2013 Apothic Dark Limited Release

Region: California (presumably Lodi)

Price: $12

ABV: 13%

Varietals: Petite Sirah, Teroldego*, Cabernet Sauvignon

Sight:  opaque black, neon fuschia rim

Smell:  blackberry, sweet blueberry, slightly burnt chocolate cake, Raisin Bran

Taste: full body, black currant jam, baked blueberries, velvety tannins, raisins, chocolate mousse

Overall:  The color alone is ridiculous–they weren’t kidding when they called this Dark.  It looks like one part blueberry syrup, two parts ink.  It is absolutely opaque black, except for a fuchsia, crushed velvet ring around the edge of the wine.  The unfathomable blackness lends to an illusion of intense viscosity.  Everything about this wine’s appearance is brazenly announcing that this is some rich, thick juice.

It doesn’t smell like too many things–mainly dark fruits and dessert. There is a whiff of something like the crispy, slightly burnt bits you get on the edges of the pan after you’ve baked a chocolate cake, complimented by jammy blueberry filling, blackberry, and some Raisin Bran for good measure.  It isn’t cloyingly sweet, but it does smell very ripe.

On the sip, it is astounding.  I mean, jeezy creezy, for a $12 bottle, this wine feels huge.  I took one sip and felt full, as if a couple of ounces of liquid could actually be dense enough to be dinner.  Ripe, dark berries coat the palate, while smooth and dark-but-not-too-dark chocolate emerges and lingers long into the finish.  As the tannins give your mouth a little squeeze, the wine seems to expand.  The Petite Sirah is obvious in the shadowy power at play here, but it isn’t acting as angry or abrasive as it often does.  It’s hefty, and it’s brash, but it isn’t spicy or earthy as I expected it to be.  Instead, it’s sort of like that big, mean-looking dude it took you forever to finally talk to, but now you’re friends, because you realized he actually has a sense of humor, a heart of gold… and he gives great hugs.

I especially like that this wine can be decadent and saturated with dessert-like flavors, but it doesn’t veer off into being superficial and sweet, and more importantly, it doesn’t lose the delectable, mouth-watering acidity that comes naturally to most grapes.

This is a dangerous wine because you’ll want to just keep sipping at it.  Apothic brand, after your earlier efforts (Apothic Red, Apothic White…) I did not expect to respect you so much.  Kudos to you for producing something so indulgently delicious with such gravitas and dare I say dignity.

Now my only regret in life is that at this present moment, I lack a bar of chocolate…

*Teroldego is an Italian grape, widely grown in Trentino, dry, and somewhat comparable to Zinfandel, only with higher acidity.


If you haven’t checked out the wine tags that Clare Vivier made for us in collaboration with the wine Apothic Red, well, get to it! And, no, we didn’t mess up the pics on this post: These little wonders, which are meant be wrapped around the stem of a wine glass to avoid any mix-ups, can also be used as accessories—see the leather bracelets and hair band above. Basically, they’re as high-functioning as you are. Scoop them up now and gift them to your holiday-party hosts this month. —erica