This article was published in The 30 Second Wine Advisor on Friday, Apr. 6, 2007 and can be found at http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor2/tswa20070406.php.
Another year, another REDS
As I've pointed out before, you don't have to be a high-end collector to enjoy the pleasure of following a favorite wine from one vintage to the next, taking note of the variations that weather and wine making bring to each new vintage.
As much a sign of the wheel of the seasons as the first green buds of springtime, the arrival of an old favorite with a new year on the label - and the anticipation of opening a bottle to see what's familiar and what's new - offers one of the simpler pleasures of wine appreciation.
So it is with today's featured wine, a modest item that I've been following for well over a decade now, is Laurel Glen "REDS," a wine made in the spirit of old California field blends by my old pal Patrick Campbell of Sonoma Mountain, a thoughtful gent who I like to describe as "winemaker-philosopher."
From Laurel Glen Sonoma Mountain Cabernet and Counterpoint through his Argentine import Terra Rosa (featured in the March 16, 2007 Wine Advisor) to the $10 REDS at the low end, Campbell's portfolio offers something to love at just about every price point.
REDS, which launched in 1994, has varied in its exact composition and style over the years, but it is almost always a blend of Zinfandel and Rhone-style varieties. In recent years its fruit has been sourced from Lodi in the Sacramento Delta, a rising wine region that Campbell calls "The California Heartland." Usually a blend of old-vines Zinfandel and Carignane with a little Petite Syrah, it adds a bit of extra Syrah and Petite Syrah in the 2005 vintage.
This year's blend (40 percent 60-year-old Zinfandel, 25 percent 117-year-old Carignane and 35 percent younger Syrah and Petite Sirah) confers complexity and ripe California fruit. Nine months in French and American oak adds a touch of warm spice that accents the fruit without overwhelming it. It's a rich, smooth wine that carries its hefty 14.5 percent alcohol well. At $10 or so, it's a value that's mighty hard to beat.
Laurel Glen 2005 REDS Lodi Red Wine ($9.99)
This is a dark reddish-purple wine, almost black at the center. Fresh, fruit-centered aromas of red and black plums, cherries and berries add a warm note of spice. Full, ripe and juicy fruit flavors are well structured by fresh-fruit acidity and warm 14.5% alcohol. Fresh cherry-berry scents linger in a long finish. Recent vintages from Lodi seem a bit more New World than the original rustic Euro-style of this California field blend, but it remains an amiable, fresh and reasonably complex table red and a very fine value. (April 5, 2007)
FOOD MATCH: This hearty, earthy red was made to go with a juicy, medium-rare slice of roast leg of lamb; it's a natural with just about any roasted or grilled red meat.
VALUE: Year in and year out, REDS is a perennial entry on my top value list. It's hard to find better wine in the $10 range.
WHEN TO DRINK: Although it's meant for early enjoyment, I think the combination of fruit, balance and palatable tannins under a sturdy modern screw cap suggest that this wine will hold well for a few years in the cellar or on the wine rack.
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Terroirs of Burgundy with Robin Garr
What wine lover hasn't dreamed of touring this great wine region, meeting its wine makers, learning about its wines and dining in its characteristic restaurants and bistrots? Burgundy is one of the world's greatest wine regions but also one of the most difficult to learn. Its patchwork of tiny vineyards is intriguing, but almost bewilderingly complicated. There's no better way to learn Burgundy than being there, touring the wine roads, visiting historic producers like the pictured Clos de Vougeot, and tasting with a trusted guide.
Now, with the respected wine-touring company French Wine Explorers, we've crafted a special, once-in-a-lifetime Terroirs of Burgundy tour aimed at thrifty, value-seeking wine lovers.
If you've long dreamed of learning Burgundy and its wines with an expert at hand but thought you couldn't possibly afford it, I invite you to consider The Terroirs of Burgundy. I'll be personally leading the July 2-7, 2007 tour, and I promise maximum "bang for the buck."
Interested? Don't delay. The tour is strictly limited to 16 wine lovers, and spaces are filling up. You can review the itinerary and details at http://www.wineloverspage.com/tour/
For more information or to make reservations, send E-mail to email@example.com or call +1-877-261-1500 (toll-free in the U.S. and Canada). And if you would like to discuss this tour with me personally, feel free to write me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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