Red Blends

Non Alcoholic Wines Taste Test

In the spirit of trying out alternatives to that nightly glass of wine, I went in search of dealcoholised or non alcoholic wines at my local Fred Meyer.  There were two that I had heard of and researched online - Fre and Ariel.

Both stated on the label that they were under 0.5% alcohol, which was encouraging, and I couldn't wait to get home to open them up and be dazzled.  I tried the Fre wine first, since it was cheaper (about $6) and I knew less about it than Ariel.

Fre dealcoholised

Here's the description of Fre 2012 Red Blend on their website:

"Fre Red Blend offers a deep ruby color and ripe, black cherry scented aromas. Smooth and rich, it offers plenty of bright, grape, and cherry fruit with an intriguing smoky flavor. Fre Red Blend ends with a long, fruity, lingering finish. This alcohol removed wine is delightful on its own or paired with salmon, turkey, chicken and ham dishes, as well as pasta, pizza, and grilled meats."

Color wise they were spot on, but unfortunately that's where the similarities ended.  There was no long lingering finish, just a rather awkward bitter aftertaste, and the first mouthful was insipid, although there was a hint of cherry.  I cut my losses and went on to the bottle of Ariel, which was 50% more expensive at $9.  My hopes were high.

Ariel dealcoholised

Sadly those hopes were dashed when I poured my first (and last) glass of Ariel.  It was surprisingly similar to the Fre Red Blend, not pleasant to drink, watery, pruney, some cherry and a bitter finish.

Ariel's website describes this Cabernet Sauvignon wine as:

"Offering aromas of black currants, cherry, blueberries and chocolate, with soft tannins and a dry finish."

But it didn't cut it for me.  Turns out that alcohol in the wine is kind of an essential ingredient to making a wine that you would want to drink.  I'm sorry Fre and Ariel - I really wanted to like you, but you were just not anywhere close to being a good alternative.  I'll stick to coconut water on my wine nights off.

2009 DeLille Cellars Doyenne Aix

Aix delille

Superb wine drinking perfectly right now.  So glad I waited three years to try this.  It's a big wine - 14.9% alcohol, with a deep, dark, squid ink color.  The Syrah style blend is heavy but it works.  This wine packs a punch and is a big mouthful.  There is a ton of fruit - strawberries, blackcurrent and good tannins.  Overall a very solid structure that will hold up for another few years.

I paid around $30 for it a few years ago and it retails now around $40 so quite a good investment too.

Chateau Recougne Bordeaux 2010

One of the best value Grand Vin de Bordeaux around right now, and one of the wines regularly supplied by my local wine merchant as an entry level Bordeaux wine, costing about $13 a bottle.

This red bordeaux blend is 78% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and the heavy predominence of Merlot makes it a smooth drinking Claret that pairs well with chicken, pork and tomato based pasta dishes.  It is not quite complex enough to do justice to a decent steak - you want something more heavily skewed towards Cab Sauv for that, but for the price you can't beat this wine. The 2010 vintage is drinking very well now and as you will read on my France Wine Vintages page, 2010 was an excellent year for Bordeaux wines!  Enjoy this great value delight whilst you can.


Sineann Abondance 2009

This thick red from Columbia Valley in Washington State really packs a punch at 14.8% alcohol. It's a mix of Cab, Zin, Cab Franc and Merlot and somehow it works.

Give it 30 mins to open up and you'll be pleasantly surprised. One of the interesting features of the bottle is that it has a glass stopper instead of a cork.

I put it in the fridge for a couple of days once opened and then finished it off on night three and it was totally fine.

Sineann Abondance 2009

Kirkland Chateauneuf du Pape 2010

Kirkland c neuf d pape
Ah, the famous Chateauneuf du Pape, a name than invokes class, mastery, elegance and above all, good living.  So what the devil has Costco done sticking a Kirkland own brand label on it?  I had to pick up a bottle (less than $20) and give it a try.

Opened it last night, gave it some fresh air for about ten minutes and slurped straight in.  I was shocked, and in a good way.  Fresh flowers, raspberry bushes and cherry pie - and I'm not talking about eating my dinner outside either.  This chateauneuf du pape smelled good and tasted divine.  It went rather well with the spaghetti bolognaise and even the wife had half a glass, which is a sure sign of a decent wine!  I would be happy to serve this at a dinner party, having decanted it first.

The 2010 is a good vintage and was successful across Southern Rhone, where chateauneuf du pape heralds from.  This blend appears to be a classic mix of the Southern Rhone grape varietals, namely Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and possibly some Cinsault.

Robert Parker said of the 2010 vintage, "The 2010s will have significant aging potential, which is obvious in the level of tannins, but the tannins are sweet with exceptional elegance and finesse."

This Kirkland wine will definitely sit well in the cellar for a couple of years but I would advise drinking it now.  Costco buys wine that usually needs drinking up, so take advantage and buy half a case while the going is good.

You can read more about the Rhone region and Rhone vintages here.

Vortex Red from Townshend Cellars

Townshend Vortex
This is a non vintage Bordeaux blend from Townshend Cellars in Columbia Valley.

It is 43% Cabernet Sauvignon, 47% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc.  At 13.6% alcohol it is 'lighter' than many other Washington reds and in keeping with its Bordeaux aspirations.

You can pick it up locally for around $14 a bottle or slightly more on the Townshend Cellars website.

I quite liked it - nothing amazing but quite reasonable nevertheless.  It's a non vintage bottle, nice label and perfectly suitable for a summer BBQ.

I give it two grapes.