Here's a lineup of some relatively new wines from the California producer Tamás Estates. Jeff Lefevere of Good Grape: A Wine Blog has called this style of wine marketing a velocity label, a separate brand with unique marketing targeted toward a specific demographic. In this case, the parent company is the venerable Wente. As he points out, wineries offering bargain versions of their wines is nothing new, but it's usually under the same branding umbrella, with distinctions made using Reserve, Estate, Private Selection, or some other designation for the higher-priced bottles.
The marketing seems to be aimed at the "backpack through Europe" crowd, with talk of touring the world via their wine, passports, and the "Hop on the Bus" slogan. Had a few youth hostel flashbacks while going through it all. The press kit included a trendy messenger bag (see below), as well as a first for me in wine collateral material: a rub-on tattoo, which lasted for about a week on my left bicep.
2008 Tamás Estates Zinfandel
$15, 14.5% abv.
Peanut butter and jelly sandwich: nutty, toasty, and jammy all at the same time. Very mild tannins, and in fact they are almost nonexistent. A quirky but fun Zin that matches up easily with a burger or pizza.
2009 Tamás Estates Pinot Grigio
$12, 13% abv.
This is a pretty standard domestic Pinot Grigio: light and lemony with just enough acidity to get your attention, but overall a very mild profile. Easy drinking, good with pasta salad.
2008 Tamás Estates Double Decker Red
Proprietary blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah and Barbera
$13, 13.5% abv.
Spicy and tannic, it ends up having sort of a simple Chianti-type character. And because of this, I found it a wonderful pairing with a casual dinner of spaghetti and marinara sauce.
In the interest of disclosure with the FTC regarding gifts, the shipment also included a branded promotional messenger bag from Timbuk2. It took me a little while to figure out how it all worked, since it's got more straps and buckles than Victorian lingerie. But I started using it as a laptop bag, and I'm pretty impressed with it. There's a waterproof lining on the inside, as well as various interior zipper compartments, and it's comfortable to wear either slung over one shoulder or across the back.
I'm not really reviewing luggage here, but I thought messenger bags were just for bicyclists and hipsters, and never realized just how handy they could be. Also, despite regular exposure to four different dogs whose fur ranges from white to yellow to red to brown, I didn't have to brush the bag off before I took the photo. Yes, there's some fur caught in the velcro under the main flap, but otherwise it looks respectable when I chuck it in the car or haul it around in public.
Note: These wines were received as samples.