The 2009 Tribunal Red Blend wine was one of my favorite bargain wines of the year for 2011. It sold at Trader Joe’s for $9.99 around this same time of year. The wine was a big hit and sold out quickly at the S.F. Bay Area stores. Around Thanksgiving the wine resurfaced in a magnum bottle ($16.99), just perfect for holiday gatherings. The 2010 Tribunal Red blend just hit the TJ shelves this past weekend and I purchased a bottle to sample hoping that it would as good as the 2009 Tribunal.
The Tribunal is a mystery wine with rumors swirling around about the blend and the winemaker. Adding to the mystery is that the wine is Produced and Bottled by Tribunal Cellars of Kenwood. Do a Google search for this wine company and you won’t find anything other than reviews of the past Tribunal wines. Where in the world is the Tribunal Cellars? I asked my friend in the wine business to check her sources and she says there is no such winery, and she has no idea who there are. The two rumors circulating about this wine are: the blend is identical to Orin Swift’s madly popular wine called the Prisoner that sells for $38. The second rumor has it that David Phinney, the winemaker at Orin Swift, also makes the Tribunal.
I checked with the marketing manager at Orin Swift and she told me that David Phinney has nothing to do with the Tribunal. She also pointed out that all the grapes for the Prisoner come from the Napa Valley, while the Tribunal has Sonoma County on the label.
I called a TJ store that has a great wine manager and she looked up the blend for me. I hope she was not pulling my leg. The 2010 Tribunal blend: 23% Petite Sirah, 22% Merlot, 21% Syrah, 17% Dolcetto, 10 % Sangiovese, and final 7% is a proprietary grape that for now remains a mystery. Here is the blend for the 2010 Prisoner: 44% Zinfandel, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Syrah, 9% Petite Sirah, 2% Charbono, 1% Grenache with all grapes coming from the Napa Valley.
So, how does the 2010 taste and compare to the 2009?
This wine is not nearly as robust and complex as the 2009 Tribunal. I thought it was “hot” upon swallowing which means the alcohol has not been tamed. On the nose, I get white pepper and some red fruit. The wine tastes very young with light red fruit flavors and absolutely no tannins that I can detect. The wine is definitely more acidic than the 2009. I am anxious to hear what my follow Vintage Tasters think of this wine. I am going to give it 86 points. I gave the 2009 Tribunal a final rating of 89 points. Give the 2010 a try if you have a chance and let our readers know what you think.
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