This article was published in The 30 Second Wine Advisor on Friday, Apr. 29, 2011 and can be found at http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor2/tswa20110429.php.
REDS, again? Didn't I review that wine just about two months ago?
Well, yeah. But I've got a good reason to come back to this long-time personal favorite. Several good reasons, in fact.
First, my Feb. 25, 2011 review featured the 2008 vintage. As it turned out, the 2009 was already in the pipeline, and wine maker Patrick Campbell went out of his way to rush a bottle of the new vintage out to me. Thanks, Patrick!
Second, thanks to a typo in that edition, I managed to confuse the vintage issue further by erroneously referring to the 2009 vintage in my introduction. The tasting note, properly, named it the 2008. (And just to make my embarrassment slightly worse, I pulled from the archives an earlier wine label. Guess what? The label changed in 2008. D'oh!
Third and perhaps most important, when Patrick contacted me to offer a sample of the 2009, he also passed along news about major changes in his wine journey: The owner and originator of Laurel Glen, long one of my favorite California wineries, has sold the vineyard and winery and its name.
Here's his note, which preceded a formal news release:
I have sold Laurel Glen Vineyard to Bettina Sichel, a member of the prominent Bordeaux and German family that has been involved in the wine world for generations. I have been working on this sale for over three years, and after many hiccups and detours it has finally happened.
With 35 years of farming Laurel Glen under my belt, I had simply gotten about as much intellectual interest and satisfaction out of the vineyard and winery as I was ever going to get. Furthermore, during the past 20 years, my heart has been increasingly taken with the projects I had been developing in Lodi and Argentina, and it became ever more obvious that it was time to move on.
I will continue with the REDS, ZaZin!, Terra Rosa, Tierra Divina, Vale la Pena, and Chévere wines, now with less distraction and more focus, under the new company name: Tierra Divina Vineyards.
Thanks for your help, interest, and support along the long journey. Rest assured that the best is yet to come!
So, a new chapter in a career that's already brought joy to many people through outstanding, fairly priced wine. And the good news, as you read in Patrick's note, is that REDS and other popular labels that he's created from California and Argentine grapes will continue under his new label, Tierra Divina ("Divine Land.")
Watch for the new brand. I certainly will. For starters, meet the new REDS, just like the old REDS. It surely passes my taste test.
Today's Tasting Report
Tierra Divina 2009 Lodi California "REDS" ($10.99)
Dark purple with a clear garnet edge. Red berries and plums, good dark fruit aromas. It's a blend of Zinfandel, Carignane and Petite Sirah, but the Zin berries seem more evident on the palate than the nose, appetizing fruit well structured with fresh-fruit acidity and smooth but firm tannins. A modern replication of an old-style California field blend; I'd like to see a bit less alcohol than the label's claimed 14.5%, but in fairness, the flavor is fine, it's just that this high octane deters me from a refill that I'd really like to take. (April 24, 2011)
FOOD MATCH: Food-friendly and balanced, this is a versatile table wine. It made a great match with a roast local free-range hen for Easter dinner; I'd gladly serve it with steaks, burgers or a pizza.
VALUE: Hearty, drinkable table reds in this old-fashioned California style don't get any better in the $10 range. As the old saying goes, "Back up the truck" ... to the wine shop door.
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