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  • by The Wine Guys, Tom Marquardt and Patrick Darr

These Wines Provide a Few Tricks and Lots of Treats


There was a time when Halloween was for kids. Now, it's also for adults who want to feel like kids again. With many kids thankfully long gone from the nest and thus unable to witness the debauchery, adults don absurd costumes and party. When else can fear and death be so celebrated?

We've been to our share of Halloween parties and, frankly, they scare us. All these otherwise normal people dressed in expensive goblin garb or outfitted with bed sheets and face paint is enough to make us duck under the covers. But, after a few drinks, even the guy with the bloody ax seems to be hilarious.

If you are attending one of these feral soirees, why not complete the package with a scary wine? Here are a few with names and labels sure to frighten.

  • Ravenswood Besieged Red Blend 2014 ($22). Perfect for Edgar Allan Poe fans, flocks of ravens circle the harvest on this eerie label. The blend includes petite sirah, carignane, and zinfandel, as well as lots of ripe juice with blackberry flavors.

  • 19 Crimes The Banished Dark Red 2016 ($12). This crime wave from Australia sure knows how to have fun with wine. The storied label is pretty freaky, especially if you fear an escaped prisoner will show up on your doorstep on Halloween night. This multi-personality psycho is a bland of shiraz, cabernet sauvignon, and grenache. Loads of blackberry, plum, chocolate, and vanilla flavors. An Apple app cleverly plays the story as recited by a prisoner if you use the phone's camera to scan the label. Look for it under "19 Crimes."

  • Casillero del Diablo Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 ($11). Translated as "The Devil's Cellar," this favorite for the Halloween crowd sees an increase in sales at this time of year. Ripe, dark fruit flavors. The wine comes in a HalloWine gift box, making it a good gift for the host.

  • Cashmere Black Magic 2015 ($21). A luscious blend of petite sirah, mourvedre, syrah, and grenache, this dark monster will make your blood curdle. Rich and unctuous plum and blackberry flavors with notes of pepper and chocolate.

  • The Prisoner Blindfold California White 2015 ($32). Bone-chilling if you like your wine served cold, this label features a blindfolded prisoner before a firing squad. It is a delicious blend of chardonnay, roussanne, viognier, and other white grapes. Photo courtey of The Prisoner Wine Company.

  • Ravage Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 ($12). Knights merrily joust on the label of this cabernet sauvignon – an apropos label if you are dressing like something out of Game of Thrones. Dark berry flavors and a dash of mocha.

  • Apothic Inferno 2015 ($17). E.J. Gallo is hoping to continue its successful launch of this wine with a second issue. The first one became the best-selling, barrel-aged wine in 2016. It is a flavor-packed blend of zinfandel, merlot, syrah, petite sirah, cabernet sauvignon, and petite verdot.

  • SAVED Red 2014 ($25). The label of this wine, created by tattoo artist Scott Campbell, is actually quite elegant. However, we include it because by the end of the night, you'll want to be saved from the party monsters whose jokes have become more stale than the Cheetos. It's full-bodied, lush, and juicy.

WINE PICKS:

  • Outlout Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 ($25). Very generous aromas of licorice, chocolate and cassis with lush blackberry, cherry and pepper flavors.

  • Grgich Hills Estate Chardonnay 2014 ($43). We loved the broad expression and rich texture of this chardonnay from one of the most venerable Napa Valley producers. Ripe pear and mineral flavors, laced with spice, toasty oak, and vanilla, dominate the full-throttle wine.

  • Priest Ranch Sauvignon Blanc 2016 ($22). We loved the crispness and full fruit flavors of this big sauvignon blanc from Napa Valley. Aged entire in stainless steel to preserve the purity of fruit, it shows tropical fruit and citrus notes.

  • St. Supery Dollarhide Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2013 ($100). Okay, at 100 bucks, this is not cheap. But if you want a full throttle Napa Cabernet sauvignon that delivers on all cylinders, this is for you. Bountiful black cherry and cassis nose and flavors with the 100 percent French oak playing a powerful supporting role. Elegant and powerful at the same time, this is a beauty!

  • Cambria Benchmark Chardonnay Santa Maria Valley 2015 ($22). Ripe pear and apple nose with a hint of toast. Velvety and fat in the mouth with ripe pear and citrus notes. A lot of complexity for the price.

  • Argento Reserva Cabernet Franc Mendoza Argentina 2014 ($18). Elegant cherry and plum notes with some pepper in the mouth. Medium bodied, very drinkable and enticing.

  • Nanny Goat Vineyard Pinot Noir Central Otago New Zealand 2016 ($20). This a well-priced charmer from the up-and-coming pinot noir growing area of Central Otago. Very fresh, almost Beaujolais like, with bright ripe cherry fruit with perfectly balanced acidity. Very good value.

  • We recently tasted two current wines from Mt Beautiful Winery from the North Canterbury region on the South Island of New Zealand. The Mt. Beautiful Rose 2016 ($15) is made from 100 percent pinot noir grapes and exhibits a luscious mouth filling cherry, strawberry, and watermelon nose and flavors. We also enjoyed the Mt. Beautiful Pinot Noir 2015 ($26) that displayed bright cherry and cranberry elements with just a hint of elegant oak. A great package! Both of these wines are worthy of consideration.


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