The Bogle Essential Red is the most rare of wines — a sweet red made to taste like wine
Know two things about this wine: First, it’s a sweet red, and second, most of the sweet reds I’ve tasted – and I’ve tasted a lot – have not been worth drinking, even for people who want sweet red wine. So why is the Bogle Essential Red the wine of the week?
Because, somehow, the Bogle Essential Red ($10, sample, 13.5%) tastes like wine, and not better living through chemistry. The extra residual sugar is part of the wine and not its reason for being, which happens about as often as I write the cover story for the Wine Spectator. If anything, it won’t be sweet enough for people expecting a Cupcake Red Velvet sort of wine.
So how did Bogle do this? First, the winemakers kept the residual sugar to what seems like .9 percent, not much more than the level for dry wine and enough less than the RS for a wine like Apothic Red so that there is a noticeable difference. Second, since the Essential Red is made like wine, the winemakers didn’t take out the acidity and the tannins or add chocolate-flavored fake oak, so that it is both sweet and balanced. Plus, it has varietal character – you can taste the cabernet sauvignon and zinfandel in the four grape blend.
All of this makes it drinkable in a way that most sweet reds aren’t – a softer wine but not wine that is too soft. Highly recommended, but what else should we expect from Bogle?
Finally, I tasted this with the 14.5 percent Bogle Old Vine Zinfandel, a dry but jammy, very ripe wine made in the Lodi style, and it seemed sweeter than the Essential Red. Go figure.