Looking for a fun wine, a funky blend that lacks pretension? Then maybe you would enjoy the 2004 Tandem Winery Peloton Red Blend ($28).
The winery website describes the Peloton as "180 degrees from terroir, this wine is about deliciousness and who wins the 'first empty glass' contest." This is clearly not intended to be a serious wine but rather something just to enjoy, a wine to please your palate without any worries about trying to analyze it. But does it match that description?
The grapes for this wine come from vineyards throughout the North Coast, in both Sonoma and Mendocino Counties. It appears that the composition and percentages in this blend vary each year. For the 2004 vintage, this wine included: 48% old vine Zinfandel, 30.2% Pinot Noir, 8.2% Chardonnay, 7.3% old vine Carignane, and 6.3% Sangiovese. As a comparison, the 2005 vintage used those six same grape, in different percentages, as well as adding three additional grapes. So it is a blend of 32% Carignane, 20% Pinot Noir, 18% Chardonnay, 15.6% Syrah, 13% Zinfandel, less than 1% Sangiovese, less than 1% Gewurztraminer and less than 1% Pinot Meunier. It is interesting to see the different white grapes used for the Peloton.
Besides the funky blend, even the wine making is somewhat different from the norm. For example, the fermentation is varied, ranging from wild yeasts to Brunello yeast selections. In additiona, secondary fermentation was completely spontaneous. This wine was aged for 16 months in French oak, only about 8% new. It is also a low production wine with only 2,110 cases having been made.
As for the wine itself, what did I think about it? This is a very dark, purplish colored wine with intense smells of dark berries and hints of peppery spice. When I tasted it, the first thing that came to mind was that this was a very juicy wine, with luscious black cherry, ripe plum, and blackberry flavors. There is some underlying spice but the fruit definitely dominates. It is a hedonistic wine, the voloptuous fruit bathing your palate. It has a long finish, smooth tannins and a good structure. It even had more complexity than I expected.
This is a wine you can easily drink alone, or drink with food, maybe pasta, a burger or pizza. In fact, I drank this wine while eating a bacon and hamburger pizza. Though I enjoyed the wine, it is a bit pricey, especially for the type of wine it wants to me. At its price point, it is not an every day wine. It is more a wine you might buy once a week, or even less. It is very likely to please your palate, but I would have liked to see the price around $20 and not so close to $30. So, this wine gets a qualified recommendation, as it is delicious but a bit pricey.