DID YOU KNOW … In most states, a wine can consist of as little of 75% of a varietal such as Merlot and can then be labeled as that straight varietal even if it’s a blend. Personally, we think blends are often marvelous, so we don’t know why a vintner wouldn’t want to tout a blend.
Anyhow, this gem of a Shiraz was billed as a varietal, but it turns out it’s indeed a blend. In fact, the rather exotic white-grape Viognier was part of this equation (2.5%), and having had a Radford-Dale 90% Shiraz/10% Viognier blend that was out of this world, once I learned about this factoid (not mentioned on the bottle but only on the Web site), we looked forward even more to experiencing it. Grenache (2%) was added for fruitiness. (To be precise, this 95.5% Shiraz was co-fermented with 2.5% Viognier and then blended with 2% Grenache.)
Located in Paterson, WA, Red Diamond is a subsidiary of Columbia Crest Winery. Red Diamond, with winemaker Juan Munoz-Oca at the helm, was launched in 2003 and marketed exclusively to restaurants, but the label became popular enough to introduce to the mainstream market. Nearly a half-million cases of four varietals (Merlot, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz) were produced in 2008. But they are all blends—beautiful blends! Their Merlot has “a splash” each of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Their Cabernet Sauvignon has “a touch of Syrah and Merlot to create added layers” (and their Cabernet Sauvignon is nearly as good as their Shiraz). Even the Chardonnay has an eensy 1% of Viognier.
Anyhow, we find this label to be interesting and delicious, especially for the price. The initial aroma and taste were very pleasing with oak, vanilla, and big luscious berries. It’s a gorgeous, fat wine with a beautiful garnet color and a long finish. Utterly enjoyable by itself. (We haven’t tried it with any foods yet.)
VINTNER’S NOTES: We experimented with different blends until the perfect one was created—a juicy, fruit-forward Shiraz with a bit of floral spice, courtesy of a splash of Viognier. Aromas of red berries, sweet vanilla-caramel, cloves and a touch of white pepper lead to a silky palate and long lasting finish. The mild winter allowed the vines to remain in good shape throughout the cold months. Then in May, one to two weeks before bloom, temperatures spiked to 100 degrees for about a week. The heat spike led to a smaller canopy which allowed for more light penetration and contributed to good flavor development in the fruit. The hot temperatures also contributed to smaller berries with concentrated flavors. The weather conditions were favorable during fruit set and the summer saw mild to average temperatures. Veraison started 10 days ahead of average and temperatures were ideal throughout harvest. After harvest, the grapes were destemmed, crushed and inoculated with Premier Cuvee and L2226 yeasts. Fermentation lasted seven days on the skins with a daily pumpover regime. After fermentation the wine was aged in a combination of French and American oak barrels.
The 2008 Cab. Sauvignon was interesting, too. The first aroma was jammy, but it opened up rapidly and, on the second sniff, revealed pepper and rope. Yes, rope! This is a kinder, gentler Cab without that edgy bite. Medium-bodied, smooth, and delicious.