14 January 2013

Darkhorse Wines

I tried a lot of wines over the holidays--so many that will probably be February before I'm fully caught up. It's tempting to do a huge laundry list of reviews, but there's no easy grouping by style or region. So I'll continue on in the slow and steady fashion to which I've become accustomed.

Darkhorse Wine is a new label from Gallo. I brought these two wines to Christmas lunch with Julia's family, and in a long conversation with a craft beer enthusiast cousin I got to use the bottles as branding examples. It's an odd part of the business when one of the biggest and most powerful wine companies in America bottles so much wine under different names. As I type this I'm relaxing with a martini made with New Amsterdam gin, another product of the Modesto powerhouse.

The Darkhorse wines are bargain table wines made by Beth Liston, aimed at the casual wine market and sold at Trader Joe's.

2010 Darkhorse Chardonnay
Central Valley, California
100% Chardonnay
$8, 13.5% abv.

Bright fruit flavors of apricot and peach, with lots of vanilla and caramel. A little heavy on the oak, but not bad for the price. Worked out pretty well with ham and turkey and assorted holiday side dishes.

2010 Darkhorse Cabernet Sauvignon
Central Valley, California
100% Chardonnay
$8, 13.5% abv.

Black cherry and cocoa, with a little tobacco. This one surprised me--it's not as balanced or complex as I like in a Cabernet Sauvignon, but again, at eight dollars it's entirely drinkable and pleasant.

Both of these wines deliver upon the promise of a table wine: inexpensive, inoffensive, and with short finishes. Sometimes, that's the perfect style of wine, like for a party or wedding reception or other large event. Also, these would be great to grab for cooking or cocktail purposes (like making twin batches of white and red sangria). We don't have a Trader Joe's in Memphis (and our grocery stores don't sell wine anyway), but I'd have no problem snagging a bottle along with some premade guacamole and other goodies.

Note: These wines were received as samples.


Anonymous said...

First time I had it was at my son's wedding....... EXCELLENT. Glad to know I can buy more at Trader Joes

Anonymous said...

We got a bottle from Trader Joe's for more like $12. We found that the first impression wasn't great, but then in the second taste you get a nice salty carmel oaky flavor that is so direct that it seems manipulated. It has buttery and oaky flavors that some people like in Chardonnay but so much so that it doesn't really taste like a Chard anymore, it almost borders on a bourbon tinge. It seems artificially manipulated to achieve that flavor rather than having those flavors naturally from the grapes and oak barrels.

Anonymous said...

I bought a bottle of the Chardonnay and on my first tast I could definitely detect the caramel and apple flavors. I do have to agree with the above comment regarding bordering on a bourbon tinge...as I thought to myself that it almost tasted like a mixed drink and a little strong. I have had other Chard's that are more milder and smooth, however, other's may prefer it.

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