Two posts back I wrote about the Clif Family Farm and Winery Climber 2008 White wine. It was mostly Sauvignon Blanc and a pretty good glass of wine.

I opened the 2006 Climber red tonight and “wow” is about all I can say. The white was ok. It was a little better than ok, but nothing special. It was a little different with a creamy texture thanks to a blend that included Muscat and Riesling.

But the red was a bigger and more powerful wine than I ever expected for $17. And, my litmus test, it’s a wine you would expect to find at a higher price point.

Much like the white, the Clif Climber Red is an interesting mix of grapes. The Climber 2006 is a blend of 32 percent Zinfandel, 28 percent Syrah, 25 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 11 percent Merlot and 4 percent Petite Syrah.

At first snarky glance, I thought the kitchen sink was missing. But then I put my nose in the glass and got the dark fruit and a big nose of oak and thought this was going to be an interesting wine. It has the spice of Syrah and the peppery finish of a Zinfandel. The Merlot and Petite Syrah add to the smoothness.

Sarah Gott is the Clif Bar folks’ winemaker. She is known for her time at Joseph Phelps, the uber-high-end Napa maker of Cabernet and their signature Insignia Cab blend.

She knows what she’s doing. This is a bit of a fruit bomb but I’d just call it a mouthful of big fruit-forward wine. It’s delicious.

The Napa Valley Register called this a bang for the buck wine. I couldn’t agree more!Both wines were sent to me for review as a sample.

I might buy the Climber White but I’d definitely buy the Climber Red. If you see it any where, pick up a bottle and give it a try.

Bottom line: An amazingly big wine for $17!

Send comment or questions to: hewitthoward@gmail.com

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