This is the work of legendary winemaker Tom Mackey, although it looks like that of CSI: Sonoma. You are seeing spots on the label. Splotches and splatters of red paint spill in a dozen patterns on black and gold.
The wine inside is a good value blend from St. Francis, a merlot leader. It's heavy on that grape, cabernet sauvignon and cab franc, plus zinfandel for California spice.
The combination makes for a juicy basket of fruit: cherry in color and the nose, with plums and raspberries in the mouth. You'll pick up oak, smoke and alcohol heat at first; then easy drinking and smooth texture.
St. Francis now makes some fine $25 Wild Oak wines, but Red is all you need for barbecue season. Make your steaks and brats proud.
Availability: $10 to $12, wine shops and liquor stores.
Chris Sherman, Times staff writer