2009 Ghost Pines Red Blend $20
Luxe-looking in the glass, there's no mistaking this blend's aspirations. Though Bogle's Phantom remains the benchmark standard for bombastic, consistent, wicked-good funky blend at the $20 price point, this is another in a line of worthy contenders (Michael David's Incognito is another really good effort). Widely available, this red stands every chance of pleasing crowds and hitting popular pleasure points. Cab, Petite, Zin, Merlot, and Syrah may seem like strange bedfellows, but they're well integrated here. Leaning more towards juicy-fruity than serious, the fruit takes center stage and shines brightly. Cedar accompanies keeping things in balance and warm. It might be a cheap thrill of a wine, but who doesn't like riding mopeds every once in a while?