A Bargain at $14.99
I "discovered" a red wine, this year, that tastes a whole lot better than I expected it would for the PA sticker price of $14.99. It's Jarhead Red a proprietary blend vinted by veteran United States Marines, at central California's Firestone Vineyard, especially for Marines.
How for? Well, net proceeds from the sale of this deep, dark, still, red wine go to the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation (MCSF) which provides educational assistance to children of U.S. Marines with special attention bring given to children of fallen Marines.
A Celebratory Wine
With the "birthday" of the Corps being right around the corner, on Nov. 10, I thought it appropriate to pick up a couple of bottles as a way of sharing in the celebration of an especial event, and of honoring those who have gone where I'd dare not.
Sometimes Difficult to Obtain
So, I did, but it wasn't easy. A lot of labels fail to be stocked in Pennsylvania's state-controlled wine and spirits stores, and Jarhead Red is one of them. I placed a custom, online order for pick-up at a store. The order arrived in a matter of days, and I think, thanks to Firestone Vineyard, both the Corps and I got a pretty good deal.
A Proprietary Blend
Jarhead Red is labeled a "California red table wine," which it is, but I'd taut the fact that it's a robust Cabernet Sauvignon with a splash of Merlot that complements steak as well as shellfish, hearty seafood, and spicy or barbecued foods.
It's bouquet is rich. It's flavor firm, straight-forward, and long-lasting. Its finish is assertive. There's nothing pretentious about this wine (except, perhaps, that it's aged in French oak barrels for eight months).
I've read where it offers flavors of plum and black current with fine tannis on the finish, but my palate isn't sophisticated enough to concur. I just find that it's a tasty, full-bodied wine that compares very well with Cabernet Sauvignons twice its price. I wouldn't hesitate in serving it, or in recommending it.
Since 1921, when Gen John A. Lejeune, the 13th Commandant of the United States Marine Corps issued Order No. 47, among other things commemorating the Corps' founding in 1775 at Tun Tavern in Philadelphia, Marines have gathered almost annually to toast their comrades present and absent, and the future of the Corps. It was at one such Birthday Ball, in Los Angeles, in 1999, that Jarhead Red was introduced.
The wine was made by Grower Adam Firestone (CAPT USMC 1984-91) and Firestone Vineyard Foreman Ruben Dominguez (SGT USMC 1979-84).
Vinted and Bottled by Firestone
According to Firestone's website, Jarhead Red is available in 750ml (the Rifleman) and 1.5L (the Sergeant) bottles. Occasionally larger formats, including 3.0L (the Sergeant Major) and 5.0L (the Commandant), become available.
Just as I had, earlier this year, I bought two 750ml bottles. I look forward to sharing these on the evening of Nov. 10 when many others will be attending a Birthday Ball.
The first "formal" Birthday Ball took place in Philadelphia in 1925. Guests included the Commandant, the Secretary of War (it was Secretary of War, then, not our more "politically correct" Secretary of Defense), and a host of statesmen and elected officials.
Over the years, like the Marine Corps itself, the annual Birthday Ball evolved from simple origins to the polished and professional functions of today. Nonetheless, one thing has remained constant: this unique holiday for warriors is a day of camaraderie, a day to honor Corps and Country.
It's a good day for those of us who honor them to raise a toast to the most professional fighting force the world has ever known. I plan to do so with Jarhead Red.
For its solid performance and simultaneous benevolence, I award this honorable wine five big OOH-RAHS.
Jarhead: For roughly 50 years, Sailors had little luck in their relentless efforts to insult cocky Marines, so, during World War II, Navy crewmen began referring to Marines as Jarheads. Presumably the high collar on the Marine Dress Blues uniform made a Marine's head look like it was sticking out of the top of a Mason jar. Marines were not insulted. Instead, they embraced the new moniker as a term of utmost respect.
--From ISBN: 0-9650814-1-9
Publisher: Heritage Press International
Author: Marion F. Sturkey; Copyright 2001 and 2003.
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Thank you for your consideration of this review. -- Sunpot
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Winery Name: Firestone
Varietal: Red Blend
State or Region: Los Olivios, California
County or Appellation: Santa Barbara
Wine Rating Scale: A solid performer