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Wine of the week: Hedges CMS Red 2011

Basic CMYKHedges has made terrific $10 wines for as long as the Wine Curmudgeon has been championing the cheap wine cause, and this version of its trademark red blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and syrah is no exception.

There are many reasons to recommend the 2011 ($14, sample, 13.5%), the 25th vintage of this label: The distinctive Washington state fruit-forward style (cherry and black cherry), which speaks to respect for the grapes and not consumer focus groups; surprising balance for wine that offers this much fruit, so that it actually has tannins and acid to offset the former; and the price, which will be at least a couple of dollars less than $14 at most retailers.

This is a food wine, a little heavier than past vintages. This doesn’t mean it’s better or worse – just different, and there is nothing wrong with that. Serve it at summer cookouts, burgers and the like, all of which will play nicely with the wine’s fruity style. Grilled sausages, perhaps?

Finally, a note about the label, which is about as anti-cute as possible: Hedges has made a concerted effort to be different over the past several years, and that included forming a group to eliminate wine scores. The label, with its flourishes and faux fleur de lis, is part of that. I’m not sure I like it, but I appreciate the difference.

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