Tonight I've decided to open one of my vacation wines, a bottle I brought back from a truck stop in Baker City, Oregon of all places (see us wine aficionados can find wine anywhere!), the Hell's Canyon Retriever Red Wine, a non-vintage blend of Merlot (56%), Cabernet Franc (22%), Cabernet Sauvignon (19%) and Syrah (3%). The winery is located in the Snake River Valley in Caldwell, Idaho, so I probably passed in on the way to Oregon but I didn't stop. In any case, I stopped at a hotel in Baker City for the night, and went across the street to the truck stop for some chips and saw they had wine, and this bottle with a great image of a Black Lab swimming with a duck in its mouth really caught my eye, so I figured why not buy a bottle?
The color of the wine is a nice ruby red, a little lighter than a lot of Bordeaux style blends I've seen. The nose is enveloped with aromas of sweet cherry, licorice and cedar, with just the faintest hint of fresh mint. The taste is actually remarkably well balanced, with ample fruit on the front, laced with ripe cherries and blackberries, giving way to hints of charcoal and fresh herbs midpalate. The vibrant tannins make for a very crisp, tight finish that could mellow a bit over time, but as it stands marks the perfect yin to the sweet red fruit yang on the front end.
Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8, as it's hands down the best truck stop wine I've ever had! And as I recall it was a pretty good value too at about $11. Tonight I am pairing with some butternut squash lasagna that a good friend at work made and brought in for me to try, and a fresh salad. The wine complements the sweet and earthy flavors of the lasagna quite well, so it looks like I'm going to have a good evening after a long week!