Liberating Wine-Drinking Experiences — Especially for Millennials

By Bob Johnson

Today’s millennials, by definition, can have no recollection of the Women’s Liberation Movement. That’s because they were born between the early 1980s and early 2000s, and women’s liberation activities took place from the late 1960s through the 1970s.

But now they have an opportunity for their own liberating experience, thanks to Jackson Family Wines and its new line called Liberated. According to the company, “The hope is each label will embody the millennial spirit of challenging conventions and expressing individuality.”

Toward that end, each bottling has a unique label that can’t be missed on supermarket shelves, and each varietal wine is given different treatment and made in an uncommon — a liberating — style.

Here’s how each wine is liberated:

• 2014 Sauvignon Blanc, Sonoma County ($17) — “Liberated from the Sauvignon Blanc trend of overly ripe fruit and lower acid.”

• 2013 Pinot Noir, Monterey ($20) — “Liberated from the Pinot Noir trend of overly ripe fruit and high alcohol.”

• 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County ($20) — “Liberated from the Cabernet Sauvignon trend of aggressive tannins and stewed fruits.”

As you can see, the wines also hit price points that are budget friendly.

But how do they taste? Well, these are not complex wines. The Sauvignon Blanc is simple and gulpable, the Pinot Noir is defined by indistinct red fruit flavors, and the Cabernet Sauvignon offers a melding of black fruit flavors.

Were we performing formal reviews, they’d rate in the low to mid-80s, which means there’s absolutely nothing wrong with them. In fact, if you’re looking for inoffensive wines to serve at a dinner party, these should please the masses, and they won’t break the bank.

And as the proud father of a daughter, I’d also suggest they’re perfectly fine for toasting women’s liberation.

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2013 La Crema Chardonnay, Russian River Valley

This wine was barrel fermented, and then spent eight months in French oak barrels, a third of which were being filled for the first time. Yet there’s nary a hint of oak in the aromas or flavors of this fruit-forward wine. Rather, it shows off white peach, apple blossom, honeysuckle, lemon and apricot tart, with just a hint of baking spice.

MSRP: $30 (August 2015)

Wine Lines rating: 91

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2014 Dry Creek Vineyard Fumé Blanc, Sonoma County

Grilled shrimp? Check. Seared scallops? Double check. Lemon-herb chicken? Triple check. This is the wine to open with lighter, mildly seasoned dishes because the wine itself is light and mildly seasoned — think: sage, thyme and Sauvignon Blanc’s varietal grassy quality. There’s plenty of fruit flavor, too, including green apple, lime and a hint of lemon. A refreshing summertime treat, but a sublime food companion throughout the year.

MSRP: $14 (August 2015)

Wine Lines rating: 89

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2014 Dry Creek Vineyard Dry Chenin Blanc, Clarksburg, California

You could scan the thousands of wines reviewed by Wine Lines over the years, and you would find only a handful that are both Featured Wines (earning a rating of 90 points or higher) and a Value Vino (earning a rating of 88 or higher while priced at $20 or less). Add this one to the list — and considering the suggested price of $12, it should probably be considered a “Super Value Vino.” Fresh, juicy and vibrant, it’s an inviting wine from its floral aroma to its mineral-tinged finish. Along the way, flavors of peach, apple and melon cascade across the palate. Sushi would be a good companion, but we’d suggest chilling it down slightly and savoring it solo with a significant other or a good book.

MSRP: $12 (August 2015)

Wine Lines rating: 90

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2014 Dry Creek Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, Dry Creek Valley

A Sauvignon Blanc with a Chardonnay-like mouthfeel, this is the first Dry Creek Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc release that incorporates estate-grown Sauvignon Gris in the blend. Sauvignon Gris is a natural genetic variant of Sauvignon Blanc, and we suspect this seemingly inconsequential 4 percent component is what gives this wine its elegant and rich texture. Bonus: The wine smells and tastes good, too, offering impressions of honeysuckle, lime, pear and cream.

MSRP: $18 (August 2015)

Wine Lines rating: 91

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2013 Wakefield Estate ‘Taylors Jaraman’ Cabernet Sauvignon, Clare Valley and Coonawarra, Australia

Rich, elegant and ageworthy, this exquisite wine seamlessly melds the qualities of perfectly ripened grapes from two South Australia microclimates and a mix of French oak barrels. The aroma and flavor spectrum includes black currant, black cherry, blackberry, cedar, spice and cocoa. Open a few hours before pouring, or decant for immediate enjoyment.

MSRP: $30 (August 2015)

Wine Lines rating: 92

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2014 Wakefield Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Clare Valley, Australia

If you’ve ever tasted the French liquor cassis, you’ll recognize the primary flavor of this wine, which also shows a mild minty note and a hint of dark chocolate. Not extremely complex, but drinking quite nicely now — no additional aging necessary, and an excellent value.

MSRP: $16.99 (August 2015)

Wine Lines rating: 88

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2014 Wakefield Estate ‘Taylors Jaraman’ Chardonnay, Clare Valley and Margaret Valley, Australia

Wakefield sources fruit from two distinct areas for two distinct reasons for this wine. The grapes from Margaret River provide “restraint and elegance,” while the Clare Valley grapes provide “mid-palate freshness.” The result is a Chardonnay with absolutely no “holes” — just plenty of enjoyment from first sniff to last swallow. Extremely easy drinking, it shows off notes of peach, melon and oak spice, framed by a creamy texture.

MSRP: $25 (August 2015)

Wine Lines rating: 90

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2012 Murrieta’s Well ‘The Spur,’ Livermore Valley

The Livermore Valley is one of California’s most history-steeped winegrowing regions. Murrieta’s Well dates back to the 1880s, has had its ups and downs through the years, but has been crafting sublime blends from estate-grown grapes for the past quarter-century. The red blend is known as “The Spur,” and combines Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Merlot, aged in a mix of American, French and Eastern European oak barrels. The 2012 vintage melds the fruit and oak flavors beautifully, displaying blueberry, baking spice, cherry and dark chocolate. Perfect for pairing with a grilled steak.

MSRP: $25 (August 2015)

Wine Lines rating: 90

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2014 Wakefield Estate Pinot Noir, Adelaide Hills

Like so many Down Under wines, this Pinot is all about the fruit — specifically, sweet red cherry and red berries. There’s also a hint of spice, and although the finish is a tad warm, the mouthfeel is silky and satisfying.

MSRP: $16.99 (August 2015)

Wine Lines rating: 88

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