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round hill cabBudget wines pose a dilemma for the wine writer. These are the wines most people drink so if we aspire to keeping people informed about what they drink, we should write about them. But there is a seemingly infinite number of inexpensive ordinary wines, with cute labels and lots of marketing behind them,  that are largely interchangeable, and there is just not much to say about them. With the technology of winemaking having advanced so far, wineries are no longer making undrinkable plonk. But for under $8 it’s hard to make anything but a generic wine that lacks features that might mark it as distinctive.  I’m tempted to tell consumers go ahead and buy the label. What’s in the bottle won’t matter much.

This Round Hill is a drinkable Cabernet from a difficult vintage. A slight smokiness on the nose to contrast with the bell pepper aromas typical of cool-weather Cabernet sets this wine apart. Otherwise it’s a thin, medium bodied, inoffensive mid-week dinner wine with enough acidity to sing backup to your meal, although it turns a bit astringent and unpleasant on the finish. This wine avoids the excessive sweetness of some bottom shelf options. It doesn’t pretend to be big and avoids the sin of excessive ripeness. At the low end of its price range it’s a good deal.

Round Hill is one of Rutherford Wine Company’s labels, a family-run, medium-production winery in Napa.

Score: 82/100

Alcohol: 13%

Price: $8 Ave. (I found it for $5)

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