2010 Tribunal Sonoma County Red

25868The 2010 Tribunal Sonoma County Red is a $9.99 Trader Joe’s exclusive in the US, it is available in Canada and sells for $25 to $28 Canadian. This is a “kitchen sink” blend with the grapes and the percentages changing with each vintage, so if you loved or hated the 2008 or 2009, the 2010 will not be the same. This is a wine produced by the Vintage Wine Estates Group, who own Cosentino, Cartlidge & Browne and a minority stake in Kunde Estates, among other properties. The bottle says the Tribunal Red was “produced and bottled by Tribunal Cellars, Kenwood, California.” That indicates that they fermented at least 75% of the grapes and bottled the wine in Kenwood, but did not grow the grapes, since Kunde Estates is also located in Kenwood, California, it would seem that the Kunde Estate facilities where used to produce this wine. Virtual wineries using the excess production capabilities of actual wineries is a common practice in California. In 2008, when the first vintage of the Tribunal Red was released, there was an internet rumor going around saying that this wine was created to be a replica of Oren Swift’s The Prisoner Red Blend (about $40) and this caused the Tribunal to sell out quickly. I would image that about 95% of the people who purchased the Tribunal Red never heard of The Prisoner, I think the reason the 2008 sold out quickly (also the 2009) is the bottle label, this looks like an expensive bottle of wine. The bottle has a substantial feel to it and the label shows a scene reminiscent of a Victorian children’s book, the graphics were created by Proof Wine Collective who are doing some the best wine artwork going today (also check out the roster of winemakers who are working with them, they are making some of the coolest wines on the market). There currently isn’t any official information available concerning the making of this wine and since rumor has help give this wine a mystique, there might not be any information coming. The alcohol content is 15.1%.

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The color is a dark but see-thru ruby red. The nose is cherries and spice, with a little cedar plank and spearmint chewing gum, with a late hit of vanilla pudding.  It starts with raspberry and black cherry, French vanilla coffee creamer, Godiva dark chocolate and fresh blueberry, with a slight bite in the back of your mouth from the tannins. So many wines today have their tannins neutered that it is a pleasant change of pace to have a wine that is not afraid to show them. The mid palate brings cassis, blood orange and gingerbread spice. There is a good mix of flavors and textures occurring in the glass, the spice upfront is soft and subtle, while the spice on the mid palate gives a flavor jolt. The finish is somewhat weak compared to the body of the wine, but it does not go away.

The 2010 Tribunal Sonoma County Red is a bargain at $9.99, there are several excellent ten buck Red blends on the shelves today and while most of them tend towards lush and juicy, the Tribunal goes for rich and challenging. This is a wine made to be paired with backyard grilling masterpieces or just popping the top to relax after a long day. Get a couple of bottles now, because it will be gone in 2 or 3 weeks.


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Don’t tell anyone, but there is absolutely no correlation between the cost of wine and the quality of wine.