While the *Red Blend* category of wine is populated with crazy labels and whimsical names–and represents the #1-selling red wine product marketed to Americans, it is a section of the store most of the wine 1 percent avoid, as they tend to be marketed to the lowest common denominator of consumer: an easy grab, a flashy bottle, probably a trendy producer, and “Red Wine” requires no difficult pronunciation or snobby understanding; in taste: assuredly ALL defining varietal characteristics have been blended out in favor of rich, ripe, artificially-colored and flavored thick purple swill guaranteed to get *likes* on Instagram because of wide appeal to people who don’t want to think about their wine. But I have held a soft spot in my heart for Claret for decades, and while the original definition has all-but been lost on this generation of wine-lovers, put a light, inexpensive BDX Blend in front of me and I am all ears! I love seeing “Claret” on a label–and more winemakers should use it. To be clear: this wine does NOT call itself Claret, but has most of the classic traits–WITH a definite California spin.

Rosy red in the glass, medium density, with a sliver of a clear rim and even: somewhat staining. Nice toasty-rich nose–very ripe–and while the historical bright acidity of English Claret is missing, it more than makes up for it in modern, robust New World depth and woodsy black berry and piquant, briary blood-orange. A complexity of bouquet quite out-pacing its price-tag.

Tasting it is a mixed bag of fairly simple black cherry which heads for sluttiness but pulls back carefully from that edge with sharp acidity and a peppery complex of herb and spice. The almost-cola sprite of the nose appears again throughout the middle, and its goal as a superb DD never wavers. Beautiful brown-sugar tannins are not designed for the long-run and a little heat shows up, bittering the fruit wonderfully. Complexity and polished elegance are not this wine’s calling-cards, but for 20 bucks: no one’s complaining. Order a case, try to make it last 5 years.

2019 NSO by DUSTY NABOR ‘Red Wine’ CF/Cab/PV/Bec 41/25/22/12 Ballard Cyn SYV Santa Barbara Co. 14.5

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