For affordable, Old World-leaning red wines, you largely can’t go wrong with Lenz Winery. Winemaker Eric Fry makes food-friendly, balanced wines year in and year out — and doesn’t chase jamminess or high-alcohol in hot years.
Lenz Winery 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot ($17) doesn’t have a catchy proprietary name, but it does delivery a lot of complexity and surprising cellar-ability for the money.
The nose is fruity, but not one-dimensional with cassis and black cherry fruit interspersed with notes of cigar box and brown spices.
Medium-lighter bodied, the palate shows intense — but not at all gobby or jammy — fruit with high-toned floral flavors, cigar box, spice and an earthy vein running its length. This is a lower-tannin red that relies on fresh acidity for structure.
On day two, some additional complexity emerged in the form of dried herbs. I’d recommend decanting for at least a couple hours.