In honor of Great Grape Day over at Wine Sediments and somewhat inspired by a slightly snarky post at Good Grape, I picked up a bottle of Napa River Cab to try. For those not in the know, this is a new brand from Bronco Wine Co. sold exclusively at Trader Joe’s in the U.S. like the phenomenally successful Charles Shaw (a.k.a. “Two-buck Chuck”). This Cabernet Sauvignon, along with a Merlot and Chardonnay, retail for $4.99 a bottle.Ã‚Â For this price, you really can’t expect a whole lot of varietal character or complexity and I can’t think of any other Napa Valley designated Cabernet being sold at this price (with the possible exception of the occasional fire sale).
I think of Napa River as a sort of vendetta wine since Bronco had to change the name of Napa Ridge after losing a protracted legal battle. Bronco founder Fred Franzia took the setback in stride and worked the bulk market to find enough Napa Valley AVA juice to blend into Napa River. A normal entrepreneur might have taken the same juice and sold it in the $10-12 a bottle range and done well, but Franzia is on the warpath with the Napa vintners who took him to court. Napa River is the result and, from this tasting, is good news for wine lovers on a budget.
Napa River, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 2003 ($5) – Dark ruby-purple in color with aromas of blackberry, currant and a tinge of bell pepper. Full and soft on the palate with blackberry and black pepper flavors finishing with a bit of concentrate sweetness and moderate tannins. Tastes like a $15-20 Napa Cab and a clear step up from Two-buck Chuck. Buy it by the case while it lasts.
Natural cork closure