Kendall-Jackson's new red releases showcase epic 2012 vintage in California

KJSyrahKendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Syrah California 2012, $17

Aged over nine months in French and American oak and made off vineyards in Santa Barbara, Sonoma and Mendocino — you have to look far and wide to find a better Syrah. It’s not your typical Syrah, beefed up with inky Petit Verdot and 7 percent Grenache. Aromas are blackberry jam, cherry, dark chocolate, vanilla and big spice. In the mouth, this wine is still a pup, lacing up those tremendous flavors from the epic 2012 vintage in California. This baby needs time to age and settle down. Flavors mirror the  aromas — dark berries, plum and spice — framed in firm oak and supple tannins. This is a powerful wine that might be more drinkable in a couple years — but give it a whirl now with grilled steak, burgers or lamb chops.

Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Summation Red Wine Blend California 2012, $17

Summation is K-J’s Vintner’s Reserve’s rendition of a dry red blend, not exactly like Bordeaux. This baby is almost equal parts Zinfandel and Syrah backed up with Merlot, Petite Sirah, Grenache and other varietals. Grapes are from Sonoma and Mendocino. It’s a beautiful blend — spicy and rich with firm acidity, supple tannins. You get the spicy black pepper of the Zinfandel, the plum and chocolate off the Merlot, and the inky color and tannins from the Petite Sirah and Grenache. This is a super wine for the price.

Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Zinfandel Mendocino County 2012, $17

K-J makes these affordable Vintner’s Reserve wines like they were their really premium brands — careful vineyard selection, smart winemaking, good barrels. This Zin surely is a drinkable, approachable, dry red wine at its price bracket.  It’s dense and intense with ripe plum, raspberry, blackberry and spice flavors. The oak is woven throughout. Tannins are chalky.

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