Wine: 14 Hands Hot to Trot Red Blend
Grapes: Syrah, merlot, petit verdot and mourvedre
Region: Columbia Valley, Wash.
Availability: Costco and other stores
In the glass: Hot to Trot Red Blend is a deep blackish color with a densely opaque core going out into a rich-looking purple-red rim definition with high viscosity.
On the nose: There is excellent black and red berry fruit at first, then crushed brambleberry, loganberry juice, lots of cassis and raspberry jam, with just a hint of underlying mineral character. There is a discernable trace of oak in the wine, bringing a hint of exotic vanilla to it, but also making it appear very clean and fresh and not overwrought.
On the palate: It is a lovely rounded blast of berry fruit with dominance by raspberries, black currants and boysenberries. The solid structure in the wine through the midpalate goes into a soft, lush fruity finish with lots of berries, then fruit-driven minerals with hints of mint and herbs. The finish is wonderfully supple, with no obtrusive tannins and nice lingering blackberry and licorice finale. It is a good effort in winemaking in a highly attractive package.
Odds and ends: These are the first few days of the Year of the Horse in the Chinese calendar and to celebrate, I found the perfect wine. This 14 Hands red blend was normally available only for restaurants in select markets, but as the company saw the wine’s popularity soar and discerning wine lovers kept requesting it in their local wine shops, it decided to roll out this aptly named “Hot to Trot” blend. The 14 hands refer to the height of the wild horses that used to roam the area where this wine comes from.
The wine is made in a fairly traditional way, receiving special attention, as if it were a much more expensive wine, including cold soaking to extract fruit flavors, daily pump-overs for color and flavor extraction, and aging in both French and American oak barrels. The result is astonishing for the money — a big, full-bodied and rich wine that deserves a nice filet grilled medium-rare and accompanied by roasted potatoes. It will drink well now through 2018 and can be enjoyed straight from the bottle with no need to decant.
Gil Lempert-Schwarz’s wine column appears Wednesdays. Write him at P.O. Box 50749, Henderson, NV 89106-0749, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.