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Wine Review: ‘Game of Thrones’ line worthwhile for fans, wine lovers alike

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Many of the top vineyards in California started as a whim or hobby of famous people.

Fess Parker, who played Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett on TV, owns a very successful vineyard. Film directors Rodney Strong and Francis Ford Coppola, game show host Alex Trebek, actors Fred MacMurray and Paul Newman, and dozens of CEOs, entrepreneurs and so on all own or have owned a vineyard.

This association with famous people resulted in winemakers looking for concepts to put on bottle labels to attract buyers. Some vintners resorted to comic book-like labels with modest obscenities as a wedge toward the young, a venture that failed miserably. Next came naming the wine after famous people to attrac  memorabilia collectors — with one called Marilyn Merlot being the most famous and an Elvis Presley wine close behind. Another route was to play along with then-current TV shows of the time. “Falcon Crest” was a popular soap opera about the exaggerated trials and tribulations of a winemaking family. Ultimately, the vineyard used for location shots put out a wine with the “Falcon Crest” label. That wine failed.

Finally, the tables have turned, and a really nice set of wines are in the marketplace carrying the label of a currently super popular TV show, “Game of Thrones.” As I have always preached, it is not what’s on the bottle, it’s what is in the bottle that matters. In this case, what is in the bottle is excellent.

“Game of Thrones” 2016 Pinot Noir ($20)
The “Game of Thrones” 2016 Pinot Noir started off life as a winner. The grapes came from Oregon’s Willamette Valley, a region that has become world-renowned as the source of excellent pinot noirs. This is a big wine, full with the features that one seeks in a better pinot noir. The aroma is overflowing with berries, cherries and cocoa with hints of flowers and spice. On the palate, the wine seems to explode with the flavors of black cherries, blackberries and vanilla in the background. This wine ends in a soft and supple fruity finish. This is a wine that is closer to its Burgundian roots than many of its counterparts from California and is solid proof that a world-class pinot noir can be made in the United States.

“Game of Thrones” 2016 Red ($18)
Why take on other wineries and produce the same, old same? Instead, why not take a new and inventive path? That is exactly what the “Game of Thrones” Red is, a departure from the commonplace and a journey into the new and exciting. This wine is a blend of eight red varietals, predominately syrah, tempranillo and petite sirah. The aroma boldly displays black cherry, blackberry, vanilla and cocoa. On the palate, black fruit flavors combine with hints of leather and spice. The wine ends in a spicy, toasty, vanilla-laced finish.

“Game of Thrones” 2016 Chardonnay ($20)
I must start by saying that this is one of the best chardonnays I have tasted in a very long time. The “Game of Thrones” 2016 Chardonnay is a comfortable, friendly wine that combines all of the elements of a fine chardonnay into a mellow, soft, flavorful and easy-to-drink beverage. The wine features the aromas of nectarine, pear and citrus with vanilla, clove and a hint of oak in the background. The finish does a complete about-face and features citrus, in a seemingly unending stream. If you have become jaded with the current run of chardonnays, give this wine a try.

Wine columnist Bennet Bodenstein can be reached at frojhe1@att.net.

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