Variety: Blend of Zinfandel, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon
Packaging: Bottle, natural cork
Our Rating: 8 out of 10
The amusing name of Ménage à Trois Red comes from it being a blend of three different wines: Zinfandel, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. According to the maker, Folie à Deux, the three wines are aged separately in barrels, blended, and then aged again.
The 2003 vintage definitely favors the Zinfandel portion of the blend. The aroma is floral and fruity. The wine has a soft texture and is dominated by a plummy fruitiness that brings a surprising sweetness to the wine. The rounded flavor leads to a somewhat spicy and lingering finish. Ménage à Trois Red wine has the advantage of appealing to wine drinkers who might normally wrinkle their noses at a dry Merlot or Cab, although it lacks the complexity of a great Zin.
Another opinion comes from Sean at the More is Less blog: “it’s not complex, but for grape juice, it’s not bad…”
Packaging: Bottle, natural cork
Our Rating: 9 out of 10
This Riesling from Oliver Winery has a mild aroma of apple blossoms, and a golden color that is bright and clear. The wine has a very slightly syrupy texture, which isn’t a bad thing. Tasting it reveals apple and melon flavors, with a hint of honey and spice. Finish is a pleasant balance of sweetness and acidity.
The 2004 version of this wine won was awarded the “2005 Best New World White Wine” at the Jerry D. Mead’s New World International Wine Competition, which features blind tasting of a group of wines not restricted by price range.
If your tastes tend toward a sweeter wine, this is a choice that will still provide interesting flavors and satisfy those who might prefer a dryer choice.
Maker: Funky Llama
Packaging: Bottle, artificial cork
Our Rating: 7.5 out of 10
Wine packaging seems to have two major variants these days – traditional packaging designed to imply centuries of winemaking, and funky, playful, modernistic packaging designed to appeal to a casual wine-buyer. Funky Llama Shiraz is definitely in the latter category. We picked up a bottle on sale for a fairly amazing $5, hoping to venture back for a dozen more if the tasting went well.
The first thing one notices is the bright yellow cork. It nearly glows with neon intensity, and features a picture of a llama. It’s a nice touch – no wine damage from spoiled corks, and a marketing boost from a cork likely to attract the attention of everyone in the room. A year from now, a brightly colored cork may be no big thing, but at the moment it stands out.
If only the wine were as distinctive as its cork. The aroma is faintly floral, and the color is a nice, deep red. The wine combines moderately weak dark berry flavor with spiciness; it’s a bit thin compared to bolder Shirazes. The finish is faintly bitter and peppery. It’s not a bad wine overall for the price, but there are others in this range that are better.
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