Tasting Notes: 14 Hands Stampede Red Blend

As you know, one effort of this blog is to taste wines that are widely and easily available. Now, I am a big fan of local wine shops because of their knowledgeable staff and carefully curated wine selections, and I love Total Wine because of their wide range of grape and region offerings and price ranges. But the bad news? There isn't always a wine shop or Total Wine around! Sometimes Harris Teeter or Kroger or Publix or whatever your local grocer may be is the best choice around. For that reason, I make it a point to purchase options from these places, and this choice was one of those selections.

The Facts

  • Producer: 14 Hands Winery
  • Region: Columbia Valley, Washington State
  • Vintage: 2014
  • Variety: Red Blend - Syrah, Merlot, Viognier, Cabernet Sauvignon, Mourvedre 
  • Where I purchased: Grocery store - Harris Teeter
  • Price: $11.99
  • Eyes: This wine was a deep red color with some purple in it. Definitely not as deep as a Syrah or even a Cab, which makes sense now considering Merlot and Viognier (a white grape) is included.

    As a sidenote, I was surprised that Viognier (pronounced vee-ohn-yay) was included in the red blend, but after a quick search, I found that it is actually not uncommon. Viognier grows alongside Syrah in the Northern Rhone Valley in France and French wine laws allow the combination. Viognier is very aromatic (think peach, pear, and floral), so it is blended to give the other wine an aromatic boost. 
  • Nose: Despite the Viognier being in the blend, I would not say that this wine had those typical aromas. As expected, I picked up on the berry and cherry aromas, but I also got vanilla or a syrupy smell on the bouquet. It reminded me of the smell of a flat cup of Coke... heavy, a little sweet, and it kind of lingered.
  • Mouth: When I tasted this wine, I primarily tasted two things: berries (blackberry and cherry) and vanilla. There was a hint of spice, likely from the Syrah, but overall, the wine wasn't overly complicated. The wine bottle touts cedar, but to be honest with you, I still need to decipher what that smells and tastes like. I didn't pick up on anything overly "woodsy" but maybe that is also where the spice or bite comes from. I guess I need to go find some cedar to smell!
  • Thoughts: This wine was decent for a red blend at this price point. I listened to a podcast on the red blend trend from Wine For Normal People (you can listen to it here or check it out on iTunes), and Elizabeth mentioned how lower tier red blends tend to be what's left over versus an intentional blend (ex: Dave Phinney's Prisoner or Chappellet's Mountain Cuvee, which are both delicious). This causes the wine to be flat, lacking character of the grapes, and usually on the sweeter side. That was eye opening to me, and I definitely pick up on that in cheaper red blends. This wine had some of that, but I actually thought this one was better than most. The vanilla was a little strong in my opinion, but the hint of spice helped it be a step above others I've tried. Will this be a consistent purchase in our household? No. However, I know the 14 Hands brand is widely available, and this isn't a bad choice when my options are limited.