Behind the Cork™ - Phantom Red Blend by Boglea

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2015 Phantom Red Blend by Bogle ($25)

The Phantom is back! Last week’s Behind the Cork™ feature was the Phantom Chardonnay that was so good I went out and bought another bottle. This week feature is the Phantom Red Blend by Bogle.

This Phantom Red Blend is comprised of 44% Petite Sirah, 44% Zinfandel, 10% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Sauvignon. It spent 24 months in 1 & 2 year-old American and French Oak.

On the nose you know you are going to get richness, dark fruit, some earthiness and a healthy dose of oak.

And that oak comes right through. Along with the richness of the Petite Sirah, and the jammy Zinfandel, you get wonderful chocolate and vanilla tones from the oak that are followed up with a low tannin, smooth and lingering finish.

I’ve enjoyed Bogle wines for years but this offering from their Phantom label, along with their Phantom Chardonnay, really step it up a few notches.

And, you can bet I’ll be out soon looking for more of this Phantom Red Blend by Bogle! Cheers!


Disclosure of Wine Sample Submission: I received this wine at no cost for review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Sample Provided by Bogle Vineyards

Behind the Cork™ - The Federalist Honest Red Blend

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2016 Federalist Honest Red Blend ($21.99)

The Federalist Honest Red Blend pays homage to one of the most highly regarded American Presidents of all time, Abraham Lincoln.

This is a blend of reds from the California’s North Coast appellation that includes 46.4% Merlot, 24% Zinfandel, 22% Cabernet Sauvignon and 7.6% Malbec. (I always find the fractional percentages of a varietal in a blend fascinating, but I’ll address that in a future blog). It’s somewhat a Bordeaux blend but with the addition of the Zinfandel.

Each wine is fermented separately, spending an average of 18 days on the skins. Then, they are aged 15 months in 35% new Oak.

With all these big reds, the color of this Honest Red Blend remains a pale purple.

On the nose there are floral notes along with hints of black fruits such as black cherry and black currant.

The black cherry flavors also come through on the palette. The tannins are surprisingly moderate and the finish is again surprisingly light.

So, while this Federalist Honest Red Blend states that it “…burst with bold layered flavors” it actually has some lighter, more delicate notes as well. While I’ve seen this one in the past, it was a new one for me. And, I’m so glad to have become acquainted with The Federalist. Cheers!


Disclosure of Wine Sample Submission: I received this wine at no cost for review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Sample Provided by Donna White Communications

Behind the Cork™ - Écluse Blind Dog Red Blend

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Écluse Blind Dog Red Blend ($17)

Écluse is the French word for the locks on the canals. And, the Écluse name is very fitting for this winery that’s owned by Steve Lock.

During my last visit to Paso Robles I stopped in to visit Écluse and got to meet Steve. Besides making great wines, he’s also a wonderful gentleman.

The Blind Dog wines began in 1996 when their property caretaker, Duane Robinson, lived on the property with Bingo, his longtime, faithful companion who, due to glaucoma, was blind. They were great companions as Bingo would bark to alert Duane, who was very hard of hearing, and Duane would be Bingo's eyes. In 1998 Bingo had aged and Topaz, a spunky little lab/terrier mix came on the scene. Topaz became Toby to Duane and all at the Vineyard. As Toby aged they discovered she was a Diabetic and in the summer of 2008, Toby lost her sight. They then had two blind dogs on the property.

This inspired Écluse to create Blind Dog Midnight Run Cuvee as a Tribute to these special dogs. This red is a terrific blend of some of the best Paso Robles reds. It’s barrel aged from 14 to 30 months and really special.

So, next time you are passing through Paso Robles, take the short drive off Highway 101 and visit Écluse. They make a bunch of really great wines that you’re sure to enjoy. And, if you pick up a bottle of this Blind Dog Red, they’ll donate a percentage of their proceeds to Dogs for Better Lives, formerly known as Dogs for the Deaf, in Central Point, Oregon. It’s a real win-win! Cheers!

Ever Wonder - What is Jug Wine?

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While strolling through the wine section of my local grocery store, I was asked “Do you know what Jug Wine is?” My attention was drawn to a sign above the shelves that identified the section as “Jug Wine.”

My first reaction was to state that it’s cheap bulk wine. But, the immediate follow-on question that I got was “What type of wine is it?” I had to shrug my shoulders and say “I don’t really know. Probably some blend of grapes.” Turns out, both of my responses were correct.

You’ll find that these jug wines are commonly sold as “Burgundy” for the red ones or “Chablis” for the white ones. These are trademark name of their wine brands and definitely not French wines. In France, red wines from Burgundy are made from Pinot Noir and wines from Chablis are made from Chardonnay. Some makers of the jug wines go so far as to call them “Reserve” which is just a bit of a stretch since that term is not regulated in the U.S.

So I did a little digging and learned, for example, that Gallo's Hearty Burgundy is a blend of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, Petite Sirah, Teroldego and Zinfandel, while Carlo Rossi Burgundy is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Ruby Cabernet and Syrah.

Another blending wine is Barbera. In California, in the ‘60s and ‘70s, Barbera was one of the most successful grapes being grown in the Central Valley, where it became a major blending component in jug wines. Unfortunately, Barbera still gets a bad rap because of this. Yet, it’s one of my favorite varietal wines, especially from the Amador and El Dorado Counties of California.

So, yes, jug wine is inexpensive bulk wine that’s a blend of different grapes. And, it’s very popular as a table wine in the U.S. So, enjoy! Cheers!

Behind the Cork™ - Thomas Allen Generations

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2016 Thomas Allen Generations Red Blend ($7)

This was a new one to me. I’d previously tried the Thomas Allen Cabernet Sauvignon, but wasn’t aware of their red blend.

Thomas Allen is owned and operated by third generation wine grape growers, Thomas Michael Stokes and Allen Lombardi, who grown their grapes in Lodi, CA.

This Thomas Allen Generations is a blend of Syrah, Petite Sirah, and Tannat that makes for a very full-bodied wine. Bright fruit aromas and a hint of pepper hit your nose while its flavors include dark fruits, plum and sour cherry. The oak also gives this red blend nice vanilla and mocha flavors.

It’s an easy one on the palette, low tannin and a light finish.

This is yet another wine that fits the Behind the Cork™ mold being a great value that you should be able to easily find. Enjoy this one. Cheers!