Value Wines: Sub $10 California
DnA Vineyards Babble ‘08 Red Blend
$7 Right Now Trader Joe’s
A wine with this many varietals is bound to be an odd duck.
Perfect for my friend Joel, the maestro of epicurean madness. His Mediterranean style cooking, demonstrating authentic flavors from the hotter regions of Spain, Italy, and Greece calls for a hot wine.
This wine delivers heat with an urgency. The higher the alcohol, the fuller the body of a wine. This is very fruity, lots of red raspberry and ripe red cherry up front. It tastes hotter than it should, with a hint of structure mid-palate. Hot fruit is what this wine is about right away, but after giving it some time to burn off, certain subtle pepper and oak notes emerged. Not an altogether complex wine, but more than suitable for the price. Get it while it’s hot.
The Grapes: 36% Petite Sirah, 26% Syrah, 17% Merlot, 10% Carignan, 10% Grenache, 1% Malbec.
A quick rundown:
Petite Sirah (also sometimes inaccurately Syrah) is actually a grape called Durif. A “non-noble” variety. On its own this grape produces powerful wine. Black-fruited and inky complexion, plummy flavors with peppery and herbal notes often present. Tannic.
Syrah, a classic Rhone variety expressing a highly variable nature depending on where it’s grown (Mostly France, USA, and Australia where it is often called Shiraz) Also black-fruited and powerful, creates wines of great intensity, often with distinctive notes of Black Pepper. Tannic.
Merlot, balanced plums or blackberry fruit. Generally not very structured. Common in blends. Best examples are amazing, don’t get your opinion from Paul Giamatti.
Carignan, southern Rhone varietal, though it is more prevalent in the Languedoc. Produces very powerful and astringent, tannic wine on its own. Mostly used for blending to add structure and depth.
Grenache, one of the world’s most widely planted wine grapes. Produces a very fruity wine, high in alcohol. A great blending wine, hence its popularity in the southern Rhone. Spain makes some killer Grenache.
Malbec, the forgotten noble grape of Bordeaux. Mostly falling out of favor in France, Malbec has found its calling in South America, mostly in Argentina, where it produces amazing, floral and fruit-driven wines that at their best rival Napa cab for power and structure. However 1%? Beneath all those other hot grapes it will be indistinguishable as a component.
Grape list concluded, get out there and try some new stuff. Great wines come from every region, it’s always a good year somewhere.