Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Secret Red..For a Worthy Cause

One of the biggest things I admire about the wine industry is their support for any number of good causes. There are so many to choose from, but that doesn't seem to matter to vintners, winery owners, wine drinkers and everyone in between who happily give their time, money and wine in an effort to do some good in this world.

I'm writing this evening about Cleavage Creek. They're not a big household name, rather a small label making a handful of wines. In 2005, a man named Budge Brown lost his wife of 48 years, Arlene, to breast cancer. Out of that tragedy, he took action, bought the Cleavage Creek label and started producing wine. His first release coming in 2007 with subsequent releases in 2008 and October 2009. His mission is to support ongoing breast cancer research and build awareness while making great wines. A full ten percent of the gross (not net) sales are donated to fund research and treatment of the disease. Each bottle features a picture of a breast cancer survivor on the label and the website features their stories for you to read.

Recently, the good folks at Cleavage Creek sent me some samples to evaluate, which is what I'll be writing about over the next few blogs. The first wine I tasted was the 2007 Secret Red. The blend is..well, it's secret. I'll be making a stab at it later on. Of note, the always entertaining Gary Vaynerchuk just featured Budge on his show, here's a link to the video. Worth a watch!

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I opened the 2007 Secret Red about one hour before tasting it and poured it into my red wine tasting glass (yes, I do have a glass just for tasting red and one for white) approximately 15 minutes prior to the first sip. In the glass it had a dark garnet color that lightened towards the edges.

On the nose I got whiffs of ripe blackberries, vanilla, oak, black cherries, and dried currants. This wine wasn't overly jammy but I'd still categorize it as a "big" one. To me, a "big" wine has intense flavors, be they on the nose or palate. That's as simply as I can put my personal definition of a big wine. In the Secret Red those flavors transitioned from one to another nicely, which to me is a mark of quality.

After seeing what I could pick up on the nose, I was excited to taste this wine and see if what I smelled carried over onto the palate. Sometimes it's the case, other times it is completely different. Sometimes that's good, sometimes it's bad but overall I think it's just something that we encounter when drinking wine.

Right away my tongue yelled "chocolate and berries!" at me. Imagine a ripe, fresh black cherry dipped in dark chocolate, now imagine a slice of really ripe plum with the same treatment. There you have the fruit elements to this wine. I've thought about which words I can use to accurately describe the 2007 Secret Red, one of them might be voluptuous. Cleavage Creek made a wine that flows across your tongue, caresses your mouth, but has a firmness to the finish that's indicative of a subtle structure, a framework to the wine. There's a flash of heat that dissipates quickly but most of you will notice it, I suspect an aerator or decanter might be the solution to that. Further flavors included oak and the barest hints of rich, dark earth.

What's in the 2007 Secret Red? I've guessed the following: Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Syrah, Zinfandel and Merlot. Maybe, just maybe some Syrah or Cabernet Franc instead of that Petite Syrah, but I really can't be too sure. In all probability I'm completely off but it was fun to attempt a guess.

I think this wine is a solid B, fully deserving of a  recommendation. It lists for $18 at Cleavage Creek's website and I feel that's a good price. For $18, you get a well made, big, juicy red blend and the opportunity to contribute to a truly worthwhile cause. I admire Budge Brown for going out and doing something meaningful after experiencing such a tragedy.

This wine was provided as a sample from Cleavage Creek.

Beau Carufel

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