Thanks to the good folks at Balzac, I had the chance to try the Parlay “Bookmaker” 2009 Red Wine. Parlay is the “blended wine label” for Ramian Estates winery. Ramian is the fairly recent creation of Brian Graham, a Bordeaux and Burgundy-schooled winemaker who now calls Napa home.
Many California red blends are put together to maximize something –tannin, a certain fruit flavor, et al. Graham says that his French experience taught him the importance of balance in blending, and he’s tried to use that framework for this series.
For this particular blend, he’s managed to cobble together a pretty decent balance for a big, fruity, unquestionably Napa-flavored red. It’s about 70% cabernet sauvignon with the rest an amalgamation of syrah, petit sirah, and petit verdot.
First sniff brought along strong vanilla, blackberry, and mint notes. Lots of dark fruit and pepper on the body. It’s fruity, but definitely not a fruit bomb. The tannins aren’t particularly heavy, which I thought was nice, and the peppery finish goes on a good long while. I thought it was a pretty good quaffer on its own and it’s quite nice with a chocolate-based dessert. I thought the price point was slightly high at $20, but it was certainly worth a $15-16 snag. (Graham says that this wine can be aged for 6-8 years. Since this is the brand spanking new vintage, it might be more in its wheelhouse in a couple of years.)
The Parlay label also has a Viognier-based white blend called “Payout.” Raiman makes a single-varietal “reserve” series and a higher end “J.Garret” series. Brian Graham is also the winemaker for Jack Wines, another fairly new Napa label. I haven’t had the chance to try those. Bottom line, a pretty solid wine. I’d be very interested to try it in a couple of years after the flavors have had a chance to even out a little.