Presidential Candidates to Roll Out Wines

Mario Andretti, Mick Fleetwood and Joe Montana are just as few of the celebrities who have attached their names either to wineries or wine labels. Now, two of the presumed frontrunners in the 2016 United States Presidential election, Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton, are following suit with their own labels, featuring specific bottlings aimed at attracting the votes of specific demographic groups.

Later today, Bush will attend a media conference at which Jeb’s Jugs will be introduced. The wines will be offered in 1,500-ml. bottles (often referred to as jugs) and will be priced so as to be affordable to low-income households — always a challenging demographic for Republican candidates.

“If we can get lower-income voters drinking more, perhaps we’ll be able to convince them to vote Republican in 2016,” said a spokesperson for the Bush campaign.

Wines in the Jeb’s Jugs line will be made from grapes grown in vineyards owned by large corporations and harvested mechanically. Keeping the target audience in mind, the wines will have fun names that salute family members, including Wouldn’t Be Prudent Primitivo, Mission Accomplished Alicante, and Don’t Mess With Momma Merlot.

Although no official announcement on the Hilary Clinton wine project has been made, Clinton herself has been dropping hints during recent speaking engagements.

“Isn’t it about time we had a wine made by a woman President?” she proffered on Sunday.

An appearance on Monday included this observation: “I sure do miss the good wine we used to have during my husband’s administration.”

While Clinton’s public proclamations thus far have only hinted at an impending wine project, documents obtained by journalists are far more specific.

One suggests that all of the wines must be made from grapes grown in vineyards that are sustainably farmed and “with complete respect for the environment.” Vineyards that receive government subsidies also would be preferred.

Another document outlines possible wine types and their target audiences, accompanied by rough sketches for possible labels. Among the wines being considered:

  • Fat Cat Cabernet Sauvignon. Target demographic: rich Republicans who make wine-buying decisions based more on price than quality. Theory: Purchasers may have discretionary income to contribute to the campaign, thus ensuring that they have backed the eventual winner, no matter who it turns out to be.
  • Blue Dress Dolcetto. Target demographic: scorned women. An addendum to the wine and label description suggests that full-case purchases could be promoted by offering a free bottle of stain remover.

Official announcements on their new wine ventures are expected from the Bush and Clinton campaigns soon.

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2013 Murphy-Goode Chardonnay, California

Murphy-Goode makes both Alexander Valley- and Russian River Valley-designated bottlings of Chardonnay that cost about twice as much as this California-designated wine, which reminded us of some of the Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnays of the 1980s. A nice everyday wine at an affordable price, what it lacks in complexity it makes up for in balance: aromas and flavors of cedar, butter and light tropical fruit.

MSRP: $14

Wine Lines rating: 87

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2013 Murphy-Goode Pinot Grigio, California

Brilliant straw in hue and possessing some prickly acidity, this wine is medium-full in body and can perform double-duty as either a tasty companion to food or a refreshing warm weather sipper. A marshmallow-like initial impression gives way to a fruit cocktail of aromas and flavors, including apple and pear.

MSRP: $12.50

Wine Lines rating: 87

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2012 The Hess Collection Chardonnay, Mount Veeder/Napa Valley

Little by little, winery by winery, vintage by vintage, the style of “California Chardonnay” is evolving. The big, rich, buttery renditions that defined the “genre” for more than two decades are giving way to lighter, brighter, cleaner and more harmonious wines — wines like this one, crafted from grapes grown in Napa Valley’s Mount Veeder appellation. A very pretty wine, it has a perfumed nose of white flowers, melon, sweet citrus, white nectarine and vanilla. And if you swirl the wine and close your eyes (in that order, please), you may even pick up a whiff of orange-sicle that’s common in Chardonnay from South Eastern Australia. The wine’s deft lightness makes it a good match for everything from fruit salads to orange chicken, and even dishes with white or Alfredo sauces.

MSRP: $40

Wine Lines rating: 90

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The 2012 Cabs from Murphy-Goode: It’s All Goode — and Ready!

By Bob Johnson

When there’s someone with the last name of Goode involved in a winery, or any business, for that matter, all kinds of marketing opportunities present themselves.

In the case Sonoma County’s Murphy-Goode Winery — established in 1985 by Tim Murphy, Dale Goode and Dave Ready — “The Goode Life” was adopted as a slogan, and the wine club was dubbed Goode & Ready. Murphy and Goode were the farmers, and Ready was the marketing guy who helped developed the winery’s fun-focused personality.

Now, three decades later, Goode is gone (he passed away in 2013 at age 79), Dave Ready Jr. is the winemaker, and Murphy-Goode is under the broad umbrella of the Jackson Family Wines Collection.

