Cycles Gladiator

Cost: Average price $5-6

Where buy now: Around town

Grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon

Region: California

Vintage: 2010

Cycles Gladiator Cabernet Sauvignon

“Never judge a book by its cover,” they always say. Ain’t that the truth? I’m sure we’ve all seen some gorgeous beauty across the room, only to have it ruined when you hear him or her speak, leaving you recoiling in horror. The same holds true for just about everything in life, wine included. Exhibit A: Cycles Gladiator wine. Beautiful Art Nouveau label, flowery copy- surely, if they’ve invested time in creating such beautiful artwork to house their wine, it must be worth the $5 gamble.


My husband stopped at the municipal liquor store [aka “The Muni”] near us and picked this bottle out. When he came home with it, he was so excited for us to try it. Did he find the next great cheap-o red?

I should mention that I love my husband, but I do not love this wine. The biggest disappointment was seeing his zealous face slowly slump in disappointment. I wanted to lie, but alas, that wouldn’t be true to him, myself, nor to all of you.

To clarify, it’s not that I hated this wine- it just didn’t have much personality. I felt a bit duped. When I went to write this review, I initially referred to it as “table wine” (which was a stretch), because I completely forgot that this is technically a Cabernet Sauvignon! You should know when you are drinking a Cab: big, bold flavors of currant, spice and oak with great tannic structure- just begging you to go primal on a rare piece of steak. This Cab is like when you shake a person’s hand and their wrist goes limp, fingers hardly squeezing back. Lackluster. Boring. Meh.

Sad to say, Cycles Gladiator was all show and no go for this Lush. At around $5, I’m deeming this wine as the Skank bottle of the month. Buy it when you’re pert near hammered, and just need something more to take you that next level. Or better yet, just spend a dollar or two more and get something you’ll respect in the morning.

10 thoughts on “Cycles Gladiator”

  1. What a cute writeup. I think the label alone is worth the $5. That is a great label. But you do a good job of highlighting the dangers of buying wine based solely on the label.

    1. Dear Betty,

      Thank you for your kind words. It killed me but alas, falling victim to marketing can create a buzz-kill.


  2. Hi Betty,

    I just saw your post, and had a sick feeling all over. I work for the winery and have to believe you got a bad bottle. We certainly don’t think we can take the Pepsi Challenge against Colgin. But we do know we put a tasty product in the bottle, just perfect for that big hunk of meat on the grill, or maybe a porcini risotto.

    So we’d love to send you another bottle to sample. Let me know and we’ll send your way…

    Or was this an April’s Fools Day post? If so…you got me.


    Philip Woodrow
    Cycles Gladiator Winery, Lodi, CA

    1. Dear Philip,

      Perhaps I did get a bad bottle. My intentions were not to land-blast the product but to explain it didn’t thrill me.
      No worries about sending a bottle. I plan to purchase and try again. I’ll give it another shot as this wine can be found all over the Twin Cities area.

      Thanks for your comment,

  3. Really? I just had a bottle of 2010 Cab Sauv and I am on the net right now trying to find out more about this wine. I was so pleasantly surprised by it. I think you had a bad bottle too. Mine did have a different label though.
    Please try again and post! Loved it!!

    1. Hi Dianna ~

      Thank you for commenting! As I stated in the review, I didn’t hate the wine, just thought it lacked personality.

      Since you have also enjoyed the bottle and thought I had a bad one, I will certainly give it a go around one more time. I dislike, disliking wines since it’s a painstaking and personal process to make.

      I very much appreciate you taking time to write on the site. I’ll be trying the Cycles Cab again soon.


  4. I also was disappointed in this wine, at first. It definitely needs to breathe for awhile. Once it did it brought out very intense cherry flavors with a great smoky cocoa finish. Give it room to breathe and maybe you will like it.

    1. Dear Jill ~

      Thanks for commenting! My apologies for the tardiness of this reply. I had log in problems.

      I hear you, I’ve had wines that are tightly wound until they breathe. There’s been so many comments to try this again that it leaves me no choice.

      Thanks for giving me your opinion of how this wine opened up to you. Much obliged!


  5. Clearly an off bottle. Having lived in France for many years, I enjoy wine the way ordinary French do — that is, with an eye toward find a balance between price and quality. I just served a Cycles Gladiator Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 and it rang bells all around the dinner table. Sent several guests scrambling to the internet to order a case or two. At the price — under $10 — it’s a darn good buy.

    1. Hi Edward,

      Thanks for commenting. You’re the third person who said I may have had an off bottle. I suppose it’s time I give it another try. Thanks for making me privy to this wine, it’s been a while since it’s been on my radar.

      Much obliged for commenting!


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