Another Washington State wine! I’m turning into the Washington Wine Report… only nowhere near as good. Today’s lucky target is The Spellbinder from Sleight of Hand Cellars, a kitchen sink red blend of Cab Sauvignon, Merlot, Cab Franc, Sangiovese and Syrah. It features another rock star label that makes me want this wine and this producer to succeed (the other SoH labels are just as good), but sadly it ends up as another disappointing showing from a wine that should have been better given the quality standards of its birthplace.
The Spellbinder is a two-face wine. On the nose and at first taste it is sweetness personified, but then somewhere in the midpalate all of that drops off the table and is replaced by acidity and bitter tannin and nothing else. It is truly perplexing — I went through two glasses over a couple hours with consistent results. It is a deep, lurid purple in colour, and its nose is all sweet, candied, almost artificial fruit: cream soda, cherry Life Savers and grape Kool-Aid (believe it or not, it’s quite rare for a wine to smell or taste like its main ingredient, but this one did, albeit in an overtly fake way). Those same flavours carry over to the palate…at least, until they instantly vanish and are replaced by bitter cranberry, sharp acid and grainy tannins. Unsurprisingly, this leads to a rather unsatisfying finish. I will resist making a “Sleight of Hand” joke about this disappearing act, but I really want to.
I got this wine from the Ferocious Grape, who will also be bringing in SoH’s higher-end single varietal Syrah “Levitation” (for which I have much higher hopes). My fear is that people will scoop up this bottle because of the killer label art and think that this is all Washington State can do with red wine, which would be tragic. I promise I will open a proven winner from WA next time I try a wine from the region so that I can restore the faith. In the meantime, if anyone else has had any experience with the Spellbinder, I’d love to hear about it. I really didn’t mean to start up a wine blog with 4 mediocre reviews in a row, but here we are…
82 points[Wine Jargon Notes: midpalate = see this previous post]