Before I begin this review, I have a confession to make. I really don’t like cute, critter or otherwise “manipulated” labels designed to entice people to select wines on grocery store shelves. And I vote with my wallet by not purchasing these wines. There are times when I’m tempted, when I know and respect the winemakers for example, but I’ve successfully steered clear of all of these wine over the 4+ years I’ve been blogging and podcasting. I know I’m in the minority here, since there are so many of these wines on the market, so this strategy has got to be successful.
So I was amused when Jill from domaine547 sent me a wine from Black Sheep Finds called “Hocus Pocus.” This was one of 3 bottles won as the prize shared with Richard from The Passionate Foodie for getting 20% of the Wine Spectator’s Top 10 Wines of 2008 correct. This is precisely the type of wine I would shake my head and pass over on the shelf so I was curious how the wine in the bottle actually tasted.
Black Sheep Finds is a winery run by Amy Christine and Peter Hunken. Their bios on the Black Sheep Finds website doesn’t give up too much other than they both love wine (and maybe like each other quite a bit, too). Dr. Debs has a bit more background in her review of their 2005 vintage over at Good Wine Under $20. Besides Hocus Pocus, their Syrah brand, they also offer a Sangiovese blend called “Dalla Pancia” and a Cabernet Sauvignon called “Genuine Risk”. Interesting, if not a bit calculated, branding from the Mollydooker school of wine marketing. Everyone has to have a story to tell to sell their wine and this one is a good one made better by some pretty tasty juice in the glass. I’ve also got to give them props for focusing on the value category which will be one of the major trends in 2009 (more about that tomorrow).
Black Sheep Finds, “Hocus Pocus”, Syrah, Santa Barbara Country 2006 ($18/sample) – Very dark purple-black in color with aromas of blackberry, blueberry, licorice and sage. Juicy dark fruit flavors with mint and black pepper finishing with moderate, but polished, tannins. Great varietal character for the price. Only 550 cases produced.
Natural cork closure
Thanks to Jill from domaine547 for this wine, which seems to be sold out there (thus my WineZap link above). It shows that maybe I should not judge a wine by it’s label and pick up more of these kinds of wines. I’ll definately be on the lookout for Black Sheep Finds wines next time I see them.
Amy Christine says
Hi Tim, Oddly, believe it or not we aren't into critter wines at all either ! Don't know how we ended up with this label, but it just seems to suit the wine. It wasn't a marketing strategy at all – I mean in all honestly Peter and I just knew we wanted to make a wine our friends could afford to drink and had little thought about label design. Michael Kurtz from Heroist (and husband to Maggie Harrison of Lillian winery) designed the label – we gave him zero input. Funny how these things happen, but we've had tremendous response to the label, and who knows why??! If only we'd come up with the "Hocus Pocus Shake" we'd be millionaires, oh well, next time. Thanks for the write up 🙂 AMY from HoPo
Interesting story, Amy… thanks for passing it on. Whatever the path, the brand and wine in the bottle work for you so I'd keep going in the same direction. Looking forward to trying your other wines soon.