This is the weirdest wine. Nearly inpenetrable ruby with purple edges. Initial nose INCREDIBLY gamey of horsehair and french-fries with a crisp layering of alcohol. It somewhat blew off after a half-hour or so into this AL-forward disgustingly-ripe fruit. My initial was This is the most unbalanced wine I have ever had. Then I let it sit. My second opinion was, I can totally smell and taste SMV. I have dranken SO much of this stuff lately I can totally FEEL Santa Maria Valley. If not SMV, then I can totally nail Nielson Vineyard. This is probably the 6th or 7th wine I have had from Nielson Vineyard. Pinot’s from Byron and Kenneth Volk, Syrah’s from KV, and now Grenache from…. do you remember this venture? History lesson time. Worthless wine trivia comin up! IO was a joint venture between Mondavi and Byron. I am fairly certain Ken Brown was the winemaker, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Mondavi had co-consultants around. They used to be in Byron’s little old shack of a tasting room and you had to PAY (omg!) to taste the IO offerings. We’re talking 2000-ish.
I passed this wine around the local suspects who basically always taste things, but almost never drink them. My 14yo, 20yo, and girlfriend all spoke of the burning AL and unbalance. The AL really is so horribly overt it makes the whole experience quite un-enjoyable. My 14yo just kept on about the finish. It is so bitter! It BURNS! Yes, it does. Over the middle there is a tad of fruit and glycerin, and then this AL you could barely get past in the entry comes blasting back and nearly kills you. And all through it is the gamey, barnyard over-ripe grenache thing. This is a pretty hard to enjoy wine. Fans of huge, over-ripe alcoholic, fruit-forward musses will not enjoy it and fans of barnyardy, oblique, fat, dense powerhouses will not enjoy it. Wait. That pretty much is what is it. A fat, oblique, dense, earthy um…. MUSS. I really can not enjoy this wine too much. Entireably drinkable, but….. OMG the AL. Everything is so out of balance. I guessed 14-8 and label matches. I really wanted to like this wine, and even though I got it for half price–STILL, that is not enough of a discount. ◊