17 October, 2009

2006 Tandom Winery "Peloton" California Red Wine

In general, I'm not a fan of blends. A main with some added blend varietals or a GSM Rhone style blend? OK, Sure. But Meritages...or several? No..... No thanks!

The 2006 Tandem Peloton (and for those of you who are not familiar with cycling, the word "peloton" is French and defines a group, or collection of cyclists.) is strangely convincing me that I'm a bit too wrapped around the axle, as they say, on whether I'm a fan of something or not. We all can benefit by opening up our minds to the possibilities.

I know....It's tough when you're presented with several choices. Which is good? Which one to try? Yes, Yes.... but that's what the 20dollarwineblog is for: To get you to have More Great Wine!

We met Tandem winemaker Greg LaFolette at the 2009 Wine Bloggers Conference in Santa Rosa, CA where he introduced us to some sexy Chardonnay he was releasing and while that was awesome, it was beyond our target price point. This red blend, however, is right down our alley for the price point and is a composite of several varietals...8 to be correct and the vast majority of the wine spent 15 months in neutral French oak and under 10% was aged in new barrels.

So, back to the 8 blends, I think you could certainly say that Greg has an interesting and innovative philosophy and technique to winemaking. An insteresting note I learned: He does fermentation in milk tanks rather than traditional wine tanks as the wine tanks are larger and the cap that's created on the top of fermenting wine is thinner and easier to punch down.

In this case, he's focused on Pinot Noir as the main component (nearly 60%) in the Peloton and it's certainly out on the front of the group. At the same time, it's moderated by a fair amount (30%) of Zinfandel. The Zin brings more fruit, spice, acid and crispness to the grupetto. The others, Carigane, Pinot Meunier, Sangiovese, Syrah, Gewurtraminer and Chardonnay (yes, that's a bit of two WHITE wines) all are adjustment blends, each bringing it's own bit of practicality and necessity to the recipe.

Being a Pinot fan, I enjoyed the light raspberry nose and was very appreciative of the structure the added Zinfandel conveys. The mouthfeel is pleasant..not too full, with some tannin carrying a nice finish of cherries and bitter chocolate. Bring on the Holidays! Peloton would be a super choice for dinner with game hen, duck, squab as well as the always solid turkey or even ham.

Kudos to Greg LaFollette for taking us outside of our box. Here, he's doing something some might consider a Frankenstein wine, but I don't see it that way. Greg's too much of a thinker and has too much confidence for that. This is about something new, a different way of thinking and creating a very interesting and delicious wine by building structure and notes. It's about craft.

(disclaimer: This wine was sent to me at no cost for my review)

2006 Tandem Winery North Coast California Red Wine
Retail: $24
Grade: B+


  1. Hmmn, sounds interesting! Somehow I missed this wine at last year's WBC (wonder how that could have happened?)

    Thanks for the review--I picked up a bottle (for $21). I assumed it was a GSM/rhone blend and was curious what was in it and how it tastes. Now I'm really looking forward to tasting it and comparing notes with you!

    will I see you in Walla Walla at WBC 2010 in June?

  2. hey there!

    I'm breaking out the Peloton for a road trip and debating whether to have it with ham (we bbq'd a home) or salmon on the barbe...(we're also having a rack w/Eberle Syrah!) it'll be good with either one!


More than happy to have your comments below. Thx.