Z. ALEXANDER BROWN “UNCAGED” RED BLEND 2015
“I’m sure wine snobs look at me and think, how dare you.” …. Drew Barrymore
Good for Drew, whatever she was referencing. That’s how I think about this wine. It was one I poured last year at a retail outlet and I have to confess, before then, I never heard of it. That’s the danger of being a wine snob. People still ask me why I continue to pour wine and I continue to answer, “Because it’s fun.” It exposes me to wines I might otherwise not encounter. Wines I might walk past at a retail outlet where I become a prisoner of my own palate’s GPS.
Pouring wine requires tasting (oh, the sacrifice!). I’ll make short notes about my impression and share those thoughts with the people interested in a tasting. Generally, these are “grocery store wines” - not those I get invited to as a reviewer/critic attending a nice meal and sampling wines, meeting with the winemaker on tour and, hopefully, writing about their wine.
And no, I’m not a fan of the label. At least the back label which, in my regimented stick-in-the-mud-old-fashioned frame of mind is a waste of space. No detail. The wine is a red blend. What are the varietals? Never disclosed. Instead, we are told the winemaker is also “uncaged” and that the owl (depicted on the front label) is a “guardian of the vine”. Who cares?
Turns out Zac Brown (Z. Alexander Brown) is a country & western singer of notoriety. And he teamed up with the resources of Delicato Family Wines and Napa Valley winemaker John Killebrew to make this wine: a blend of Zinfandel, Syrah, Petite Verdot, Malbec, Petite Sirah and Cabernet Sauvignon. I’m also not a fan of “celebrity wines” but – acknowledging that it’s what’s inside the bottle that counts – I am a fan of this wine.
Well balanced, smooth, easy drinking, ripe and juicy, this is an excellent everyday wine priced for the rest of us. Cranberry and dark chocolate on the nose. A little smoke and leather. Blackberry, plum and baking spice balance out the presentation. On the palate it’s mouth filling, rich and creamy. Bing cherry, plum, cranberry, blackberry, dark chocolate and black currant; a little vanilla and pepper. A hint of toasted oak balances surprising but subtle notes of earth. I don’t expect this at less than $18 (sometimes 16% less) a bottle.
This is sometimes cooler growing, later ripening North Coast California fruit, aged just nine months in one-third new French and American oak that comes together deliciously under winemaker John Killebrew and is budget friendly priced. Made for today’s palates, enhanced with delicate notes of lilac, cedar and white pepper, it’s a wine that is case-worthy to buy and keep available for everyday use.
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TECH SPECS & ETC.
Z Alexander Brown: http://www.azlexanderbrown.com/