This week, E-40 dropped his three latest albums, The Block Brochure: Welcome to the Soil 4, 5, and 6. He came by the Complex offices to talk about them. What you may not know is that back in October, E-40 began selling the first vintage of wines that he's been making at a vinyard near his home In Vallejo, California. Wines from Earl Stevens Selections come in both white and red and three different blends: Mangoscato, Function Red Blend and Moscoto.
“I wanted to create my own wine because I’m a huge wine connoisseur," says 40. "I love wine and I got a name for myself, so I decided to make my own."
40 was nice enough to bring some bottles with him on his visit, and Complex staff thoroughly enjoyed sipping his wine as we were bumping his songs like "Carlos Rossi. It made for a lovely afternoon. (If slightly less productive than usual.)
However, we are not huge wine connoisseurs up here at Complex. Frankly, we sometimes couldn't tell a pinot noir from a pinot grigio. And we wanted to know how 40's product stands up to the fancy-pants stuff. So we hollered at Michael Madrigale, and invited him up for a for a tasting.
Head sommelier at the NYC restaurants Bar Boulud & Boulud Sud, Madrigale (Michael Madrigale (@mikemadrigale) is a true expert, a connoisseur's connoisseur. He was named Wine Enthusiast's 2012 Sommelier of the Year and maintains a website, Drunk On The Moon, where he writes about wine. We asked Madrigale to try out the Mangoscato and Function Red Blend and review them for us. Here's what he had to say:
"The last time I tasted a wine resembling Earl Stevens Mangoscato I was 15 years old and back then it was called Mad Dog. On first sniff I am transported back to my friend Jeff’s home at a house party he was throwing while his parents left for the weekend to the Poconos. I can’t remember much of the details of the party but I do recall waking up following morning in the fetal position on Jeff’s front lawn.
"The Earl Stevens Mangoscato contains 18 percent alcohol content and does not have vintage on the label. Therefore its a fortified wine like Mad Dog, Night Train, Boones Farm, etc. But unlike the other fortified wines mentioned, Mangoscoto costs around $20, which is about 3 times the price of the other 'wines.' So how does it taste? Well, on first sniff I am getting aromas of gummy bears, orange Lil’ Hugs, rubbing alcohol, and the cheap lollipops they give little kids when visiting Apple Bank. The palate is much less pleasant. It's syrupy sweet, not unlike canned peaches, and has a burning alcohol sensation on the finish resembling NyQuil. Not recommended."
Function Red Blend
"The 2011 Earl Stevens 'Function Red' is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel as stated on the website. It smells like wine which is an improvement from the Mangoscoto, although there seems to be a few off aromas of plastic and something I can’t put my finger on, something I imagine roadkill smothered in KC Masterpiece Barbecue sauce would smell like. The palate is fruit driven and juicy without much backing structure of tannins or acidity. It also has the sensation of high alcohol which leaves your mouth burning on the finish. Not recommended."
Well. Okay. So E-40's grapes did not dance so delightfully upon the palette of our expert. These things happen. It's a young company, and you know what they say: wine gets better with age.