Chain Gang Vineyard Wines

A couple weeks ago, I was at my local HEB doing what I do best (trying all the samples at the Cooking Connection Kitchen), when I saw a wine that caught my eye. The label reminded me of something out of an old 1950’s gangster movie. It was an old black and white newspaper featuring a woman who was obviously wanted for something because the headline read REPEAT OFFENDER in bold. (Man, I love a wine bottle with a creative label!) As I continued perusing down the wine aisles (like those moms in the back-to-school commercials), I came across what appeared to be Repeat Offender’s partner-in-crime, First Timer. Awww, First Timer and Repeat Offender?! I know…I’m a wine dork, but this is such a cute concept for a wine brand. I was definitely taking both of these bottles home!

I had previously planned to review these bottles later this month, but ironically I’ve been dealing with my own repeat offender. Isn’t it funny how life imitates wine…or maybe it’s the other way around? But you see, when life hands you lemons, why make lemonade when you can drink wine? #imjustsayin

Let’s see if these Chain Gang wines are worth the time.

Ty’s Takeaways…


Chain Gang Vineyards: First Timer California Red Wine
Price: $8.98
Year: 2013
Region: Sonoma County
Retailer: HEB (or check your local grocery store)

Let’s start with First Timer. This red wine is like that guy you meet who you may have reservations about…maybe he’s a little rough around the edges or he’s a little too young…who knows what the case may be?! Lol, but for whatever reasons you stick around to see how things evolve.

First Timer is a Californian red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes. As soon as I unscrewed the cap, the aromas immediately rose from the bottle. I dunno, but for some reason I immediately thought of the genie from Aladdin (my fav Disney movie) as he appeared from the lamp. Initially, this wine reminded me of the Abercrombie and Fitch store scent that everyone raves about…it smelled very rustic…almost like the trees in a forest. The aromas were very rugged. That was until I gave the glass a good swirl and the aromas opened up even more. It was then that the spicy and sweet undertones came through.

The first sip of this red blend took me by surprise. The initial tartness can be a little offsetting if you’re not used to drinking bitter wines. However, I still found it very intriguing. Instantly, I wanted to go back for more. Once you get past its tartness, other elements of the wine become noticeable. First Timer is very light with dark, blackberry flavors. The tannins just sit in your mouth and are very enjoyable because of the fruit-forward flavors.

Like the guy above, this wine may take a while to get used, but it has potential. Once you get past the different layers, you’ll be able to fully appreciate its complexity.

Overall Rating: 3.5 Corks (I know it sucks when you break the

Buzzworthy: First Timer California Red Wine has 13 percent ACL by volume. Again, most reds range from 12-15 percent. I can assure you that this won’t be my last time drinking this wine.


Chain Gang Vineyards: Repeat Offender Central Coast Pinot Noir
Price: $16.98
Year: 2014
Region: Central Coast California
Retailer: HEB (or check your local grocery store)

Repeat Offender is a Pinot Noir from the Central Coast of California. It reminds me of that guy you never want to see again (and probably shouldn’t). Not in a mean way…just in that “it’s me not you” kinda way.

This Pinot Noir is a seductive red that appears like a deep cranberry juice. Unlike First Timer, its aromas are very subtle. Repeat Offender is pretty earthy with hints of cinnamon. The tannins in this wine are very bold, leaving a lingering bitter aftertaste that I didn’t care for too much. The fruit flavors are there, but you’ll wish they didn’t stay. The dark cherry and strawberry flavors tasted very much watered down. I should’ve known better. California Pinot just isn’t my thing. #TeamOregonPinot all the way!!

With that being said, I don’t know why I keep entertaining California Pinot Noirs when I know what Pinot truly makes me happy. It really is that “it’s me not you” situation. Like my dating life, I know what I like, so why keep entertaining guys that are the polar opposite? Just to say that I tried? That gets old real quick! Nobody has time to keep making the same mistakes (in hopes that something might change) when you can be building with someone who is exactly on the same page as you. So, the moral of this story is to stay true to yourself! Quit searching when what you want/need is right in front of you. Oregon Pinot Noir should have no concerns about me trying to dip out on another Pinot EVA-EVA AGAIN!

Overall Rating: 2 Corks

Buzzworthy: Central Coast Pinot Noir has 13.9 percent ACL by volume. This offense is not worth repeating.

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