is not nearly as robust and complex as the 2009 Tribunal. I thought it was “hot” upon swallowing which means the alcohol has not been tamed. On the nose, I get white pepper and some red fruit. The wine tastes very young with light red fruit flavors and absolutely no tannins that I can detect. The wine is definitely more acidic than the 2009. The 2010 Tribunal blend: 23% Petite Sirah, 22% Merlot, 21% Syrah, 17% Dolcetto, 10 % Sangiovese, and final 7% is a proprietary grape that for now remains a mystery. Here is the blend for the 2010 Prisoner: 44% Zinfandel, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Syrah, 9% Petite Sirah, 2% Charbono, 1% Grenache with all grapes coming from the Napa Valley. I am anxious to hear what my follow Vintage Tasters think of this wine. I am going to give it 86 points. I gave the 2009 Tribunal a final rating of 89 points. Give the 2010 a try if you have a chance and let our readers know what you think.”
Cheap Wine Finder reviews the Tribunal as well. “The 2010 Tribunal Sonoma County Red is a $9.99 Trader Joe’s exclusive in the US, it is available in Canada and sells for $25 to $28 Canadian. This is a “kitchen sink” blend with the grapes and the percentages changing with each vintage, so if you loved or hated the 2008 or 2009, the 2010 will not be the same. This is a wine produced by the Vintage Wine Estates Group, who own Cosentino, Cartlidge & Browne and a minority stake in Kunde Estates, among other properties. The bottle says the Tribunal Red was “produced and bottled by Tribunal Cellars, Kenwood, California.” That indicates that they fermented at least 75% of the grapes and bottled the wine in Kenwood, but did not grow the grapes, since Kunde Estates is also located in Kenwood, California, it would seem that the Kunde Estate facilities where used to produce this wine. Virtual wineries using the excess production capabilities of actual wineries is a common practice in California. In 2008, when the first vintage of the Tribunal Red was released, there was an internet rumor going around saying that this wine was created to be a replica of Oren Swift’s The Prisoner Red Blend (about $40) and this caused the Tribunal to sell out quickly. I would image that about 95% of the people who purchased the Tribunal Red never heard of The Prisoner, I think the reason the 2008 sold out quickly (also the 2009) is the bottle label, this looks like an expensive bottle of wine. The bottle has a substantial feel to it and the label shows a scene reminiscent of a Victorian children’s book, the graphics were created by Proof Wine Collective who are doing some the best wine artwork going today (also check out the roster of winemakers who are working with them, they are making some of the coolest wines on the market). There currently isn’t any official information available concerning the making of this wine and since rumor has help give this wine a mystique, there might not be any information coming. The alcohol content is 15.1%.
The color is a dark but see-thru ruby red. The nose is cherries and spice, with a little cedar plank and spearmint chewing gum, with a late hit of vanilla pudding. It starts with raspberry and black cherry, French vanilla coffee creamer, Godiva dark chocolate and fresh blueberry, with a slight bite in the back of your mouth from the tannins. So many wines today have their tannins neutered that it is a pleasant change of pace to have a wine that is not afraid to show them. The mid palate brings cassis, blood orange and gingerbread spice. There is a good mix of flavors and textures occurring in the glass, the spice upfront is soft and subtle, while the spice on the mid palate gives a flavor jolt. The finish is somewhat weak compared to the body of the wine, but it does not go away.
The 2010 Tribunal Sonoma County Red is a bargain at $9.99, there are several excellent ten buck Red blends on the shelves today and while most of them tend towards lush and juicy, the Tribunal goes for rich and challenging. This is a wine made to be paired with backyard grilling masterpieces or just popping the top to relax after a long day. Get a couple of bottles now, because it will be gone in 2 or 3 weeks.”
Okay, so now you get the gist. It is a blend and these are not consistent year to year. However, for a $10 dollar wine it is surprisingly good. If you open it and let it breathe for about 45 minutes to an hour, it will mellow and not taste so “hot” on the palate. Also, this is best with food. So find yourself a lovely chicken, or a nice piece of meat (organic please) if vegetarian or vegan, broil or roast some root vegetables with fresh herbs and garlic and the wine will be very nicely behaved.