Chateau Ste. Michelle, the Washington state multi-national that does the 14 Hands, is on a roll. It placed four brands in the top 20 in a recent survey of best-selling $10 wines, only one less than E&J Gallo and as many as Constellation and The Wine Group (which does Cupcake) combined. That’s a very Rocky-like performance given how powerful its competitors are.
Equally as impressive is that a 14 Hands wine is a wine of the week for the second time this year (despite this one’s very silly name). I try not to do that sort of thing, but it’s difficult to overlook 14 Hands’ combination of quality and value. Which, no doubt, is why Chateau Ste. Michelle sells so much wine.
The Hot to Trot ($9, purchased) is a red blend – mostly merlot, syrah and cabernet sauvignon – that is simple but well made. It doesn’t try to do too much, and it doesn’t taste like winemaker Keith Kenison used his chemistry set to take it in any one direction. Look for some spice and lots of black fruit and that earthy Washington state feel, especially in the back.
Very nicely done for the price, and should please anyone who wants a glass of red wine but doesn’t want to make a big issue of it. Pair it with basic red wine food like meat loaf and mashed potatoes.