Monday, June 26, 2017

Terra Bella 2011 Proprietary Red Blend, Sonoma County

For red wine lovers, the search is always on for a unicorn – an exceedingly rare wine that delivers rich, premium taste for under twenty bucks. We may have spotted one!

Avoiding Gift-Giving Disappointment

Occasionally the Green Dragon (my wife) will buy something at the store, bring it home and tell me that this is the gift I’m giving her for her birthday or Christmas. No problem with me, although it does seem to cut down on the surprise.

Leading up to Christmas, I was perusing a massive online wine sale on one of my favorite sites, Invino. During their occasional clearance sales, you can spend hours scrolling through hundreds of bottles all being sold at significant discounts.

Recently, Green Dragon has shut down my wine purchases. She issued a mandate that we had to “drink down” the cellar in preparation for our upcoming move to North Carolina. So, I was wistfully looking at the site, wondering if the Green Dragon would start breathing fire if I ordered a bottle or six.

She pleasantly surprised me by asking me to pick out a half-case for my Christmas present. I selected two from Terra Bella Vineyards, the 2011 Proprietary Red Blend and an estate Syrah.

A Unicorn Sighting

We love Bordeaux blends and Meritage. Some of the blends from premium appellations can command high dollars. That’s why this Terra Bella blend caught my attention. It was listed as retailing for $85, but was selling for $19.99.

We opened the bottle over the weekend. Now I wish we had gotten six bottles or maybe a case.

Grapes for this wine come from 600 to 1,100 feet in the Mayacamas Mountains in Sonoma County. The volcanic soils are well drained and cooling breezes add to conditions that are almost perfect for Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine was created by acclaimed winemaker Peter Boyd. His goal was to create Sonoma County’s best Cabernet Sauvignon.

Somewhere along the line the train ran off the tracks and his company, Genius Wines, went into bankruptcy. His misfortune is our good luck. Invino purchased the remainder of his inventory and is able to offer it exclusively through their online site at an amazing price.

Although it is from the 2011 vintage, which some classify as being problematic, it is perfectly attuned. It can age for another decade, but drinks deliciously now. There is a flavor rush of cooked cherries with notes of blackberry, herbs and tobacco. The blend is complex, but the enjoyment is easily accessible. The blend isn’t disclosed, but I’m assuming Cabernet Sauvignon as the lead player followed by Merlot and Cabernet Franc with a cameo role.

The tannins provide nice structure and aren’t ponderous. The alcohol by volume is 13.5%. It finds the perfect balance point between power and finesse. The finish is one of the longest I can recall, laced with delicious flavors. 

This wine receives our highest recommendation. Furthermore, we say this “unicorn” is deserving of a multi-bottle purchase. Cheers!

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