The theme of this tasting was red blends. Some surprising ones here, but due to the weird combinations of grapes I had a difficult time picking out individual varietals.
Wine 1: Fox Creek "Vixen" Sparkling Shiraz-Cabernet Franc NV. McLaren Vale, Australia. Also containing Cabernet Sauvignon, this is an unusual little wine--dry with low tannins and crisp bubbles. A bit tart. I haven't the foggiest as to what I'd serve with it. $19.
Wine 2: 2004 La Bamba Red Blend. Argentina. No website found. I was surprised at the delicate nature of this wine, particularly after finding out what's in it--a blend of Bonarda, Sangiovese, and Tempranillo. There's a chance that in this blind tasting, a bottle was misnumbered, because this really tasted like a Grenache blend. Whatever it was, this would go great with pork chops and baked apples. $8.
Wine 3: 2002 Vega Sindoa Cabernet Sauvignon-Tempranillo. Spain. Another wine without a website, but here's a brief review. A 60%/40% blend of the above grapes. I honestly thought that this was a Bordeaux-style blend, and it was easily my favorite of the bunch. Warm with complex aromas on top--I didn't get everything in the review, but it's a better wine than the price or grapes would suggest. $10.
Wine 4: Rosenblum Cuvee XXVII NV. California. Mostly Zinfandel with a good dose of Petite Sirah and splashes of other unnamed reds. Dry, and relatively well balanced. Not a bad table red. $13.
Wine 5: 2003 Hedges CMS Red. Columbia Valley, Washington. A nearly Bordeaux blend, this is about half and half Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot with splashes of Cabernet Franc and Syrah. Big tannins on the start but a short finish. Fruit is subtle. Probably better in a year or so, but still a good bargain. $13.
Wine 6: 2002 Grant Burge Grenache-Syrah-Mourvèdre. Barossa Valley, Australia. The Syrah was pretty strong in this, with heavy black cherry and pepper flavors. Tannins are huge, but this wine appears to be made for aging. $30.
Wine 7: 2003 Château Mont-Redon Côtes du Rhône Rouge. France. A solid CDR, dry with firm tannins and some light fruit underneath. (I think a lot of these would be better with food.) Interesting substitution of Cinsault for Mourvèdre. $15.
Wine 8: 2002 Château Fleur de Rigaud Bordeaux Superieur Cuvée Prestige. France. The only real Bordeaux out of the bunch, I'm guessing it's a small place--no direct info online, and most references to it tend to be from other places in Europe. Vegetal nose with a crisp flavor. Picked out the Cabernet Franc from a mile away. Good bargain Bordeaux, but might need some time. $19.
Wine 9: 2002 Tibor Gál Egri Bikavér. Eger, Hungary. First Hungarian wine I've had, to my knowledge. This is a combination of Kefrankos, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Syrah, and Kadarka. Side note: the winemaker died earlier this year in a car accident in South Africa. The name of the wine means bull's blood". Despite that name, I found it very light and refreshings, with light tannins and a bright berry flavor. Love the labyrinth label. $15.
Wine 10: 2000 Mas de Gourgonnier Réserve du Mas Rouge. Provence, France. Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Syrah. Firm tannins and dark fruit with a touch of leather. Almost Italian tasting. $24.
Wine 11: Cain Cuvée NV2. Napa Valley, California. Half Merlot, one quarter each Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, combined over two years. Oaky and tannic, definitely an interesting one. Not sure if it's my cup of tea, but I'd like to try it again in a year. $30.
Wine 12: 2001 Allegrini Palazzo del Torre. Verona, Italy. A combination of Corvina, Rondinella, and Sangiovese. Dry with a mild beggining and strong finish, like a lot of Italian reds it really needs good food to fully appreciate it. $23.