Tuesday, March 22, 2011

2008 Becker Vineyards Claret

At about $17, a bottle of Becker Claret does not exactly qualify as "cheap" red wine, which is too bad because it's interesting and worth trying, but a bit pricey.

Becker adjusts the varietal blend of its claret from year to year—the 2009 version is entirely different than the 2008, which had 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc, and some Malbec and Petite Verdot. The blend is in a Bordeaux style but as a product of grapes from sunny Texas, the wine is not. The 2008 Becker is a big, grapey New World fruit bomb, and yet it's not overly sweet. It's a lush wine with an over-ripe note of excess that's pretty enjoyable, the way over-ripe notes of excess sometimes are. (And along these lines, it also feels more alcoholic than even the average American red.)

The 2007 version seemed to have more anise and cherry, and the 2008 more plum and grape. In general, my adventures in Texas reds have not been well rewarded, but if you're looking to try some, this or the considerably cheaper Becker Iconoclast are good options.

If Becker Claret cost less and could be distributed more widely outside Texas, it would probably be a big hit. This is the kind of wine people would be excited to find in a grocery store for $11. At $17, it's kind of a patriotic purchase for Texans (the freedrom fries of red wine?). Generally at that price I want something as big but less sweet, or less big and more refined. Still, this is a distinctive and enjoyable wine.

Profile: Medium sweetness, minimal tannins, moderate acidity, big, full body.
Flavors: Plum, grape, dark berry
Rating: 86
Price: $17
Value: Overpriced (explanation)

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