Today's Sponsors
 The California Wine Club
Mention today's Wine Advisor and get three bottles for the price of two in your first shipment. Call 1-800-777-4443 or visit
99 FedEx on $99+ Orders!

In This Issue
 Fruit bomb! A short dissertation on why some wine enthusiasts don't necessarily regard an extremely fruity wine as entirely a good thing.
 Sexto 2004 Terra Alta ($9.99) Fruit-forward raspberry cordial dominates the nose and palate of this modest Spanish red. It's good, though.
Administrivia Change E-mail address, frequency, format or unsubscribe.

 Learn about our RSS Feed

Fruit bomb!

With its snarky evocation of bomb-throwing anarchists, the wine-tasting term "fruit bomb" is rarely meant as a compliment. It's generally used dismissively to slam a wine utterly dominated by fruit.

Now, just as I did Wednesday after gently dissing White Zinfandel and then feeling a need to 'splain myself, let's take on the obvious follow-up question: What in the heck is wrong with wine tasting like fruit? Isn't wine really just grape juice, after all?

In all fairness, a wine dominated by forward fruit flavors can be delicious, particularly in summertime when a light chill is warranted even on a red. Fairness also requires the acknowledgement that some of the wines I snub as "fruit bombs" are highly rated by Robert M. Parker Jr. and Wine Spectator.

So what's the matter with that? The problem for me comes down to the simple word "balance." The best wines - and "best" need not translate to "expensive" - maintain a desirable balance between fruit and acidity. Fruit is important, but so is the acidity that provides it structure, not to mention the subtle complexity, minerality and terroir that render a good wine multi-dimensional.

Simply put, if good wine is like orange juice freshly squeezed from fruit just plucked from the tree, a fruit bomb is the moral equivalent of cheap supermarket juice-in-the-box.

But there are fruit bombs, and then there are fruit bombs. There's no denying the enjoyment of a wine that's distinctly fruit-forward and built on a decent acidic structure. Today let's take a look at a modestly priced Spanish red that qualifies by both criteria. Sexto ("Sixth") is a new offering from the San Francisco-based wine negoçiant Laely Heron, whose Heron line of wines have become popular restaurant pours.

Sexto is a blend of six, count 'em, six grape varieties from Spain's Terra Alta region, a mountainous region in Catalonia not far from the more highly regarded Priorat.

Five of the varieties are familiar: Grenache (33%), Carignan (30%), Tempranillo (20%), Cabernet Sauvignon (6%) and Syrah (5%). The sixth grape is a variety so obscure that, if you're a varietal-wine "collector," it's worth the price of admission just so you can say you've tried it: Lledoner Pelut Noir. Also called "Garnatxa Peluda" ("Hairy Grenache") in Catalonia, this variety is known, if not widely grown, on both sides of the Pyrenees, in eastern Spain and in the Languedoc-Roussilon wine region of France.

Probably a first cousin of Grenache, it's said to be mixed in with regular Grenache in some of the best Catalonian vineyards, reportedly including Alvaro Palacios's exalted Priorat L'Ermita. Distinguished by its "hairy" (well, fuzzy, anyway) leaves, its fruit doesn't seem to be that much different from Grenache. Wine maker Heron declares that it's this "sixth" grape that makes Sexto special, but be that as it may, the fresh and very forward raspberry character of this blend says "Grenache" to me.

It's a fruit bomb, yes. But a good one.

It's available only in French, but grape geeks will find it worth trying to muddle through a translation for the information on this short page (with photos) about Lledoner Pelut:

Sexto Sexto 2004 Terra Alta ($9.99)

Very dark garnet. Raspberry cordial, fruit-forward and ripe. Juicy raspberry flavor, bright and full; although it's undeniably a "fruit bomb," it's elevated by fresh, mouth-watering acidity and the substantial body that 13.5 percent alcohol provides. U.S. importer: Heron Wines, San Francisco. (July 27, 2006)

FOOD MATCH: So fruity you can enjoy it as an aperitif, fine with burgers or steaks. The combination of fruit and acidity made it a pleasant match with a simple summer dish of spaghetti with a quick sauce made of tomatoes fresh from the garden, topped with a hearty ration of grated Pecorino Romano cheese.

VALUE: It's a good buy at this price if you love brash, fruit-forward wines, and a decent summer exception even if you don't. For offbeat-variety collectors, it's worth the toll just to add the obscure Lledoner Pelut Noir to your life list.

WHEN TO DRINK: Simple and very, very fruity, this wine invites drinking while it's young and fresh. I'd finish it up over the next year or so.

The Sexto Website offers quite a bit of information about the wine, including tech sheets, tasting notes and background on importer Laely Heron.

The Sexto Website lists wholesale distributors in many states of the U.S. Although distributors can't sell direct to the public, they should be willing to provide you information on retail sources in your community.
There's limited information about Sexto vendors and prices on

To read and comment on today's column in our non-commercial WineLovers Discussion Group, click:

Today's article is cross-posted in our Netscape WineLovers Community, where we also welcome comments and questions.

To contact me by E-mail, write I'll respond personally to the extent that time and volume permit.

Here's a simply formatted copy of today's Wine Advisor, designed to be printed out for your scrapbook or file or downloaded to your PDA or other wireless device.

 30 Second Wine Advisor, daily or weekly (free)
 Wine Advisor FoodLetter, Thursdays (free)

For all past editions, click here


For information, E-mail


To subscribe or unsubscribe from The 30 Second Wine Advisor, change your E-mail address, or for any other administrative matters, please use the individualized hotlink found at the end of your E-mail edition. If this is not practical, contact me by E-mail at, including the exact E-mail address that you used when you subscribed, so I can find your record.

We do not use our E-mail list for any other purpose and will never give or sell your name or E-mail address to anyone. I welcome feedback, suggestions, and ideas for future columns. To contact me, please send E-mail to

All the wine-tasting reports posted here are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores and accept no samples, gifts or other gratuities from the wine industry.

Friday, July 28, 2006
Copyright 2006 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

Subscribe to the 30 Second Wine Advisor

Wine Advisor archives