Friday, November 11, 2011

Tudal Wine Group: Tractor Shed Red & Honker Blanc

This feature is about two wines from Tudal Family Winery, a producer I hadn't heard of, let alone tasted, ever. I was sent two samples, their entry level red blend and their sauvignon blanc. The red blend "Tractor Shed Red", is priced at $12 and the "Honker Blanc" is at a suggested retail of $14. From there, the price goes up (and so does the quality, we hope) for the Vineyard Series and Signature Series. Sadly, I was not sent those wines to taste.

Unfortunately, the Tudal website is pretty useless, not giving current pricing or even current releases. A quick check on shows that the higher end bottlings are generally considered to be excellent, and the two bottles I was sent are considered to be good to very good. My tasting notes will follow, below the fold.

According to the backs of the bottles, the Tudal family has four generations of winemaking experience and have been making the Tractor Shed Red since 1997. These wines are made in St. Helena, at the actual Tudal winery..I think..It may have been branded as the Cerruti Cellars winery though, owned by the Tudal Group.Again, the website is rather useless so I was left to do research on my own.

Also on the back of the bottle are the words "Cellared & Bottled by Cerruti Cellars", so apparently this kitchen-sink of a red blend is produced under a different legal entity, from grapes that the Tudal family grows. The Honker Blanc has the same verbiage. More reading of the back label tells us that the "Tractor Shed Red" is an "Artful blending of noble Bordeaux and Italian-style varietals from each California harvest...". Unfortunately when I read that, I immediately conjure images of a $4 red blend from Trader Joe's. In other words, something that is utter crap.

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2010 Honker Blanc - 100% sauvignon blanc grown in Napa Valley. 13.8% abv, yes it's high but this is also Napa Valley. Aromatically pleasant, sweet melon, citrus, maybe a touch of apple. Where the Honker Blanc gets really sensational is across the palate. Vibrant acid, full of lime and lemon, green apple, a touch of sweet kiwi, and a hint of green jalapeno play extremely well together. Suffice it to say, I like finding wines at this QPR, especially with Napa Valley on the label. I didn't detect any alcoholic heat or out of balance flavors. Suggested pairings include citrus-glazed seabass, scallops and linguine, or pre-party nibbles. Well worth the $14. B, BUY recommendation. Bravo!

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2009 Tractor Shed Red - Now to the red blend, coming in at 14.2% abv. The Cerruti Cellars website reveals that the 2009 Tractor Shed Red is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Sangiovese, and Zinfandel. Like I said, kitchen sink. I couldn't detect any heat on the nose, which was full of very ripe red fruit and some peppery spice. I suspect this saw some oak chip treatment, but it's not offensive by any means. There's a pleasant ripeness at play, which makes the Tractor Shed Red very easy to drink. It's not syrupy sweet, and the tannin are enough to balance out the wine nicely, especially on the finish. What stuck out was how this drank like a $25 red blend when it cost a lot less than that. A solid effort, easy to drink, and let's face it, cheap. This delivers above the $12 price point and is a wine to have around when you just want a pizza in the middle of the week. B- and a BUY recommendation.

Two good wines at good prices, worth seeking out. You can go to the Cerruti Cellars website and find out who carries them in your geographical area.

These wines were media samples for review purposes.

Beau Carufel


  1. Always nice to have initial impressions belied, like the names as well!

  2. Tractor Shed Red is at Costco for like $7 in Northern California.

  3. $7 is a steal for a wine that good. It drinks nicely at the suggested retail price so anything below that is a bonus.

  4. $7 is a Good Price for this wine

  5. Glad you found the Tudal Tractor Shed Red quite nice for the price. We were just in Napa and visited the winery, where we were blown away by their higher-priced wines (and by the family-feel of their place--love their dog, by the way). We are excited to try their Costco blend as well, since normally we drink wine on the cheap.