From the folks who brought you the Highliner Pinot Noir of Sideways fame comes the delicious Hitching Post 2006 Generation Red, a blend of 38% Cabernet Franc, 33% Merlot, 23% Syrah and 6% Refosco. Sometimes blends are the leftovers that don't fit anywhere else, but there's a definite logic to this blend. The Cab Franc comes from the cool-climate Alisos Vineyard on Los Alamos where Cabernet Franc (and also Syrah) typically reach excellent maturity without extremely jammy or alcoholic qualities. The Merlot is grown in warmer areas of the Santa Ynez Valley that should offer very fruit-driven flavors. Heading back to the cooler hillsides of Los Alamos, the Syrah is sourced from White Hawk Vineyard. Finally, a dash of the earthier and more structured Italian varietal Refosco is added from the famed Bien Nacido Vineyard. In theory, there should be ample fruit, earth and structure to be found in this wine.
I've had this wine twice, and the first time herbal and pepper aromas, likely from the Cab Franc, were fairly prominent. This time the wine showed an array of virtually every red and blue fruit. Initially there's an explosion of raspberries, then blackberry, blueberry, currant and cherry follow. While this sounds like a fruit-bomb, there's a nice freshness to the fruit that lifts it above the rank and file wines of this sorts. The acidity and tannins are sufficient to provide structure, yet not intrusive, which was probably the winemakers' goal since this wine is meant to be served young at their restaurant. The finish tops it off with a little chocolate, but it's mainly the fruit that sticks around.
This isn't hugely complex, but the fruit is layered and the flavors are seamlessly integrated into the medium bodied wine. No heat or heavy oak drop in uninvited on the party. For my palate, this is a top exemplar of a youthful, fruit-driven wine.
Pros: Fruit Forward, Accessible, Well-Integrated, Deftly Blended, Good Structure & Balance
Cons: Not Very Complex
Decant: Not necessary
Price: $18 from The Hitching Post
QPR: Good (out of Poor, Mediocre, Fair, Good or Excellent with Fair denoting expectations were met for the price point)