Stephen’s Pick: Split Rail Swamp Donkey, $22.00

Upon first glance, Split Rail’s newest red blend “Swamp Donkey” stands out with its imaginative label that features “Snake River Valley” prominently on the front. The adorable donkey wearing “Wellington” boots that suggest it may have been trotting through a quagmire or a puddle-strewn marshland. That’s what I thought when I first looked at it, but then I spoke with Split Rail’s Jed Glavin and he explained to me that “swamp donkey” refers to a person who walks around in trenches, as in messy wine cellars. I might add that if you look up “Swamp Donkey,” you will also get several other colorful, colloquial meanings that definitely have nothing to do with wine. The wine itself, according to Mr. Glavin is a “baby GSM,” mostly Mourvèdre with a little Grenache, Syrah and a few additional red varieties. I was lucky enough to try the Swamp Donkey and it is a great red blend! It tastes kind of like a cross between a Bordeaux blend and a Southern Rhône—slightly fruit-forward with berry accents on the finish—similar in style to Split Rail’s incredibly popular Laser Fox Cinsault. I really like their newest creation and I can see it going really well with barbecue, burgers, or even a steak. It is flavorful enough to drink on its own as well, but definitely decant this one or let it stand open a few hours before pouring to maximize the ample flavor profile. I am not BS-ing you, so the Wellington boots are not actually necessary: Swamp Donkey is a really great wine!