Final Update! February Virtual Tasting - Hedges CMS Red 2008

This month’s Virtual Tasting is tonight from 7-9pm! The wine is the 2008 Hedges CMS Red. This wine is widely available in retail and grocery stores and costs $12.

What you need to do to participate is:

1. Buy this month’s wine from a local retailer or from the winery

2. Post your comments/tweets on the wine tonight between 7 and 9pm. Comments can be as long or short as you want (my personal favorite comment ever was “Blech!”). A good place to start is, did you like the win
e or not? Not sure? Think about whether you would buy it again. For those on Twitter, follow me @wawinereport. I will be using the hashtag #WAwine during the event.

Look for regular updates to this post and comments from virtual tasters starting at 7pm tonight. Hope you'll join us.

7:15pm Update: And we're off!

First, let's start with some background about Hedges.

Hedges Family Estate is a family-run winery located in the Red Mountain AVA. Tom and Ann-Marie Hedges founded the winery in 1987. Peter Hedges, Tom’s brother, serves as winemaker and general manager. Hedges has two basic tiers of wine. The first is Hedges Family Estate wines. The second is the CMS wines. Tonight’s virtual tasting wine is the red wine from this series.

On to the wine.

7:30 Update: Popped and poured. Cork is synthetic. The wine is at 66 degrees. Put in the fridge for about 20 minutes before opening to get it down from 'room temperature.'

On the nose right off I get a fair amount of Syrah aromas which is surprising because the percentage is fairly low (more on this later). Also get a fair amount of berry. Fairly aromatic with a decent amount of barrel influence on the nose. On to the taste.

8:00 Update: Descriptions of the wine from the winery:

Dark purple in color with a nose of black cherry, cassis, with hints of tar, tobacco, and sweet vanilla toast. Black cherry and blackberry fruit continue on the palate with dried herbs and licorice. A nicely balanced wine with enough acidity and tannins to make this a more serious longer lived wine that pairs nicely with a wide array of foods.

About 63,000 cases produced.

8:25 Update: Lots of discussion going on on Twitter. Search on the hashtag #WAwine.

8:45 Update: Overall, I like the nose of the wine which is marked by berries, barrel notes, and a fair amount of Syrah aromas. Interestingly, the wine is only 6% Syrah (48% Merlot, 46% Cabernet). After the initial pour the nose becomes more muted. The taste starts off decently but then becomes fairly tart and thins out considerably, especially on the mid-palate. The nose and the palate don't seem connected. I would give this wine a dot in my rating system.

Final Update: As I mentioned earlier, lots of discussion on Twitter tonight so less updating of this post. Thanks to @DivaTink @Sturat @OR_Wine_Blog @mykrro @Shona425 @heyjenk @nwwineandre @rperro @yakyakwine @nectarwine @hardrow @WAwineman @vancdarkstar @WDWines @rexofoly @tarynmiller @HollyMHouse @KionaWine @boxboylover @lmheppner @texasgrapes for participating (apologies if I missed anybody). Search the hashtag #WAWine to see the winding and weaving thread. Thanks to those who left comments on the blog as well.

Some interesting tweets. One was about the low margin of producing wines at this price point. This wine lists for $12 and can frequently be found on sale for considerably less. After the cost of grapes, bottling, etc., how much do wineries make on wines in this category? This wine is at a high production for Washington, 63,000 cases, so the high volume offsets the low per bottle margin.

We also discussed how much everyone had paid for the wine. Prices were generally similar - about $10 to $12. One person noted having bought this for $12 listed on sale from $18 (I wrote about shenanigans like this recently).

Another discussion was around what one expects from wines at this price point - a decent daily drinker, something to serve in a party setting, something that makes a person want another glass. Personally, while I score wines independent of price, I always look for wines in the value category to match or exceed the price point. If it's an $8 wine, does it drink like an $8 wine or a $10 or $16 wine. There is a lot of competition at this price point so exceeding expectations is important.

Thanks to everyone who participated tonight. We'll do it all again next month.

Sean P. Sullivan

Please e-mail any comments or questions to


  1. Have you guys checked out Tweetchat? You can have/follow conversation w/everyone using #wawine tonight!

  2. Jen, thanks for the heads up. I'll check it out.

  3. Us old people out here in the sticks eat the early bird special and start drinking wine about 3:00, so again we're halfway into this bottle.

    We bought a bottle of the '08 at the Yakima Package store for $9. They had the '07 too so that bottle's the back-up plan tonight.

    Popped and decanted about 30 minutes. Drank with grilled ribeye, baked potatoes, and romaine salad.

    On the nose is oak, oak, and more oak. Later a little leather and smoke snuck in with some eucalypus.

