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st somewherePetit Verdot has traditionally been a minor component of Bordeaux blends, when they could get it to ripen. In sun-drenched California where ripening is less of an issue, it is a bit more prominent in the Meritage blends. It adds color, tannic grip, and herbal notes, but you don’t often see it as a stand alone wine and certainly not for under $10. So if you like experiencing unfamiliar varietals, run, don’t walk, run to Trader Joes (or call around to see which outlets are carrying it). As of know this is at the top of my list of inexpensive wines for 2014.

Smoke and dust underpin herbal notes all of which encase dense blackberry flavors. On the palate you get all of that along with prominent tobacco flavors on the finish. Intense and full bodied, with broad shoulders but despite the ripe fruit there is plenty of acidity to keep things lively. Excellent structure, fine-grained tannins support a medium length finish.

This is made by Castoro Cellars a mid-size producer near Paso Robles.

A steal for $6.

Score: 88

Price: $6 (at a Chula Vista Trader Joes)

Alc: 14.5

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