The Kautz Family are fourth-generation growers, not unusual in that part of the state, and the family-run winery's corporate officers are known simply as John, Gail, Kurt and Jack.
Leaping Horse Vineyards is one of their brands, and their 2016 California Red Blend brings a lot to the table. The mix is 46% Zinfandel, 40% Merlot and 14% Petite Sirah. That's an interesting lineup, and a winning one. The wine saw only four months in French oak, but the wood was new. Alcohol is restrained at 13.5% abv and the wine sells for $10 or less.
This modest red wine punches above its weight, or more accurately, above its price point. It's not a status wine by any stretch of the imagination, but there is quite a bit going on for a $10 wine. The grapes combine for a nose that's magnificent - full of campfire, caramel and a rack of spices. Dark fruit flavors keep things sweet on the palate, while that four-month smattering of oak leaves a mark, but does not obliterate what the grapes have to offer.
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