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smooking loonRed Blends are the new black. All the big wineries are making them, and their sales have been on the upswing for several years.  Although some of the best wines in the world are blends, this new breed of supermarket blends are  inexpensive and have the reputation for being sweet. They are aimed at a younger crowd just graduating from drinking soda pop.

Given that reputation, I’ve ignored them. But I’ve always respected Smoking Loon, a brand of budget wines made by the Sebastiani family, so I decided to finally try this one, which is a blend of nine grapes led by 28% Syrah.The results are decidedly mixed.

This wine is as aromatic as any inexpensive red I’ve come across. Dark cherry, smoke, dark chocolate, vanilla and cedar notes compete for attention; a very interesting nose. But for anyone accustomed to dry wine this is hard to drink.

The soft, fruit-forward palate gives way to big, cloying caramel flavors, and some awkward acidity that turns the finish sour. There are no tannins to integrate the acidity; the wine is seriously out of balance.

At 16 g/l of residual sugar this wine should carry warnings about tooth decay. If you have just discovered adult beverages then congratulations and give this a try. But it is just too sweet for anyone accustomed to real wine although it might pair well with ribs smothered in barbecue sauce.

Score: 80/100

Price: $5-$10

Alc: 13%

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