The 2014 Mountain Cuvee from GunBun is a delicious red wine bargain. It’s a Bordeaux-style Cab-Merlot blend grown and bottled in Sonoma County, and I hope the winery survived this last week of California wildfires without major incident. They make this easy-drinking, smooth red, and you will enjoy this wine like you might a fruit-forward red that is less Syrah blend and more Merlot in its profile.
Grapes for this drink are, some quick research shows, sourced from the Maycamas Mountain range and originate mostly from two growers in close proximity to the vineyard. The 2014 is a blend of 56% Merlot, 41% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Malbec, and 1% Petit Verdot, and it is aged for 14 months in French oak. Yes, I had it with fish both last night and again tonight, and that’s more of an indictment (if you must) of me than the wine itself. I was in a red mood and just couldn’t fire up a chardonnay or grigio to go with tilapia etc.
I recently bumped into the 2014 GunBun Mountain Cuvee at a blind taste testing at my favorite wine store, and it ranked pretty high on my list as I tried to determine which of their masked bottles was the 2014 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon. I am not 100% sure, but I think my brother and I got a sample of the GunBun when we hit a tasting event at Fleming’s last summer? The bottle looks very familiar, and I know that would have been the only other time I’d been exposed to it or the name. Ah, yes, checking that link now (you should too) and it was their Mountain Cuvee. Liked it then (despite a different blend) and liked this ’14 for sure. You will appreciate as well–and I’m glad I have another bottle of these cellared too.
Lake Monomonac is the backdrop for this red blend, one of my favorites from Michael David winery and often featured in Notes. It’s a big, jammy red with just a touch of spice that’s a little more tobacco than it is pepper.
The 2014 Freakshow Red Wine is a blend of 71% Syrah, 25% Petite Sirah, and 4% Souzao grapes, and it’s presumably the dilution of the Syrah that makes me think there’s less pepper in play here. It’s going to sound ostentatious but know the Freakshow accompanied filet mignon, lobster, fresh homemade bread, a mix of yellow and green string beans, and plenty of other delicious accents. And it poured out rich, nearly chocolatey, for each glass.
Of the 2014 vintages, the winemaker comments, “Aromas of blackberry cobbler, toasted walnuts, espresso bean, and hints of brandy. The wine is weighty with a velvet-like texture boasting flavors of ripe brambleberry jam, toffee, and dark chocolate mousse…”
Much of that is true, and you should be drinking the 2014 Freakshow Red Wine just in case my tasting notes are even close to accurate. So release your inner Dog-Faced-Boy and let that dog hunt–as long as he’s chasing down this bottle you’ll be very satisfied.
Much like California Cabs, Napa Valley red blends have a special place in my heart. Given its reputation among wine aficionados and critics, The Prisoner had been on my target list for some time. I know friends have enjoyed immensely and I wanted to understand if the hype was real or just noise.
You know The Prisoner is the real deal after your first tasting. The scent is full and fruity, a mixture of cherry and chocolate, and no overpowering tannic notes. I did not decant the bottle and it seemed very stable as I smelled and poured. There’s some hint of spice and vanilla in the glass, but it was understated in comparison to a mass market Cab that I was drinking recently–in that wine the vanilla was out and in front of the grapes in a way that seemed artificial instead of innate. Not sure that makes sense as I write it, but by contrast The Prisoner seemed more nuanced.
Zinfandel is a big part of this red blend, along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petite Sirah, and Charbono, and no wonder the winery sources grapes from 80 different Napa locations to make their wines. Chrissy Wittman, winemaker at PWC since 2016, is now responsible for the legacy of The Prisoner, and after my first exposure to her work, I’d say its reputation is in good hands. This is a really enjoyable wine and I’d feel lucky to continue drinking The Prisoner again in the future.
Unless it’s gifted to you, you’ll need to buck up for The Prisoner, and you can find it listed at $47 on the winery’s website. (I paid considerably less, courtesy of my favorite local wine store…) It’s a great drink, one that makes your evening special as soon as you uncork it. But if you’re on a tighter budget and looking for a similar tasting experience, I would suggest you pull a bottle of the Jeff Runquist 1448 that Notes recently covered. Their impact on your taste buds will be very close, but The Prisoner makes a greater impact on your wallet so you have to bear that in mind too.