Cape Peak Syrah

Anyone who has searched the couch cushions for a handful of change knows that boozing on an extreme budget can be a risky proposition. To help you decide how to spend that meager pile of pennies, we've scraped the Bottom of the Barrel to review some of the cheapest wines on the market. This week: Cape Peak Rock from Fresh & Easy. The Vintage: Cape Peak Syrah, 13.5% ABV

This week we're continuing the Fresh & Easy vintner-themed Mad Libs with a special geography edition. Pull two geographical landmasses from a hat and what do you get? Jetty Knoll? Isthmus Basin? Arroyo Badlands? While that last one shows promise, the rest clearly are never going to sell. Best leave the naming to the pros over at F&E, with their Cape Peak series of cheap wine. At only three bucks, this syrah may be a win before even popping the cork.

(See, swirl, sniff, sip, and savor this bounty after the jump)

Appearance: The syrah was a deep, richly pigmented burgundy in color. The hue was lush and thick instead of weak and anemic, coating the side of the glass nicely instead of leaving watery rivulets in its wake. For all you analogy nerds out there (we can't be the only ones): Cape Peak syrah is to fancy name brand grape juice as Saludas tempranillo is to off brand grape drink.

Bouquet: Just like the vibrant color, the bouquet of this wine was also fresh and immediately accessible. Our sniffers detected a fruity, earthy aroma without being smacked across the face with the scent of cheap alcohol. Well played, Cape Peak.

Body: The fruitiness was mirrored in the body of the syrah, which had a rich blackberry flavor that flirted with sweetness but managed to stay well away from wine cooler territory. Notes of cherry and earthiness (sounds better than saying dirt or tree bark) were also prominent and pleasant.

Finish: The finish was moist and clean, without the bitter pluck that can sometimes linger in the back of your throat due to macnasty tannins. There was a slightly acidic bite, but it managed to be tingly rather than sour or pungent.

Pairs with: This syrah is a lovely choice for fall and winter foods. Roasted winter root veggies are an ideal choice. Parsnips, carrots, onions, potatoes, turnips, hell, go crazy and toss a rutabaga into the mix. No need to let the weather outside dictate your fall and winter food choices.

Lasting impressions: Cape Peak Syrah is one of the better red wines that F&E has to offer. It's light and refreshing while still managing to be complex and rich in body. Plus, it would pair well with many of those holiday fixings that are just around the corner.

Know of any screw top vintages we just have to try? Leave your suggestions in the comments section.

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Erica O'Neil