Big House operates out of Monterey County next to the Soledad State Correctional Facility. While rumor has long held that the prison produces the wine, that’s not the case — it’s just a gimmick, but a good one, for a really affordable and generally quite drinkable, venerable brand of wine.
We tried the winery’s three most recent, commonly-available blends. (Big House is now experimenting with some higher-end stuff, which I’ve yet to try.)
Some notes on each.
2008 Big House White – an aromatic blend of malvaltia bianca, muscat canelli, viognier, and rousanne, this wine is easy drinking, but a little sharp on the tongue. Viognier-led notes like apricot and peaches lead to a bit of a medicinal finish, with alcoholic overtones. B-
2008 Big House Pink – A big and fruity pink version of syrah, charbono, grenache, tannat, zinfandel, barbara, tempranillo, and sangiovese, it’s got a flowery rose petal and strawberry character but is undermined by some weediness and, again, that alcoholic finish. Comes across a bit like a fruit punch, but quite easy drinking when it’s very cold. B-
2007 Big House Red – The apartment standby, this blend of everything in the vineyard (syrah, tannat, tempranillo, petite sirah, touriga, malbec, aglianico, nero d’avola, grenache, petite verdot, and montepulciano) is arguably Big House’s best wine. Bold and inky, it offers pungency and jamminess, with some herbal notes atop the big plum core. Mild finish. B+
$8 to $10 each / bighousewine.com