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2002 Three Thieves California Cabernet, Napa

The wine industry in California is undergoing a slow revolution. First it was synthetic corks, then screwcaps, now tetra-paks; varietals like Syrah and Viognier were brought to prominence. Perhaps most controversially, people have actually started to make decent wine for under twenty bucks.

For some though, this revolution isn't nearly fast nor radical enough. Enter, The Three Thieves. These self proclaimed "jug boys" and "liberators of world class wine" have strode through the swinging doors of the saloon with guns-a-blaring.

Here's the plot: buy a ton of aftermarket wine (already pressed and fermented) blend it 'til you think its good, throw it in a one-liter maple syrup jug bottle and top it off with a screwcap. "Cowboy up!" as they say.

These three thieves are actually Joel Gott, Charles Bieler, and Roger Scommegna, and whatever else it may be judged as, this latest venture of theirs is a brilliant piece of marketing that in the tradition of Randall Grahm pokes fun at everything that is stuffy and established about the wine industry.

Does the wine transcend its cute packaging and guerilla marketing? Maybe. It's certainly better than a lot of the swill priced at $10 in Safeway, but while it is balanced, ultimately it's not something I want to drink every day.

Tasting Notes:
Pomegranate red in the glass with a hint of purple, this wine has aromas of cherry and a light touch of cassis in the nose at first, and then as it opens, more scents of dark berries. In the mouth it has a cool, clean, claret style feel across the palate with a nice balance of cherry, strawberry, and sweet toasted oak, but the flavors are lacking tannins and a substantial backbone that would turn this wine into something more complex. The finish is average and unremarkable.

Food Pairing:
I had some with a steak off the BBQ and it complemented the rib eye nicely. Its a good all-around red dinner wine that should be served with hearty foods.

Overall Score: 7/7.5

How Much?: $9.99

I picked up my bottle at my local Good Life grocery store. Find online merchants using Wine Searcher.

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Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson Wine Grapes The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson to cork or not to cork by George Taber reading between the vines by Terry Theise adventures on the wine route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud