Dark House 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon
California (this is from Trader Joe’s, so grape sourcing is always mysterious)
Not going to lie, I bought this wine because it was affordable and the name Dark Horse is full of intrigue. Did it enter a wine contest while wearing a paper bag? Did it confirm that a horse raised on wine would indeed be the sluggish horse in the race? Who knows. I only know that its coloring is deep and dark enough to make me think of octopi. Its smell is less remarkable: chemicals with spice. There’s wood, too, firewood. Burnt firewood.
Tasting it confirms that smoky flavor. It’s the strongest note and lingers long after the bitter fruit passes. The sip doesn’t start bitter, but the berry note is fleeting, fleeting boysenberry choked away by the bonfire. Once that burns out, only stone fruit pits remain—they must have been low-hanging enough to avoid asphyxiation.
As I obviously didn’t enjoy that first taste, I pulled out the oxidizer, and it brought out berry in the nose and mellowed the bitter notes, making the wine tolerable. But it’s still not something I’d drink by choice.
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Fat Grape Winery 2010 Merlot
I posted recently about what I’d recommend for a foodie day trip to Treasure Island. Fat Grape was the sulfite-free winery we visited that offers a zillion different types of wine to taste for free. The Fat Grape 2010 Merlot was one of two wines that impressed me, and here’s its official the Gourmez review.
As you can see, the bottle was so freshly filled that it wasn’t labelled yet, and we were instructed to drink it within 10 days of purchase. No problem! Normally I don’t take a picture of the wine in its glass, because I haven’t found that wine colors vary enough to note. But because the bottle had no label, I figured you deserved a shot of the glass.
And this medium-bodied wine is interesting in the cup, murkier than normal due to its lack of filtration and with a brown-plum tinge to its purple. It has legs and smells amazing. The nose is sweeter than I normally like–plenty of brown sugar and vanilla that intermingle with boysenberry and softer peach. Its taste is much more complex than that nose belies, which is partly why I enjoyed it so much at the tasting. The dryness is like sandpaper rubbing softly against your skin—not too rough, but the sensation lingers. Moderately dark chocolate and a mix of cherry and boysenberry notes rise up to take the mild spice for a dance. It’s port in unfortified form: fresh, crisp, and thoroughly enjoyable.
My food blogger pretensions tell me I shouldn’t enjoy this sulfate-free, slap-happy wine as much as I do, but I’m not lying when I say it’s delicious.
Other Bloggers’ Thoughts:
Can’t find any! There are mentions of the wineries but no specific views on the wines. Hopefully, I can entice other bloggers to share their thoughts on Fat Grape.
Reviewed 26 November 13.