The Apothic Red 2018 is one of E & J Gallo’s multitude of wine and spirits brands. Gallo was founded in 1933 and is the largest winery in the United States, and is still family-owned. They offer around 80 different wine brands, from Andre’s Sparkling wines to single-vineyards high-end wines. Gallo also owns some of the best vineyards in California and routinely wins awards for vineyard management advances.
I couldn’t find tech notes for the Apothic Red 2018, but notes for the 2016 vintage are available, and the winemaking should be similar. They said Zinfandel leads the blend, then Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. I suspect the “led by” indicates that other red grapes can be added as needed depending on vintage conditions.
I know some wine aficionados give Gallo wines a bad rap since Thunderbird, Bartles and James, and inexpensive jug wines are part of their history. But in my opinion, they are masters in creating quality, value-priced wine. The Apothic Red 2018 is available in just about every place that wine is sold. Gallo excels at producing quality wine in large quantities.
The Apothic line of wine is a 101 level class in how oak influences the flavor of the wine. The oak flavors for the Apothic Red 2018 are vanilla and mocha. Adding exact oak flavor to wine is not easy; the species of oak matter, such as French or American oak. How the wood is cut makes a difference, I am unsure if the Apothic wines are aged in oak barrels or get the oak by other means.
The technotes indicate that the Red blend is aged “on” oak. I have found that when the winery says the wine is aged “in” oak, that means oak barrels are used. “On” oak seems to mean that the winemaker added oak stave or oak chips to the stainless steel vats. An oak barrel gives about 300 bottles of wine, so that high-volume wines need a huge number of barrels.
Value-priced wines that use oak as a flavor and not a part of long-term aging do not always have the budget for oak barrels. Maybe the Apothic wines use oak barrels, and maybe they don’t; what is important in budget wines is how does it taste, does the oak influence seem real, does it fit the wine.
The Apothic Red 2018 has a meticulous winemaking regime to ensure the extraction of flavor from the grapes. This is a rich, fruit-forward wine, but it is not a high alcohol wine. 13.5% alcohol is on the low end of California red wine, so they are getting the rich personality of the wine from extraction and not very ripe grapes.
The Apothic wines are everywhere, to the point that I quit noticing them. We have featured wine from the Apothic line over the years, but Apothic Red 2011 is the last time the Red blend made our pages. I think we are past due in checking out what this trendy Red blend has to offer.
Apothic Red 2018 Tasting Notes
The color is a deep dark red with black highlights; the front label is an accurate representation of what is in the bottle. The nose is rich and dark; there are red berries, blackberries, ripe, but not too ripe, dusty chocolate, black pepper, oak spice, and toasty vanilla.
The Apothic Red 2018 has a very smooth mouthfeel with mixed fruit flavors and interesting textures. It starts with a mix of extracted blackberry and sweet blueberry, followed by Starbucks mocha, a spice hit, and raspberry.
The mid-palate brings creamy vanilla, dark chocolate, plum, and sweet cherry. The Apothic Red 2018 is a comfort wine, it has the flavors you want and none you do not want. The tannins are sweet and stay out of the way. The acidity is balanced and allows the flavors to unfold properly.
- The Apothic Red 2018 is a crowd-pleaser of wine at a very pleasing price. I found it on sale for $8.99.
- I think of this type of wine as a recipe wine, not a document of what happened in the vineyard that year, but a carefully crafted creation.
- Terrior driven high-priced wines seem to get all the press, but this is the sort of wine that regular people drink.