My favorite kind of wine: free

The fine folks at Mankas Hills Vineyards were kind enough to send me a bottle of their 2004 Amelie Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot.

For free. Well, they did have one request: that I blog about it.

The fine folks at Mankas Hills Vineyards were kind enough to send me a bottle of their 2004 Amelie Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot.

For free. Well, they did have one request: that I blog about it.

The fine folks at Mankas Hills Vineyards were kind enough to send me a bottle of their 2004 Amelie Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot.

For free. Well, they did have one request: that I blog about it.

Fair enough. So here goes:

The wine arrived, boxed, fully corked and intact. So far, so good. But busting it out would have to wait, as my wife and I still had a half bottle left from the previous night. We set it aside for later.

“Later” came sooner than it might have at a less alcohol-enthusiast household. The next night, before dinner—palattes fresh—we uncorked this new addition to our wine-rack.

Sadly, first impressions were not what we had hoped. Our initial whiff detected a bit of chemistry, instead of the “aromas of vanilla and oak, along with blackberry and mocha” the winemaker mentioned. Undaunted, we pushed forward.

The first sip did little to counteract our initial sniff, but it wasn’t spit-it-out bad or anything. And, as the wine passed over and around our tongues, it surprised us with a lack of expected harshness or chemical taste. In fact, the wine’s finish was quite nice. I wouldn’t characterize it with a strong fruit flavor, but with a complexity that was hard to nail down.

Halfway through the glass, our opinion of the wine was changing favorably. Either that, or we were drinking too fast on an empty stomach.

By the end of the bottle, we had completely forgotten that we were supposed to be reviewing the wine, and this is no faint praise. Because I’ve poured more than a few bottles of wine down the sink after only a few sips.

My belief has always been that “good” things exhibit a distinct, observable lack of “bad.” While “great” things demonstrate not simply a lack of bad, but an obvious superiority as well.

And by that criteria, I would consider this a good bottle of wine. While there was little that called for effusive praise, there was also little to complain about (beyond that initial smell).

Over and above the wine itself, you have to give Mankas Hills Vineyards props for having the ‘nads to put their brand into the hands of amateur oenophiles who have no other wine-drinking credentials than a college education. It shows a savvy understanding of, not only new marketing, but Google PageRank as well.

Well done. And thanks for the wine.

MSRP: $14.90/bottle; online special: $135/case with free shipping.