Behind the Cork™ - Clayhouse Adobe Red

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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


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


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!

Behind the Cork™ - Wine of the Week


2016 Rancho Sisquoc Santa Barbara "Sisquoc River Red" ($10)

Now here's a red blend that recently caught my eye. Not because of any fancy label or special promotion in the store.

According to the Rancho Sisquoc website this is 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, 14% Pinot Noir, 10% Syrah, 4% Malbec, 4% Cabernet Franc, 3% Sangiovese and 2% Petite Verdot.  Now, you might say "Wow" that's quite a number of reds in this blend. And, it is. But, what really caught my eye was the Pinot Noir.

I found it unusual to find 14% Pinot Noir in among all those other big players. Pinot is typically a lighter-bodied red wine and you'd think it would get lost in the mix.

But, this red blend really works.  And, to find it for $10 when the winery website lists it for $22 is an added bonus. So, another Behind the Cork™ - Wine of the Week that's attainable and affordable. I went back for several more bottles. Give it a try. Cheers!

Do You Know Limnio?

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I always enjoy it when someone asks me a wine question that I don't know the answer to. It gives me another opportunity to learn. So, when I was recently asked if I was familiar with Limnio (LIM-nee-oh) I said no and started to do some research.

Limnio is a grape that is indigenous to Greece. Apparently, it was originally from the Greek island of Lemnos and history seems to indicate that it's been around for more than 2000 years.

The Limnio grape produces a red wine that is still being made today. Although little or no Limnio is grown on the island of Lemnos, it is being grown in other parts of Greece.

When made as a varietal, it produces a dry red wine that is full-bodied and can be quite high in alcohol. It is also described as being very herbaceous.

But, it seems that Limnio is more commonly blended with other red wines, often Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Grenache and Petite Sirah. My research even found purely Greek red blends that include Aghiorgitiko and Xynomavro with the Limnio (which gives me two more unique grapes to research!).

So, now that I know a bit about Limnio, I'm curious to try it.  I'll be on the lookout for the varietal or a blend. According to the person that asked me about it, the blend is quite good! Cheers!