Vampires are notorious for their bloodthirst. While I love vampires and desperately wish I were one, I can’t imbibe in the sanguine fluid. However, I do enjoy a glass of red vino and, fortunately for me, there is a Vampire brand that offers a selection of wines inspired by the immortal creatures. I decided to do a tasting of their Summer Solstice Celebration Set and share my experience for any fellow vampire and wine enthusiasts who are looking to add more bottles to their cellars.
Vampire Family Brands started out producing wine in Dracula’s homeland of Transylvania in 1995. Then, founders Michael Machat and his wife Lisa Dominique went on a hunt for other soils that cultivated the best quality grapes. Eventually, they settled on California and opened a winery in Napa in the mid-2000s.
The brand offers an enticing collection of wines, such as Dracula, Fangria, True Blood and Vampire Vineyards. Non-wine options include Bloody Mary Cocktail, Vampire Belgian Chocolate, Vampire Coffee and Vampire Vodka. At one time, they operated a wine tasting room in Beverly Hills called The Vampire Lounge. I mentioned this spot in a past blog post titled, Best Los Angeles Spots to Visit for Vampire Lovers. It was supposed to relocate in 2019, but that has yet to happen. Hopefully, the establishment reopens some time in the near future and isn’t abandoned. The Vampire Café, though, recently opened in New Orleans, Louisiana, offering bites, libations and tea leaf readings!
Vampire Wine Tasting Experience
My first drop of Vampire wine was the Vampire Merlot served at a restaurant called Yard House. I love red wines and would order a glass of this every time I dined there. To my knowledge, the brand doesn’t sell their wines in any specialty stores; you have to order it via their website. Suffice it to say, this wine tasting was long overdue, and I set my sights on the Summer Solstice Celebration Set.
As the name implies, this pack pays homage to the warmer months. It includes Trueblood Napa Carneros Chardonnay, Vampire Cabernet Sauvignon, Vampire Pinot Grigio and Fangria Sangria. I was also curious to try a bottle from their Dracula line, so I picked the Sparkling Rosé. It’s not part of this set, but Rosé is a fantastic refreshment to sip on when temperatures are scorching.
I’m not lying when I say I enjoyed these wines over the entirety of summer. I ordered the set in late June and opened the last bottle of the group only a few days ago, before the conclusion of the season. These beverages were certainly savored and appreciated among those who drank them. Besides myself, my husband and a couple of friends sampled the wines and shared their impressions of what they tasted and smelled. Here are my findings presented in the order I tried the wines.
Trueblood 2012 Carneros Napa Valley Chardonnay
I’m going to be honest—I am not a fan of most Chardonnays, so I was curious to see if I would like this one. Most have either a buttery or oaky taste that doesn’t sit well with me. This wine is from the Carneros region of Napa Valley, and I’ve really enjoyed wines from this area in the past. There is a winery called Ceja Vineyards that produces excellent batches of vino.
The color of the Trueblood Chardonnay was golden, like liquid butter. Upon taking a whiff, aromas of sweet vanilla and fresh fruit hit the nose. The wine was very chilled when I served it, and the first sips tasted acidic, which I liked. It wasn’t buttery, but there were some oak flavors. It had a fullness to it that coated the tongue, leaving lingering notes. I preferred the flavor as the wine came to room temperature. It was still acidic, but smoother. When it was really cold, it left an odd aftertaste in my mouth.
On the night I opened the bottle, my husband was gracious enough to make the Love It Pot Pie dish from the Beetle House cookbook! I must say it paired well, and the acidity of the wine balanced out the richness of the cream sauce. Overall, the wine was good, although I think it’d be better appreciated by people who like Chardonnay.
Vampire 2016 Pinot Grigio
I’ve had my fair share of Pinot Grigio varietals, and I think it’s an easy drinking kind of wine. This one was no exception. Unlike the Chardonnay, I enjoyed the chilled taste. The fragrance to me was bright and classic. My husband got hints of floral, honeydew and cantaloupe scents. There was a lemon zest flavor when I whirled the liquid around in my mouth. As it had time to breathe, the wine smelled sweeter and more mellow. If you prefer your vino clean and smooth, this is for you.
Dracula Sparkling Rosé
A little bit of bubbly is such fun to savor! Firstly, I loved the label on this rosé. It had a gothic Victorian touch, and, although Vlad wouldn’t be able to imbibe in the contents, I think he’d admire its appearance. We popped open the bottle and poured. The sparkling wine looked even more magical in the glass, plus the light red hue with bubbles was hypnotic.
I loved the fuzzy, carbonated sensation as I took my first sip. It was dry and effervescent, which signals a good quality rosé to me. There were notes of berries with a tarte fruit aftertaste. Interestingly, it’s a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes. Although I don’t care for Chardonnay, it definitely worked in this mixture. As the wine breathed and came to room temperature, the notes of fruit were more forward, and the finish was sweeter. Although the suds dissipated a bit and mellowed, the beverage was still bubbly. What a perfect drink for a summer afternoon!
This was the most alluring bottle of the bunch. It features the silhouette of a graceful flamenco dancer with flowers in her hair. The label proudly proclaims, “Vivan los vampiros!” Unlike the other wines, this one is produced in Spain. So another confession—I dislike sweet wines and am not a sangria drinker. My husband, on the other hand, enjoys it. I wasn’t exactly amped up to sample this one because I knew the taste would be sugary.
We shared this with a couple of friends. The bottle directs to serve chilled and, due to the sweetness, you don’t want to have this at room temperature. The fragrance was fantastic. We smelled cinnamon, nutmeg, plums, cherry and bitter fruit. It tasted more akin to juice in my mouth. While we all agreed it was on the sweeter side, the consensus was split down the middle. Out of our party of four, two favored it, the other two didn’t. Guess which side I was on.
Now, the Fangria is by no means distasteful. However, like my opinions on the Chardonnay, I think those who love sangria would be happy with this product. I also think it’s perfect for individuals who aren’t typically wine drinkers. The label does suggest mixing it with fruit and brandy, so a concoction like that could make it more drinkable to me.
Vampire 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon
We come to the final vino of the set, which I actually had just a few days ago. Out of all the wines in the pack, this was the one I was most anticipating. Up to this point, the Vampire Merlot was the only red wine I had tried from the brand. Generally, I prefer reds to whites, and I love dry, full-bodied varietals. This Cabernet Sauvignon delivered those two qualities and more.
I inhaled and breathed in berries, cherries and jam. The flavor was tarte and filled my mouth, coating my tongue nicely. The description mentions aromas of mocha, but that wasn’t as prominent for me. It’s an easy-to-drink red wine with a classic taste that’s not too robust. My husband mentioned it would pair nicely with barbeque chicken or ribs.
In the end, I’m quite content with the Summer Solstice Celebration Set and Dracula Sparkling Rosé. I would order these again to share with family and friends. I especially recommend the selection I bought if you’re planning a gathering and want a variety of wines to offer your guests as the collection can satisfy different palates. The summer edition pack is available year-round and can certainly be savored during any season.
And the Vampire brand offers good quality wines at an affordable price. Browsing their online store, they have several options for under $20, but in my opinion, the sets are a great bargain. The Summer Solstice series was just under $60 for four bottles of wine. There are so many other wines I want try, so this probably won’t be the last vampire wine tasting review I do!
Shop the entire collection at the Vampire official website.