As an unabashed fan of California red blends, the Wagner family’s Conundrum is one wine that never fails to intrigue my palate. This vintage in particular piqued my interest as 2020 yielded exceptionally high-quality grapes for red wine across the state. Naturally, I secured a bottle of the 2020 Conundrum Red Blend for my own spirited evaluation.
|Exact Wine Name: Conundrum Red Blend 2020
Producer: Wagner Family of Napa Valley
Country/Region of Origin: California, USA
Grape Varietal(s): Undisclosed blend; known to include Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, and Cabernet Sauvignon
Type: Red Blend
Style: Dry, medium-bodied to full-bodied, complex yet approachable.
Vintage Year: 2020
Classification Status: None
Retail Price Range: $19-$30 USD
True to its legendary status among blends, the Conundrum Red Blend 2020 makes a spirited first impression with effusive aromas leaping from the glass. Initially, plush scents of baked blackberry, dark chocolate and sweet baking spice dominate, promising a fruit-driven palate. However, as it aerates, traces of potting soil, violet and graphite emerge adding suspicion this friendly blend may have a wild side.
Testing Notes: My Tasting Experience
As the 2020 Conundrum Red Blend opens up, rich smells like cooked plums, strong coffee, and fresh potting soil fill the air. The first taste is juicy and fruity, like blackberry jam and cherry syrup, with a warm spice like cinnamon and a hint of dark chocolate.
In your mouth, it’s smooth and soft like silk, with flavors of mashed cherries and red plums. Halfway through, you get some interesting spices like cloves and thyme, and a bit of black tea, blending with the fruit and making it more complex and savory. Even though it smells strong, it’s actually light and easy to drink, with a sweet berry finish.
- Delicious and complex flavor profile with a touch of mystery.
- Versatile food pairing potential.
- High quality grapes and winemaking techniques.
- Smooth tannins and easy-drinking style.
- Generally good value for money.
- The mystery blend can be frustrating for some wine lovers who like to know exactly what they're drinking.
- Price can be a bit high for some budgets.
- Drinkability 4.5/5
- Food Pairing 4.0/5
- Value for Money 4.0/5
- Personal Preference 4.0/5
The fruit flavor is the star, but the herbs and spices make it great with food, from Mexican mole to Italian eggplant parmesan. Each sip is a surprise, and it’s just fun to drink. Well done, Wagner family!
Appearance: Deep Garnet
The wine showcases a dense garnet core with hints of ruby red at the rim – an alluring shade suggestive of a well-structured, medium-bodied blend promising some evolution over three to five years cellaring. As I admire its saturated color, lush blackberry aromas summon another whiff.
Aromas: Dark Fruit & Savory Spice
On first swirl, plush aromas of baked blackberry crumble and sweet red plum leap forward, chased by traces of milk chocolate, cinnamon and sweet tobacco oak. Further aeration reveals damp soil, potting herb and pencil shaving nuances providing suspicion of something unexpectedly complex.
Flavors: Plush Yet Elegant
That aromatic complexity manifests on a surprisingly lithe palate with juicy flavors of red and black cherry mingling with thyme, clove and vanilla. Midway, notes of unsweetened cocoa powder emerge, adding pleasant grip, while integrated acidity keeps the fruit lively through the long, black tea-tinged finish.
Balance: Unexpectedly Graceful
Given the effusive aromas, I expect a heavier, more extracted palate yet am met with a deft balance – sweet fruit buoyed by herbal complexity, framed by supple tannins. This precision suggests fantastic value from such an affordable blend. The finish lingers with echoes of that initial red and black fruit.
Flavor Experience & Pairings
Like many drawn to Conundrum, I’m intrigued by this proprietary red blend every year. At its core, vibrant flavors of fresh blackberry, red plum and sweet baking spice captivate the palate. Yet as you indulge, hints of thyme, pencil shavings and cocoa powder emerge making each sip a discovery.
Ideal Pairings from My Glass:
Chicken Tagine – Onion sweetness and warming spices highlighted
Rack of Lamb – Fatty lamb matched by lush red fruit
Eggplant Parmesan – Savory cheese and herb notes enhanced
However, words hardly do justice to this surprising blend – the interplay of fruit purity, fleeting herbal moments and whisper of unsweetened chocolate across a polished, medium-bodied palate proves more experiential than descriptive. Sip after sip, Conundrum 2020 keeps you guessing in an immensely satisfying way.
Fellow Enthusiasts’ Impressions
Beyond my personal tasting notes, glimpses into other wine lovers’ experiences reveal Conundrum’s broader appeal:
Fruit-Forward Fans savor notes of baked plum, blueberry compote and traces of milk chocolate on the silky palate.
Savory Seekers appreciate hints of potting soil, graphite and baking spice woven among vibrant fruit flavors.
Food Lovers champion its versatility – enhancing everything from mole chicken to eggplant parmesan without overpowering lighter cuisine.
While personal preferences vary, most agree Conundrum Red Blend consistently overdelivers for the price-point with a juicy, fruit-driven yet unexpectedly complex personality.
Conundrum Red Blend 2020 FAQs
What is the blend in Conundrum red?
The exact percentage blend changes each vintage but typically includes Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon and other undisclosed red grapes. Winemaker Caymus Wagner skillfully assembles and balances each component.
Is Conundrum red a good wine?
With juicy fruit flavors, savory complexity and smooth, elegant structure balanced by integrated tannins, Conundrum overdelivers quality and consistency vintage-to-vintage, especially given its reasonable price point.
Is Conundrum a wine?
Yes, Conundrum is a proprietary red wine blend sourced from premier California growing regions then skillfully blended and aged by the Wagner family’s winemaking team.
Is Conundrum a sweet wine?
While fruit-forward on the palate, Conundrum finishes dry rather than sweet due to modest alcohol and balanced acidity. Hints of baking spice add warmth.