The Aviary Birds of Prey Red Blend 2018 is a blend of 51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Malbec sourced from vineyards in Napa and Sonoma Counties.The Aviary line of wines is one of the Folktale Wine Group brands of wine; here is a link to their website for more information. I am familiar with their Alias brand, and as I recall, those wines were a good “bang-for-the-Buck.”The blend of grapes used for the Aviary Birds of Prey Red Blend 2018 is the classic Bordeaux Blend using four of the five grapes approved for Bordeaux, France. Carménère is the only grape not used, which is fine since it is rarely used in Bordeaux.The Aviary Vineyards wine brand started as a label that featured grapes from multiple Napa vineyards, and now the vineyard selection has also expanded to feature Sonoma County. What I found interesting is that the label only shows “California Wine” as its place of origin.Understating the wines particulars is unusual since it would be legal to show North Coast AVA or Napa County AVA and Sonoma County AVA. I found the Aviary Birds of Prey Red Blend 2018 on-sale for $12.99 (the Binny's chain in Illinois), and it lists for $18, and it is typically found on the web for over $15.A detail that stood out in the technical notes is the winemakers say this blend can be cellared for up to ten years and possibly longer. The Aviary Birds of Prey Red Blend 2018 is a drink-it-now wine, meaning that it is ready to drink as soon as you make your purchase.But wines with aging potential are made with different production techniques, and the winemakers are looking for different qualities in the grapes than typical value-priced red wine. Wines that can age have a different tannin structure and acidity level than wine that is meant to be consumed with the first couple of years after release.So, on-sale, the Aviary will be a different Red blend style than the wines that populate this price point. The 2018 vintage in Napa and Sonoma was one of the years that was not plagued by fires and was considered an excellent vintage.The name Birds of Prey is a shout-out to the owls and hawks that live around the vineyards and keep the pests a bay. While they do not say that the vineyards used are organic, they say the vineyards are managed organically with no pesticide use.The Aviary Birds of Prey Red Blend 2018 was aged for 12 months in a mix of French and American oak barrels. French oak and American are two different oak species with very different grain and when toasted, flavor profiles. Wines can use a mix of both kinds of wood to get the exact flavor they are looking for. The alcohol content is typical for California red wine 14.5%.Aviary Birds of Prey Red Blend 2018 Tasting NotesThe color a deep, dark, opaque, cheery red with black highlights. The nose is dark berries, molasses, black licorice, plum, spice, a little smoke, and black pepper.This is a wine with a smooth, firm mouthfeel and an excellent array of flavors. It starts with extracted blackberry, bitter dark chocolate, jammy raspberry, and spice with a slightly rough edge.The mid-palate shows a slight tug from the tannins (an excellent thing in quality Red wine), tart cranberry, orange zest, and another slap of spice. The acidity is well integrated into the wine's body; it lets the flavors unfold but does not get in the way.The SummaryThe Aviary Birds of Prey Red Blend 2018 is a fine Red blend at its list price. It is a complete bargain at its sale price.The Aviary Birds of Prey Red Blend 2018 is a large but very balanced Red wine with loads of flavor.
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