I have to say, it was a lot of fun receiving my Wild Child tasting flight of wines from In Good Taste. Inside a well-crafted box lay 8 different samples of wine, each 187 ml (roughly 1/4 of a standard bottle). All of the grape varietals were less common varieties. No Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, or Sauvignon Blanc. Instead I found Tempranillo, a popular Spanish grape; Barbera, which most often comes from Italy; Mourvèdre, typically grown in France; and others. And yet, all of the wines, regardless of where the grape varietal is most popular, were grown and made in California. The wines came with a small, helpful booklet that provided tasting notes as well as food pairings (both proper and “Wild Pairing”).
Let’s give each of the wines a try.
2018 Balance of Powers Souzao, Lodi – This inky, almost black wine exudes bold smoke and grape jelly on the nose. The palate is equally explosive with assertive flavors of licorice and black currant, as well as some unpleasant bitterness that comes more to the fore on the finish. B-
2018 Fortune Favors Mourvèdre, San Francisco Bay – This dark purple wine smells like blackberries and grape jelly. The palate follows suit but includes some black pepper, a bit of bitterness, and some unexpectedly firm tannins for a very drying finish. You can tell this is a high alcohol wine (15%), but it isn’t overpowering. The booklet suggests pairing it with meats like short ribs and pork shoulder, and I agree. B-
2019 Game Theory Gewürztraminer, Santa Barbara – Pale straw in color, this wine has a very light nose, offering rose petal along with some pineapple and citrus. On the palate, the flower notes and pineapple remain restrained and are joined by some nice spice and a touch of bitterness. B
2020 La Pluma Vermentino, Clement Hills – This wine pours very pale in the glass, and the nose offers nice aromas of peach and citrus. When I took a sip, there was light citrus, mostly lemon, along with a bit of an unpleasant bitterness. The wine has light body and medium acidity. C+
2020 Stealing Thunder Rosé, Mendocino County – In a rarity for rosé, this wine is made with sangiovese grapes. Light salmon in color, it offers watermelon and berries on the nose. On the palate, those notes come forward and are accompanied by a savory, almost briny character and significant acidity. In the booklet that accompanies the wines, they suggest pairing this wine with Teriyaki chicken and I agree, but with summer approaching, I would love to have it with grilled chicken with bbq sauce. B+
2019 Red Tide Barbera, California – This ruby colored California Barbera has a very restrained nose and offers mere hints of the bold cherry character that come rushing forward with the first sip. While fairly light bodied for a red, the wine has medium-high acidity that should make it pair well with food. B
2018 Game Theory Tempranillo, Lodi – Deep ruby colored, this wine offers bold notes of black cherry, cocoa, vanilla, and cedar. Taking a sip, the black cherry and cocoa come rushing forward, but the other notes follow, and the wine closes with light, pleasant tannins. A slight bitterness appears as I go through the glass, but this wine is quite nice and would likely be a crowd pleaser. A-
2018 Mr. B Sangiovese, Mendocino County – So purple, it’s almost black. On the nose and palate, this wine is restrained, showing black cherry and vanilla, and finishing with gentle, drying tannins. With medium acidity and some tannic structure, this wine should go nicely with a range of foods. B+
In Good Taste’s Wild Child flight provides the exciting opportunity to try a wide range of grapes that appear less frequently on American wine lists. For someone new to wine, it can expand one’s experience and introduce new favorites. Personally, I would have preferred to try samples from the countries where the grape varietals were more widely produced. A good Mourvèdre from France and a Barbera from Italy might provide a better introduction to the varietals than California wines. But that could end up costing more, and the wine flights from In Good Taste are priced very well for the experiences they offer. In Good Taste flights would make a fantastic gift for someone who has just started to love wine. They aren’t the best quality, but the overall value is exceptional.
Overall rating: B+ / $65 for 8 (187 ml) bottles