The Wine Curmudgeon, despite his crusade for wine labels that look like they belong in the 21st century, was more than wary about this wine. “friends.red”? Talk about chalk on a blackboard.
Still, the wine comes from Pedroncelli, one of my favorite producers and one that has long cared about quality cheap wine, so I was willing to give the benefit of the doubt. For which anyone who buys this will be grateful, because we’re talking $10 Hall of Fame quality.
The Friends ($10, sample, 13.9%) — sorry, I can’t type it with the dot red — is a red blend with mostly merlot and syrah, the kind of wine I wish more California producers were interested in making. That means it’s not only priced correctly, but interesting, with more than syrupy fruit flavors. It’s surprisingly rich and full, probably from the barrel aging, and something that rarely happens with wine at this price. Look for red berry jamminess, soft tannins, and the correct amount of acidity for this style of wine. Plus, there’s no residual sugar, which I thought I tasted in the previous vintage.
Doing a Mother’s Day barbecue? Then this fits the bill. It will pair with almost anything, and it’s soft enough for people who might not like red wine and will still please those of us who do. Highly recommended.