She is not an owner and she is not a jockey, but Beth Liston has a stable of six Dark Horses worth following. Beth is the winemaker at Dark Horse, one of the new and highly regarded wineries in the Modesto area. As the winemaker, she is charged with the development of classic wines and newer experimental wines. And, she succeeds at both!
Dark Horse started as a project to provide wines in a specific price range. Conceptually, the goal was to produce wines which would compare at $20-$25, but hit a price point of about $7.00. As time progressed and the wines were developing, the price point increased to about $10.00, but at that point, the wines became leaders in the class.
Beth, a charming lady, a loving wife, a doting mother, and a devoted winemaker, has elected to go with both the traditional and the current trends. Traditionally, she has produced a classic Chardonnay which melts in your mouth. A current classic is a Red Blend, which exudes character and flavor.
The 2013 Dark Horse Merlot has fruit flavors at its base. Blackberry and blueberry are highlighted, but spiciness is also present. The finish is full in the Merlot, and it deserves the admiration given it by its devoted fans.
This is an interesting wine as it encompasses several less commonly used grapes to bring out it full flavor. The blend is Merlot (75%), Dornfelder (12%), Petite Verdot (6%), and the balance is a variety of assorted grapes. The Dornfelder adds color and acidity while the Petite Verdot brought structure to the wine.
This is a lovely Merlot and should be tried before it is a gone.
The second wine to consider is the dark Horse Big Red Blend. This blend features grapes from the US, Argentina and Spain. Dark flavors abound in the Red winner. Like its cousin, the Dark Horse Merlot, the goal was to have quality exceed Price Point. Beth Liston has succeeded in this exceptionally well.
The Big Red Blend is Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, Malbec and Petite Verdot. The Petite Verdon, though small in volume, adds magic to the final product.
Pinot Noir is the third wine in the stable. The 2013 Pinot Noir is definitely California. The grapes were sourced from local California vineyards and blended to produce a mild and gentle Pinot. This is a very balanced Pinot, and one which sets well on the palate.
The Chardonnay from Dark Horse is a sleeper. This is a VERY good Chardonnay. The grapes, sourced from the Lodi and California Delta regions, were skillfully blended to produce a light Chardonnay with distinct character. While there is an inherent oakiness to it, it does not overpower the wine. This Chardonnay belongs on everyone’s shelf!
The Dark Horse Cabernet Sauvignon is pleasantly tannic and has a chocolatey finish. The fruit flavors and savory aromas make it a favorite for lovers of a good Cabernet. This, at the price point, is almost a steal.
Finally, the Sauvignon Blanc. This is outstanding. Served chilled, it complements almost any summer meal. It can be served with or without accompaniments. The lush grapefruit flavors dominate this wine in a way that invites sip after sip. Again, at the price point, this is hard to find a competitor.
Beth Liston has done a wonderful job producing these six wines. They should be on your “Buy Now” list.
Have a great day and remember to support your local wine dealers!