Red blends are all the rage in America. And wines like this are a good reason why. Some wine called “The Prisoner” sparked a trend a while back, and the trend is reaching a peak now, with no one calling it a bubble yet. The concept is simple: slap at least three different grape varietals together—sourcing the grapes from one state or region so it can be called a “California” wine or a “Paso Robles” wine per se—come up with an iconic name, e.g. “The Bitchslapper” or “My Dog Max,” and engage a design team to come up with a very eye-catching wine label. And what you have, in a lot of cases, is a red blend that’s flying off the shelves. The cynical will say it’s all a marketing ploy, preying on unsophisticated American palates and the widespread gullibility of a consumer that still can’t explain why the Kardashians are so famous.
The hopeless oenophile, however, will search for treasures among the dreck. You gotta admit, Apothic Red and Menage a Trois and Vigilance are pretty darn good for the money. And then there are wines like TOWER 15 The Swell that approach greatness for the price. A combination of 31% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Malbec, 27% Merlot and 14% Petit Verdot, it calls itself a Bordeaux blend, but I’m hard pressed to name a French Chateau that produces a blend with this mix. Chateau La Prisonére? All kidding aside, some wineries make serious art of putting together a novel, exciting red blend. Fewer succeed than miss the mark. This one succeeds because it’s just a flat-out enjoyable red wine. Big, ripe, bold and tasty as all get-out, with a good amount of complexity and balance, and pretty much goes with any food. Nothing pretentious about it. Look at the label. How could you possibly be pretentious about this wine? The graphic art is of a lifeguard tower at a beach in the Pacific Palisades, home of Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks and Bob Saget. It’s, like, laughing at you saying: Dude, lighten up. It’s only wine. Don’t be a douche. Have fun. –J.M.
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