Category Archives: Wine Reviews

Reviews of box wines and affordable bottle wines

Cameron Hughes Lot 321 2010 California Field Blend

Cameron Hughes Lot 321Price: $10
Maker: Cameron Hughes Winery, Geyserville, California
Variety: Red Blend
Packaging: 750ml bottle, natural cork
Alcohol: 14.5%
Our Rating: 9.0 out of 10

Cameron Hughes Lot 321 2010 California Field Blend is a really, really nice wine for a mere ten bucks. It’s a blend of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Syrah and Carignane. Its aroma includes berries and licorice. The Zin is the predominant grape, and on the palate the first impression is lots of fruit – blueberries and raspberries. But then, the flavor expands into a rich complexity, with chocolate and chewy tannins. If you like complex Zins that exhibit good fruit without being simple and too sweet, you’ll like Lot 321. Continue reading

Vendi Pinot Grigio 2009

Price: $6
Maker: CL Dolo, Italy
Variety: Pinot Grigio
Packaging: Bottle, artificial cork
Alcohol: 12%
Our Rating: 8.2 out of 10

Vendi Pinot Grigio 2009 Delle Venezie isn’t typical of the varietal. It’s pale straw color doesn’t lead you to expect an overwhelmingly fruity taste. Its flavors are pear and tropical fruit, and this wine is far less dry than most Pinot Grigios. Light acidity clears the palate, preventing it from being overly cloying. Continue reading

Barefoot Zinfandel (Update)

barefoot zinfandelPrice: $5
Maker: Barefoot Cellars, Modesto, California
Variety: Zinfandel
Packaging: Bottle, artificial cork
Alcohol: 13.5%
Our Rating: 8.5 out of 10

It’s been five years since we looked at Barefoot Zinfandel (non-vintage), and it’s good to know that not much has changed with this very inexpensive wine. Continue reading

Tilia Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

Tilia Cabernet SauvignonPrice: $9
Winery: Tilia, Mendoza, Argentina
Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon
Packaging: 750 ml bottle, screw cap
Alcohol: 13.9%
Our Rating: 8.5 out of 10

Perhaps the strongest appeal of Tilia Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 is the ripe berry and licorice nose. On the palate, it combines cherry, red berry, and woody notes with an reasonably long finish. It’s on the light side for a Cab, though I didn’t really see the sweetness that a few reviewers noticed. This Cab definitely improves with some air. Despite aerating and a little breathing, the first sips were a bit harsh and not all that flavorful. An hour or two later, the wine was more pleasant and pleasantly drinkable. At first taste, I was thinking a sub-8.0 rating on my personal scale of 10, but after the wine sat for a while I found it more to my liking. Continue reading

Cameron Hughes Lot 250 Meritage 2009

Cameron Hughes Lot 250 Meritage 2009Price: $8
Winery: Cameron Hughes Wine, Geyserville, California
Varietal: Meritage
Packaging: 750 ml bottle, natural cork
Alcohol: 14.6%
Our Rating: 9.0 out of 10

Cameron Hughes Lot 250 Meritage 2009 is a big, tasty red wine! It is fruity up front, with cherry and blueberry flavors, but maintains some complexity as it eases into a long, peppery finish with chewy tannins. If there’s a flaw, it’s that the nose is surprisingly minimal. It’s a Meritage, which means it’s a red blend that must adhere to a set of specifications. Continue reading

Bodega Elena de Mendoza Malbec 2010

Bodega Elena de Mendoza Malbec 2010Price: $8
Winery: BEDM Wines, Argentina
Varietal: Malbec
Packaging: 750 ml bottle, natural cork
Alcohol: 13.6%
Our Rating: 8.6 out of 10

Is there a varietal that offers as good a value as Malbec? Bodega Elena de Mendoza Malbec 2010 is yet another very inexpensive but totally drinkable red wine from Argentina. It’s very juicy and jammy with blueberry and raspberry notes, and offers a tart, peppery finish.

The Bodega Elena de Mendoza website doesn’t tell us much about the brand (reportedly, it is an E. J. Gallo brand), though it does say: Continue reading

Banrock Station Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

Banrock Station Cabernet SauvignonPrice: $18
Maker: Banrock Station, Kingston on Murray, South Australia, Australia
Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon
Packaging: 3-liter box
Alcohol: 13.5%
Our Rating: 8.7 out of 10

Banrock Station Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 is a very pleasant wine, one of the nicer boxed Cabs in mass distribution in the U.S. It’s a fruit-forward Cab, with blueberry and plum flavoers, along with some chocolate, spice, and oak. The finish is reasonably long with medium tannins. Continue reading

Seven Red Table Wine

Seven Red Table Wine

Seven Red Table Wine

Price: $19
Maker: Bodegas Osborne, Malpica de Tajo, Spain
Varietal: Red Blend
Packaging: 3-liter box
Alcohol: 13.5%
Our Rating: 8.6 out of 10

Seven Red Table Wine is one of the newer boxes available in mass distribution. It’s from Spain, it’s in a cool octagonal bag-in-box package, and it’s surprisingly good. Seven is so named because it’s a blend of seven red grapes, with Tempranillo being the largest component. It’s not too complex, but offers a pleasant mix of chocolate cherries and a little black pepper. The tannins are soft, and the finish reasonably long. Continue reading

Zarpado Malbec 2009

Zarpado Malbec

Zarpado Malbec 2009

Price: $7
Winery: Mendoza Vineyards, Mendoza, Argentina
Varietal: Malbec
Packaging: 750 ml bottle, natural cork
Alcohol: 13.7%
Our Rating: 8.7 out of 10

Malbecs tend to offer some of the better red wine values, but for a mere seven bucks Zarpado Malbec 2009 is an even better value than most. It has an aroma of leather and red berries, and is surprisingly complex on the palate for such an inexpensive wine. The overall impression is of juicy blackberries and raspberries, but there’s a hint of tobacco and the finish offers tannins that are pleasantly robust. Continue reading

Grayson Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

Grayson Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon 2009Price: $10
Winery: Grayson Cellars, St. Helena, California
Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon
Packaging: 750 ml bottle, natural cork
Alcohol: 13.9%
Our Rating: 9.1 out of 10

It’s not often that one gets a really nice Cab for a mere ten bucks, but Grayson Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (Lot 10) is one such wine. This Cab is a dark ruby color with licorice and cherry aromas. The flavor is rich and balanced, starting with ripe cherries and vanilla notes, and finishing with black pepper, robust tannins, and a little oak. The impression is of a more costly wine. Continue reading