The Crios label is on that was created for the wines that didn't "make the cut" to be used under Susana Balbo's namesake label. My very brief experience with them, however, indicates that these wines arent lacking in any way, even as compared to their more expensive bretheren.
The Syrah-Bonarda ($14) is a 50/50 blend of the aforementioned grapes. Aged 9 months in 50% French and 50% American oak, this wine drinks very smoothly at 13.5% alcohol. One thing you'll notice with me is that I am very turned off by wines that are overly alchoholic. I think the alchohol maskes the nose and completely kills the flavor of the wine. Im sorry Parker, but that's just how I roll. Speaking of Parker, this wine came in at 89 points in the Wine Advocate (reviewed by Jay Miller) and carries an 86.9 average on CellarTracker.
Right out of the bottle this wine had a nose of luscious dark fruit with just a twinge of pepper. Just enough to make your nose hairs tingle a lttle bit. No wave of alcohol, which isnt surprising because I havent had a Susana Balbo wine yet that did. You could definitely tell the mix of the very juicy and plum-my aspects of the Bonarda with the spice of the Syrah. I enjoyed the nose quite a bit.
We let this wine decant for about an hour and that seemed about right. When we drank the wine it wasnt at all tight and was certainly showing us everything it had. To me, the wine tasted exactly as it smelled. Dark fruits with spice. Very juicy initially with the spice coming on the mid palate and the finish. It was almost like it lead with the Bonarda and finished with the Syrah. The finish was bitter, however, it was exactly the dry/bitter feeling you get when you drink Cranberry juice. Not the sugared up cocktail but the actual juice. This killed the wine for my wife who enjoys Bonardas for their juiciness from start to finish. It didnt bother me so much but I wouldnt say that it helped the wine. This is exactly why my wife doesnt like syrah (well, Aussie syrah as we havent tried any others), she doesnt dig the peppery-dry finish.
At $14 I dont think I'll buy this wine again. I'm not sure the 50/50 blend works for me. I think I prefer straight Bonarda or straight Syrah. And at the price, I'd rather pay $8 for the Colonia Las Liebres Bonarda all day. Id say Jay Miller is a little high on this wine and Cellar Tracker is more spot on. This wont dissuade me from buying Susana Balbo, however, just maybe not this one...