    Pretty thin on the palate especially against a big cow but smooth. Finish has some mint and green stuff.

    After oak, the merlot seems to dominate the cab and any syrah in this blend.

  4. Chris, no shame in starting early. 3pm is always a good start time for drinking wine. Good price on the wine! I got it for $12. Wasn't a big fan of the 2007 when it came out. Will be interested to hear your thoughts when you open it.

  5. Christopher! It's a phreakin' nine buck wine, 4 godsakes! The big cow ALWAYS eats a cheap wine for lunch.
    Where are you getting this mint and eucalyptus crap?? Are you doublemint-ing again??

  6. Chris, as WAwineman says, please spit the gum out and try again. :)

  7. This is Chris's wife - I made him spit out the gum, he's eating chocoate chips and still tastes mint.

  8. Uh oh. Mint chocolate chip cookies perhaps? :)

  9. Still Yak, Yak's wife - crap, the bottle is now empty.
    More importantly, who gets kicked off American Idol tonight?

  10. I remember the 2007 CMS being all about wood; total cherry vanilla bomb. If 07 was all about the wood, this is all about the green.

    Stem, stalk, and charcoal on the green nose. Underripe, green notes on top of cherry fruit. Was hoping the 13.5% alc would mean elegance; instead it meant under-ripe. No thanks.

    - Wanonymous

  11. Okay, back again for another try. Tonight's pairing is Sloppy Joes. I'm starting to think that my wife doesn't know how this game is played.
    The wine: I really need to give it quite a good swirl to get anything from this one, and it goes away rather quickly. Don't know yet how to explain the smell, but lots of Syrah type smells right away. I think I will "taste" a glass or two before I try the "pairing"

  12. Wanonymous, definitely a lot of vintage variation in this wine. I didn't see it quite as green as you did but I'm also sensing a fair amount of bottle variation from folks on Twitter.

    MD 20/20, I agree that it smells a lot like Syrah up front and then the nose becomes very muted. Strange. Only 6%.

  13. I think maybe I'm not supposed to dip Skoal while doing this, hunh?

    For American Idol, I hope they eliminate about 9 guys and 6 girls and cut to the chase. Andrew is our early pick to win.

    For the bottle variation, maybe they may 10,000 bottles, 4,600 with Cab, 4,800 with merlot, and 600 with syrah. I think I got a bottle of the merlot.

  14. Christopher! You are so hick sometimes!!! Argghhhh.
    American Idol? Are you deaf?
    I must get revenge later tonight...

  15. well well well...Chris is FINALLY on Twitter!!!!
    What's that cracking sound?
    Oh it's Hell Freezing Over!!!!!

  16. I just figured out where to insert the floppy disc.

  17. Okay, 1 glass down. Not terrible. Seemed like the finish was more like an inexpensive merlot. I think I will classify this one as...Drink if offered at someone's house, but not a "buy". This wine falls in the price range of most of our daily drinkers. Have plenty of these kind that I would fall back on if we were introducing friends to inexpensive wines. This just won't be one of them.

    Surprisingly OK with the Sloppy Joes.

  18. MD 20/20, certainly not a disagreeable wine. I always want wines to overachieve for their price point. The reason for this is that there are wines out there in this price range that consistently do, despite how difficult this would seem to be. This wine seems about right for its price point or perhaps a couple dollars less.

  19. Chris, bottle variation in large production wine is always interesting to me (as is bottle consistency in large production wine).

  20. Nose - coffee grinds, dirt, blackberry. Nose isn't bad, not killing me with love, but interesting. Light hints of other berries and possibly some chocolate. Not a huge nose though.

    Taste - thin to me on the palate. I like the initial palate but not after that. It has a lot of potential in the beginning, but after that it really sort of slides off and becomes a bit of a bummer on the palate.

  21. LI, agree that it seems thin on the palate. Will be interesting to see if it fleshes out as the wine ages a bit.

  22. The current wholesale price for this wine in western Washington is $8.74, which is a post-off from the starting price of $10.49. Typical retail markup on $8.74 would lead to a price of $12.49.

    - The Distributor Underground

  23. DU, thanks for sending this information along!

  24. A little late to the party, but here's what I think. I liked the nose initially, although the alcohol coming off the wine seemed very hot to me. Once I got past that, I found it reminiscent of red vines & sweetarts--that is, Sweet and artificial. Then it went to a brown sugar.

    If there's anything I've learned about a wine's nose, when it's sweet like that, the taste is probably not going to be big and fruity. I was not surprised to find the taste rather unimpressive. It seemed oakey but not rounded. It was thin and really (as Sean quoted me above) went nowhere. But it spent a long time getting there.

    This wine isn't unpleasant, it's just not that interesting.

  25. Kathleen, never too late. Thanks for the comment.


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