Knotty Vines Red Blend 2016, California
Cost: $14-16
Don’t you love all the blends we are seeing these days, especially red blends?
There have always been traditional blends in places like Bordeaux and Italy, but many of those are under pretty specific guidelines.

The new blends can be practically anything, and winemakers are getting creative about what they put together. The only rule is that is has to taste good.

The Knotty Vines Red Blend is like that. The predominant grapes are Merlot and Malbec, with a hefty dose of Zinfandel and a splash of Petit Verdot and Syrah. I don’t recall seeing a blend just like that before, but it works.

The result is a smooth, sleek wine, with rich fruit flavors. It is a versatile wine that would pair well with a wide variety of food and is great for sipping by itself.

The wine is a deep garnet in the glass with cherry and caramel aromas. The first sip brought plum and caramel flavors with hints of oak. Later I picked up notes of black cherry. The finish is long and smooth. Besides tasting great, this wine has a velvety mouthfeel. It is smooth and balanced, with pleasant fruit flavors balanced by crisp acidity and touches of oak.
The blend is 47 percent Merlot, 38 percent Malbec, 8 percent Zinfandel, 6 percent Petit Verdot and 1 percent Syrah. The wine was aged in 20 percent new oak.
Knotty Vines also offers a Chardonnay, a Pinot Noir and a Cabernet Sauvignon. All are priced at $14.99.

The Chardonnay is loaded with vibrant peach, green apple, and tropical notes. The Pinot Noir is dark and sumptuous with rich flavors of black cherry, vanilla and oak. The indulgent Cabernet Sauvignon is packed with chocolate and blackberries with playful silky tannins.

They all are great bargains with great taste. They aren’t wines you will set aside and wait to see how they develop. You will want to drink these wines now.

The marketing campaign is interesting, too. A creation of the Rodney Strong Wine Estates, the brand debuted this fall. The name itself is meant to evoke the temptation fo sample something slightly sinful.
For instance, one promotional piece says, “It’s tim to stop denying your dark side and seduce it instead. Stimulate your wickedness, enjoy the electricity, and experience how good it feels to be naughty…Don’t keep your knotty side waiting. Let your knotty out.”

Maybe it’s not a wine you want to serve to your pastor, but it really is a fun wine to drink.

Winery: Knotty Vines is the new lifestyle brand created by renowned family-owned Sonoma County winery Rodney Strong Wine Estates.
It takes aim at an emerging consumer demographic, older millennials and gen-x wine drinkers. These wines are not aimed at wine snobs, but at people who like to drink wine and have fun.
Knotty Vines says it “takes wine tradition and turns it upside down, tapping into the energetic, daring spirit of modern-day experience seekers and giving them permission to indulge and create everyday emotional connections.”
Rodney Strong Wine Estates is a family-owned wine company that includes Rodney Strong Vineyards, Davis Bynum Wines, Knotty Vines, Upshot Wines and ROWEN Wine Company.
Rodney Strong sustainably farms 14 estate vineyards and produces wines from Sonoma County’s finest appellations – Alexander Valley, Russian River Valley, Chalk Hill, Dry Creek Valley, Knights Valley, Petaluma Gap, and Sonoma Coast. The winery was founded in 1959 by Sonoma County wine pioneer Rod Strong as the 13th bonded winery in the county.
The company aspires to protect and preserve the environment in all its operations through sustainable practices, solar power and fish-friendly farming.
Rodney Strong was a ballet dancer who retired and decided he wanted to make wine. He and his wife moved to Northern California, where they purchased a century-old boarding house and began making their first wines under the name Sonoma Vineyards.
In the beginning, he purchased bulk wine and blended and bottled it to his taste in the cellar of the house, while Charlotte operated the tasting room on the ground floor. A winery building he built in 1970 now serves as a tasting room and lower cellar. In 1980 the winery was renamed Rodney Strong Vineyards.
Strong sold the winery, and later it was bought from the Guinness drinks empire by Tom Klein, a Stanford M.B.A. with familial roots in California agriculture. Strong continued to hang around the winery, serving as a sort of winemaker emeritus until his death in 2006.
The Klein family, a fourth generation California farming family, entered the wine business with the purchase in 1989.

Goes with: We had this smooth wine with fried chicken. I love fried chicken. I have especially loved “Southern fried chicken” since I was in about third or fourth grade.
My favorite uncle was in basic training at Ft. Benning in Columbus and my mother, grandmother and I took the Illinois Central train from Chicago to visit him. We had “Southern fried chicken” in the dining car. That’s how it read on the menu and that has been stuck in my head ever since.
The chicken was delicious. We spent about a week in Georgia with my Uncle Gene and I ate fried chicken everywhere we went. I was a picky eater back then and my eating horizon was limited to fried chicken, hamburgers, hot dogs and maybe ham sandwiches. But the best was fried chicken.
I have been working on my Southern fried chicken recipe ever since I got old enough to cook. It’s still a work in progress, but it is pretty delicious. I use a lot of herbs and spices (sort of like the colonel) mixed in with House Autrey breading and bread crumbs. Most of the time I use my mini deep fryer because I can get the outside nice and crisp while keeping the inside moist and tasty.
With this meal I had a baked potato and Teri had sweet potato tater tots, so we both had a feast.
The Knotty Vines Red Blend is a great food wine, and will go with everything from soup to nuts, including grilled meats of all kinds, game, rich stews and creamy cheeses.
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