Ever Wonder - What is Jug Wine?

Jug Wine - Generic.jpg

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

Thomas Allen.jpg

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!

Behind the Cork™ - Clayhouse Adobe Red

Clayhouse Adobe Red.jpg

2012 Clayhouse Adobe Red Blend ($14)

This was an interesting find. I love Paso Robles and the wines that are produced there. But, I wasn’t previously familiar with this one.

The Clayhouse estate Red Cedar Vineyard is located on the east side of Paso Robles within two of the sub-AVAs: San Juan Creek and Paso Robles Estrella District.

This blend is from winemaker Blake Kuhn who got his start at UC Santa Barbara with degrees in biology and environmental sciences. He later attended UC Davis to further his wine education.

Blake has done well with this Adobe Red. It’s 39% Petite Sirah, 34% Zinfandel, 12% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Syrah, 3% Tempranillo and 2% Malbec.

It has nice black fruit flavors of cherry and blackberry with a bit of jammy flavor, some nice oak additions of vanilla and cocoa and finishes very smooth. This is a very tasty red blend at a great price. Cheers!

Behind the Cork™ - Lion Tamer Red Blend

Hess+Lion+Tamer.jpg

2016 Lion Tamer Red - The Hess Collection ($45)

This red blend comes from The Hess Collection of wines from Napa Valley.

Hess Family wines was founded by Donald Hess in 1978. Today, Tim Persson (Donald’s son in law) and his wife Sabrina are owners of Hess Family Wine Estates and are the fifth generation of the Hess family to lead the company.

The Lion Tamer is part of a new collection of wines that are not Hess branded. But it certainly represents the tradition and heritage of Hess wines.

This red blend is comprised of 40% Malbec, 27% Zinfandel, 21% Petite Sirah, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Mourvedre, 1% Petite Verdot and 1% Merlot.

While the Lion has been the emblem of the Hess Family for nine generations and the name Lion Tamer has become the nickname for Malbec because of their use of Malbec to ‘tame’ the tannin in their Cabernet Sauvignon wines.

The Malbec certainly does its job in taming this wine. It’s amazingly smooth and full of big juicy dark fruit flavors of black plum, black currant, cassis and boysenberry. This wine is a delight and oh so easy to drink.

This is one you’ll want to be on the lookout for! 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 of Donna White Communications


Behind the Cork™ - 2016 Écluse Ensemble

IMG_0362.jpg

2016 Écluse Ensemble ($48)

This Bordeaux red blend from Écluse in Paso Robles is truly an ensemble of varietals. It’s produced from 29% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Cab Franc, 15% Petit Verdot, 14% Merlot, 14% Malbec and 7% Carignane. A little bit of everything!

And the result is quite tasty. It has bright red fruit flavors such as cherry but also has hints of pepper, licorice and other spices.

Écluse has masterfully blended this wine to be big in flavor and smooth on the finish.

If you’re passing through Paso Robles on Highway 101, Écluse is just a couple of minutes away and well worth the stop. And, you’re likely to find the warm and friendly owner Steve Lock (Lock is Écluse in French) in the serving room.

This is a really good one! Cheers!