With a successful racing career under your belt — including victories at Le Mans and Daytona — you have a unique resumé to guide you into the next steps of your career. For Kevin Buckler of Adobe Road Winery, that has meant making the most of California’s bustling wine scene to craft a four-bottle set of red blends designed for the motorsport fan. Yes, I’ve drank my way through the Racing Series, and yes, I’m here to share just what I thought.
I first heard about Adobe Road through fellow auto journalist Teia Collier, who sampled two of the wines at the Petaluma, CA winery itself. After seeing the design of the “Shift” bottle, which features a cork topper shaped like a shift knob, I immediately fell in love. I considered nabbing the full Racing Series collection from Adobe Road’s website, but I will admit that the $369 asking price was a little steep for my budget — thanks largely to the fact that the four wines are packaged in an incredible “museum-quality” box.
But I was in luck: I’ve been able to find each of the reds in stores around Texas or via friends who had bought a bottle themselves. I started out with the first bottle — Shift, obviously — back in early March of this year after finding it at the Bucc-ee’s just outside of Texas Motor Speedway. Since then, I’ve drank my way through the collection and made tasting notes for each bottle (I am an aspiring wine snob). You’ll forgive me for lacking photos of my own — I didn’t set out intending to write a review, but having finished the collection and falling in love, I thought it only made sense to share my amateur thoughts with the world.
Out of all the wines in The Racing Series collection, I think Redline was probably my least favorite — but that’s not to say it was in any way offensive; it was more just not totally my taste. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Zinfandel, Petit Sirah, and Malbec, there’s a whole lot going on here. Bold blackberry flavors give way to licorice and chocolate-covered fruit — three things I’m not a fan of when they’re not flavors in wine. I did, however, adore the fact that it had a nice spicy finish. It’s an adventure in a bottle, so if you want you’re a big fan of savoring each moment of a sip, you’re going to love where Redline takes you.
Next on my list is Apex, a Bourdeaux-heavy blend that feels like velvet on your tongue and yet transforms into leather, smoke, juicy red fruits and holiday spices. My mom, who is not a massive red wine fan, said that it tasted like smoked pulled pork to her — it just has that cherrywood-smoked meatiness that makes it terribly fun to drink. It’s not massively bold in the sense that it doesn’t come at you like a punch, but it does have the kind of flavor you want to roll around on your tongue for a while. It’s a slow wine. We had it with grilled steak, and it was fantastic.
How do you pay homage to the endurance it takes to compete in a 24-hour race? For Adobe Road, that means blending Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah, Malbec, and Petit Syrah. If you’re patient enough to led it breathe, you’ll be rewarded with a complex first sip that somehow manages to be fresh and fruity while also being dark and brooding and a little bit spicy — a big burst of flavor and excitement that mimics the start of a race. On your tongue, though, it feels soft and velvety, and as you ease into the bottle, you’ll find it steady and able to keep up with the duration of a long race. The splash of Malbec keeps that steadiness exciting all the way throughout.
Alright, fine, I’ll just come right out and say it: Shift was easily my favorite wine of the bunch. I’m a sucker for anything Tempranillo, and having it blended with Zinfandel, Syrah, and Petit Sirah. It’s the kind of dry that will soak up just about all the moisture from your tongue, but the blend’s bold fruity flavors help add a little extra punch without being overpowering. It’s one of those wines that holds up entirely by itself, but it would also pair well with hearty meat dishes and strong cheeses; personally, I recommend sipping it with an intent to enjoy it, undistracted by anything else. Plus, the bottle is an art piece in and of itself. I rinsed mine out and popped it on my kitchen cabinets alongside a few of my other gorgeous bottles.