John at Wolfchase Wine & Spirits carries a lot of the Bell wines and I'm slowly working my way through them. One that breaks the standard design is the 2005 Big Guy Red Wine from Bell Wine Cellars in California. The fruit here was sourced from Napa and the Sierra Foothills, and is made up of 35% Merlot, 31% Syrah, 17% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc, 6% Malbec, and 4% Petite Verdot. $20, 14.6% abv, only 521 cases made. According to the fact sheet, the dog pictured on the label is Ty, a Soft-Coasted Wheaten Terrier whose nickname is Big Guy. I chose to photograph it next to Mac, The Roommate's Labrador. Mac recently recovered from a serious illness (note the shaved shoulder, where a bone marrow biopsy was taken), and while he has no interest in wine whatsoever, a dab of peanut butter on the back of a bottle can get him involved pretty quickly.
The wine's a good casual Claret with a big chunk of Syrah in it. It's got a nose of plum, with hints of tobacco and a little green bell pepper. On the tongue it's lush and rich, with strong tannins. Should age well for a couple more years, though when eaten with the recommended grilled meats it drinks well now. I decided to fire up the Weber for the first time this year and enjoy a little flame-kissed ribeye. A little chickpea salad on the side and I was set.