- The Underground Wine Letter - http://www.undergroundwineletter.com -



A short time ago, I had my first experience with the Big House family. It was the 2010 Big House White which I featured in my article Wine and Closure (click here to read the article) [1]. There were three wines: the agony, the ecstasy, and the mystery. The Big House White was the mystery. It was intriguing, interesting, fun, easy to open, easy to drink and very affordable. So having been paid a visit by the Big House White, some of the other family members just showed up – Unchained, The Birdman, The Slammer, and Cardinal Zin. A few were left behind for reasons that the warden did not disclose. Perhaps they successfully escaped and are about to be subjected to a search party? Stay tuned! There could be more to this story! But, without further adieu, and at the risk of being arrested, please allow me to make the introductions of some other members of the Big House family who showed up at the Underground:

First, checking in at $9.99 from California, Big House Unchained Naked Chardonnay. Zowee! No striped suits here! This one is totally naked. Sound the siren, warden. Let’s hear it for nudist Chardonnay! Typically, at the Big House, the “bland pedestrian commercialized varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay” are turned away. You see Big House does not want to attract the “pretension” and “ostentatious palates” that are born out of a “popular, but heavy handed winemaking style.” So in order to keep out the rif-raf, Chardonnay is presented au natural wearing nothing but a birthday suit. Confined to stainless steel, it should be cold, but not so cold as to result in shrinkage!

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Second, checking in at $9.99 from California, Big House The Birdman Pinot Grigio. The Birdman has been around the Big House for a very long time. “Word has it that he watches over the vineyards and calls the shots.” A long growing season in 2010 caused this bird to make a delayed flight. But once fully developed, the “plump little avian” was ready to make his debut and set out on a quest to quench the thirst of all mankind. Certainly, this is a noble effort and one for which The Birdman deserves a pardon. After all he is a “Pretentious fly away when paired with grilled sea food or Asian cuisine.”   Big House

Third, checking in at $9.99 from the Central Coast, Big House The Slammer Syrah. This big boy is muscular without being fat. Yet he is not lacking in testosterone and is willing to take on the steroid boys. “His pairings in crime include barbecued pork, garlicky leg of lamb and wild game.” With these pals he does not overpower, but rather enhances for it is a team approach that leads the way to freedom. For now he’s still imprisoned but waiting to join you with pizza, burgers, and spicy kabobs to make an escape and more than sing sing for his supper. Big House2

Fourth, checking in at $9.99 from California, Big House Cardinal Zin Beastly Old Vines. “It’s the Cardinal Zin who comforts the straying souls of the Big House.”  The Cardinal implies a religious experience to drink this wine. A true believer in old vines scattered all over California, the Cardinal Zin is accompanied by a small dose of Carignane and other mystery red varietals. The promise is to deliver “fervent, fecund and frenzied tongue enveloping pleasures.” So if you have been missing these you need to drink at the altar. There, Cardinal Zin “has been known to elicit lustful feelings and cause mere mortals to covet those long silky legs as they drip down the glass.” Hallelujah! It’s enough to want you to break out! “Hallowed be thy zins.”

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So these are a few more members of the Big House family. Here’s how I rated them in the line up:

2010 Big House Unchained Naked Chardonnay California.
Sans enhancements or cover ups, this is a very nice  Chardonnay. It has a very light yellow color and a lovely perfume of apple, pear, and citrus with a faintly floral undertone. Very clean with no overpowering intrusions, the wine has a lovely purity of fruit with hints of apple, pear and citrus rendered in a light, elegant style. No bulbous heavy weight here, this is pure, light and balanced. And, did I say naked? With me and Chardonnay, it’s an obsession – Highly Recommended$9.99 750ML   $22.00 3L Best Buy   2-yellow-stars


2010 Big House The Birdman Pinot Grigio California.
With a pale yellow color this wine has a gorgeous floral, peach tinged perfume with a kiss of spice. It is light, fresh, and balanced, yet it is lush with lovely fruit and a floral, spice complexity and a nice finish. This is easy to love – Highly Recommended.  $9.99 750ML  $22.00 3L Best Buy 2-yellow-stars


2009 Big House Cardinal Zin Beastly Old Vines California.
With a deep color and an amber edge this wine has a lovely perfume that is plummy with a nice spicy, faintly smoky, briary nuance. It is rounded and soft with lovely spice tinged fruit that is seductive and flavorful – Highly Recommended.  $9.99 750ML   $22.00 3L Best Buy 2-yellow-stars

2009 Big House The Slammer Syrah Central Coast.
With a deep color this Syrah has a lovely perfume of blackberry and plum fruit accented by a faintly spicy, smoky nuance. On the palate there is lots of fruit that is soft and rounded with a tinge of spice and smoke. This is a balanced and very tasty Syrah – Highly Recommended.   $9.99  Best Buy 2-yellow-stars


And, just to add to the family portrait that is present and accounted for, here is my previous note on the 2010 Big House White:

2010 Big House White California.
Light yellow in color the nose shows a faint tinge of citrus and tropical fruit. On the palate the wine has very nice fruit in a lighter style with floral citrus notes and a nice crisp finish. It’s light and tasty. I would say the Big House could be Light House. And, it’s easy to break out given the user friendly closure. In fact, the boys at Sing Sing may be thinking of the ghosts of Alcatraz where the Big House meets Light House in the jail break – Recommended Plus. $6.99 Best Buy  1-n-half-yellow-stars (there’s at least a few bucks of fun in the price!)

What a group! These members of the Big House family have strong family values. They are true in character and style. They are well constructed and neither too fat nor too skinny. They are attractive. One is even naked! Yippee! They have strong pricing discipline and offer value. They are appealing and fun. They have a real sense of humor. And, they are easy to approach and user friendly. Go ahead. Break out and have a party. Invite some members of the Big House family. They will more than hold their own against a bigger crowd. You’ll love their style and compatibility. They won’t beat you up like some of the other guys.  And, you’ll have a blast without having to hold up the bank! This is especially true if you super size to the 3 liter bottle!

In Vino Veritas,Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard

John Tilson