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Notes From the Dump Bin


Avignon, Braun & Hogenberg, Cosmographia, 1575

I love the dump bin. During my Bristol days, Harvey’s had a half-height wall full of bin-end selections. Now I troll through the half-barrels at MacArthur’s and the racks at Wide World of Wines. With judicious choice you can walk away with interesting wine at rock bottom prices. There are several different types of wine in the dump bin.  MacArthur’s has a special category for the absolutely worst wines, the “cooking wine” selection. I suspect these might be better suited for distillation. Then there are notorious wines to avoid regardless of the cost, perhaps highly rated but terrible to drink. If you like to gamble there are those of low-fill or signs of seepage that could be worth the risk. Finally there are good bottles marked down in cost simply because they represent the last odd bottle or two in the store.

Avignon, Baedeker's Southern France, 1914

Both of the wines in this post were purchased for $20 or less. I got the Font de Michelle from MacArthur’s and the Bosquet du Papes from Wide World of Wine. The cheapest prices on wine-searcher are $35 for the Font de Michelle and $60 for the Bosquet des Papes. I personally think that anyone who would pay $60 for the Bosquet is nuts.  Other Dump Bin wines in this blog include the 2000 Mourre du Tendre, 2001 Janasse, Terre d’Argile, 1999 Gourt des Mautens, amongst a few others.  These sorts of wines will now be tagged “Notes From the Dump Bin” to honor a comment from P.

1998 Domaine Font de Michelle, Chateauneuf du Pape
This is a blend of 70% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre, and 10% Cinsault/Counoise/Terret Noir/Muscardin.  The Grenache is aged in foudres or tanks, the Syrah and Mourvedre are aged in newer barriques for 16 months.  Then the final blend is aged six months in tank.  This wine is a light+ garnet with bricking on the rim.  It has a light nose of funky, earthy aromas, and some roast.  In the mouth there are dense, dark, red fruit flavors.  There is a sense of gentle power lurking here.  The flavors expand in the mouth giving way to blue fruits and minerals in the finish.  There are some chunky tannins that come out in the aftertaste.  This wine is still youthful and not as complex as the Bosquet du Papes.  An awesome buy for this single bottle.  ***(*) Now-2017.

1998 Bosquet des Papes, Chateauneuf du Pape
This is a blend of 75% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre, and 5% Cinsault.  The vines average 50 years of age and the wine is aged in foudres.  This is a lighter color with a clearer, garnet core and more bricking than the Fond de Michelle.  It has a light nose of earthy, spices, forest, and old wood box.  In the mouth is is more mature in flavor, with ethereal, wood box aromas and spices.  The wine fills the mouth with red fruit and minerals.  I suspect is is now drinking at its peak.  Another good buy that I was able to purchase a few of.  **** Now-2015.

  1. Julie
    May 30, 2011 at 12:22 am

    Hey Aaron, we will have to look for some of these at the local Vinotheque! There is one around the corner in France that has tastings…I’m embarassed to say that we haven’t been to one, but we shall go before we leave!

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