Folie à Deux Winery Ménage à Trois Red Wine

This blend of Cabernet, Merlot, and Zinfandel is in what we would call the mass-market Australian style. In other words, bursting with jammy fruit, lacking discernible tannins, and packing noticeable sweetness (at just over 1% residual sugar, it’s technically off-dry). If you like this style, give the Ménage à Trois a swirl.

Thorn Clarke Terra Barossa Shiraz – Cabernet – Petit Verdot

Though definitely a fruit bomb, we found this one a little more complex than the typical Australian Shiraz blend offered at this price. The nose offers up tobacco, leather, sandalwood, and pepper. The palate entry is surprisingly tart, with a strong taste of sour cherry. Proceed with caution, though, as one of us thought the fruit was overripe. A blend of 55% Shiraz, 28% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 17% Petit Verdot.

Castano Solanera

The five years of bottle aging has not been kind to this one. (It rarely is for wines at this price point.) It’s leathery, dusty, and even a bit moldy. A blend of 65% Monastrell, 20% Cabernet, and 15% Tintorera.

Chariot Gypsy Red Wine

The Chariot Gypsy has generated much excitement in previous vintages. Having never tasted the earlier releases, we approached this one with an open mind. The nose is fruity and sweet, with some strawberry, vanilla, and even a little citrus. There’s something soapy, as well. The clean fruitiness follows through to the palate, which is devoid of tannins and slightly acidic. This is not a wine that will knock your socks off; it is not a $50 wine that you can pick up for a tenth the cost (both claims we have seen for previous vintages). It is, however, a good $5 wine.

Goats do Roam Red Wine

The Goats do Roam moniker is either a clever play on the fabled French wine region, or a corny one whose significance will be lost on most of its target consumers. We approached it with an open mind. The initial nose is a bit sour, almost cheesy. Then leather, toasted (nearly burnt) oak, and white pepper. There’s a not-quite-ripe blueberry core. The nose is marginal, but the palate sinks this one. It’s sour and hot, with clunky tannins and a sweet finish. These are flaws we would accept in a $3 or $4 wine, but not a $7 one. This Rhône-style blend consists mostly of Syrah, with smaller amounts of Cinsault, Mourvedre, Grenache, and Carignan.