February 7, 2008
Paul Newman Finishes Setting the Table

Newmans Own Wine Group - HIGH RES.JPGNearly 40 years after it was released, could the Paul Newman and Robert Redford vehicle "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" still resonate with an American audience?

The folks at Rebel Wine Co. in Napa Valley are counting on it. "Newman's Own," a brand long associated with salad dressings, pasta sauces and popcorn, now is a wine that in its packaging and marketing hopes to capitalize on the enduring appeal of the movie. There are two wines, actually, a cabernet sauvignon and a chardonnay, both bearing California appellations, and both with the sketched likeness of Paul Newman on the label, designed to resemble a strip of celluloid.

Unlike the principals in the popular "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," a likeable and amusing sendup of oldtime Westerns, these aren't wines you need to chase down and wrestle to the ground to get a grip on what they have to say. They're smack in your face, with hefty builds and lush ripe fruit. There's no hole in the wall here. Both seem to have a trace of residual sugar, qualifying them as candidates for a People's Choice award if not an Oscar.

The chardonnay is true to type, its ripe fruit running to pineapple and apple, with unusual complexity for an example of the varietal more at home as an aperitif than a companion at the dinner table.

The cabernet sauvignon is dense in color and thick through the middle, its herbal and cherry fruitiness shot through with suggestions of port. It's a stew wine, or better yet a wine to pair with saltena, the beefy, fruity and spicy Bolivian version of an empanada.

Both wines are from the 2006 vintage and each carries a suggested retail price of $16. As with Newman's other culinary products, all profits from sale of the wines are donated to educational and charitable programs.

Rebel Wine Co. is a collaboration of the St. Helena wineries Three Thieves and Trinchero Family Estates, which also releases the Bandit line of wines. Newman's Own wines just are starting to be distributed, with the first wave available at Nugget Markets along Florin Road, in West Sacramento and at El Dorado Hills.

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