Ready learned a lot about wine from his father, and after working a crush at Murphy-Goode, his destiny was sealed. A winemaker’s palate is not something that should be wasted, and Ready had it. In 1997, he became Murphy-Goode’s assistant winemaker, and four years later, the “assistant” part of the title was eliminated.

Ready has said, “You need to let the wine show what it has in its soul.” That philosophy is apparent in Murphy-Goode’s collection of four 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon releases, three from the winery’s home base in Sonoma’s Alexander Valley, and one from Knight’s Valley, an appellation that straddles northern Sonoma and Napa counties.

The “Alexander Valley” wine was made from grapes grown in two blocks of the Terra A Lago Vineyard, which is owned by Ready’s long-time friend, Val Peline. The “Terra A Lago” bottling features wines from Ready’s favorite block of that vineyard. The Knights Valley Cab has been dubbed “Poker Knight,” and is quite distinct from the Alexander Valley Cabs. And the “Single Deck” Cabernet comes from a single block of the Alden-Ellis mountain vineyard.

Alexander Valley has an ideal environment for growing Bordeaux varietals such as Cabernet, and while Murphy-Goode has a large portfolio of wines at various price points, it is the Cabs that truly shine.

For the 2012 vintage, the “Alexander Valley” Cab is soft and approachable and ready to enjoy now. The “Terra A Lago” figures to be in its prime in four to six years. The “Poker Knight” combines the more powerful nature of Napa Valley Cabs with the more immediate accessibility of the Sonoma side. Finally, the “Single Deck” Cab is tightly wound and built to age. You can read our reviews of these wines here.

When it comes to Murphy-Goode’s Cabs from 2012, we would suggest this marketing slogan: “It’s All Goode.”

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2012 Murphy-Goode ‘Terra A Lago’ Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley

This is a tightly wound wine, so the first aromatic impression comes from the cinnamon, clove and vanilla notes, rather than the fruit. With time in the glass and plenty of swirling, however, enticing impressions of chocolate-dipped cherries and assorted berries emerge, along with a whiff of field lavender. A mouth-filling wine, it picks up a youthful, medium-grained tannic grip after mid-palate, along with a Syrah-like sense of meat and smoke. In the finish, a hint of cocoa powder mingles with the big dark fruits. Needs four to six years in the cellar to fully blossom.

MSRP: $40 (March 2015)

Wine Lines rating: 91

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2012 Murphy-Goode Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley

The nose of this wine offers up notes of black cherries, cinnamon, black currants, black licorice, and hints of brown sugar and cloves. In the mouth, there’s ample, plump dark fruit with a sweet edge, and the velvety tannins subside to reveal a nice chocolate note in the finish. Do you know someone who is ready to make the move from Merlot to Cabernet? This would make an ideal “bridge” wine, and best of all, it’s ready to drink now.

MSRP: $26 (March 2015)

Wine Lines rating: 90

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2012 Murphy-Goode ‘Poker Knight’ Cabernet Sauvignon, Knights Valley

Combine the power of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon with the much earlier accessibility of Alexander Valley Cab and what do you get? Most likely, a bottle with “Knights Valley” on the label, and this wine from that appellation can be enjoyed now or put away to evolve for up to a decade. The nose suggests blackberry, black currant, black plum, a hint of black licorice and a vague whiff (amidst all that “darkness”) of red cherry. The wine has a full mouthfeel, and the juicy black fruits offer plenty of flavor through the finish, where integrated, fine-grained, silty tannins make an appearance — and that red cherry impression re-emerges, joined by a hint of mocha. Impressive now, and may be even more so a decade down the road.

MSRP: $45 (March 2015)

Wine Lines rating: 91

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2012 Murphy-Goode ‘Single Deck’ Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley

This wine has a powerful, focused, concentrated nose that you’d normally experience only in a $150 Napa Valley Cabernet from a good vintage. Think: assorted red, black and blue fruits, joined by notes of cedar, tobacco leaf, graphite and a minerality not found in Murphy-Goode’s other 2012 Cabs. It’s all wrapped in youthful, medium-grained tannins that suggest long-term aging will be rewarded. On the label, you’ll find “crushed velvet” amidst the verbiage, and we can’t think of a better way to describe the plush mouthfeel, coupled with the tannic quality. Complex and delicious.

MSRP: $45 (March 2015)

Wine Lines rating: 92

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2012 Hess Select Pinot Noir, Central Coast

Nearly transparent light coral/ruby color, lightening at the rim. At first sniff, ample menthol-laced black cherry fruit is evident, with notes of strawberry and tea leaf. There is noticeable heat from the stated 14.5% alcohol. An easy to drink red – try it with your next roast beef sandwich.
MSRP: $28 (March 2015)
Wine Lines rating: 85

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