Archive

Posts Tagged ‘$1-$8’

Notes from the Dump Bin: Sometimes Old Wine is Simply Old

I have a deserved reputation for trying almost any wine.  I do not keep track of my success ratio but sometimes I find fun stuff such as the bizarrely decent 1971 Chateau Montgrand-Milon, Pauillac.  Who knew that the second wine of a Crus Bourgeois Superieur would still be solid?  Those $10 bottles were worth every cent.  Earlier this year I grabbed a trio of wines priced in the $3 to $10 range.  I had hoped that the 1981 Cellier des Dauphins, Cotes du Rhone was stabilized in some form rendering it immune to age.  It was not.  At least the bottle shape is different. The 1983 Chateau La Cardonne, Medoc would be better if the fruit did not exist solely in the finish.  Lovers of blood and iron will rate this wine higher.  For me, half a glass was fine. Most disappointing is the 1997 Delas Freres, Les Calcerniers, Chateauneuf du Pape.  Wine Spectator gave this bottle 80 points upon release.  I think it has lost one point for every year of age.  If you see these wines then stay away!  These wines were taken from the dump bin at MacArthur Beverages.

Oldies1

1981 Cellier des Dauphins, Cotes du Rhone
Imported by Cellier des Dauphins.  Alcohol 12.5%.  Should have been drunk 34 years ago.  Past.

1983 Chateau La Cardonne, Medoc
Imported by Chateau & Estate.  Alcohol 11%-12%.  The color is quite advanced and would be alarming if this bottle did not cost just a few Dollars.  The flavors are a bit better with slightly dense and rounded blood and iron start.  There is watering acidity that keeps things going.  The wine is best in the finish with some grippy red fruit, more blood but then there is an aftertaste of roast earth.  * Past.

1997 Delas Freres, Les Calcerniers, Chateauneuf du Pape
Imported by Maisons Marques and Domaines.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose of roast earth does not bode well.  In the mouth the wine is balanced in feel and in no way in poor condition.  However, the wine tasted old with the fruit all gone and the flavors are lean. There is still a good body and mouthfeel. Poor. Past.

Oldies2

Dump bin surprises from the 1970s

A small selection of wines recently hit the dump bin at MacArthur Beverages.  These bottles are the remnants of a collection accumulated by a person that is leaving Washington, DC.  They were stored in a wine fridge which gave some assurance.  In general the wines are in strong condition with very good labels, corrosion free capsules, and high fills.  The wines themselves are all French from the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.  It is a strange lot featuring from decent to off vintages, both negociants and major producers, and several different regions.  My first action was tasting the two worst looking bottles.

The 1978 Jean-Pierre Brotte, Cotes-du-Ventoux is from a negociant once known for their Chateauneuf du Pape.  The company operated under the Brotte and Pere Anselme names.  The later name you might recall from my night at Bern’s Steak House.  This particular wine was produced before the company made a transition towards domaine named wines.  The bottle had slight signs of old seepage, yet the color and fill were good.  The 1978 vintage in the Southern Rhone is a great one so given the price this seemed like a good test of the cellar.  It was dry under the capsule, the cork was very easy to pull out, yet it was still solid.  The wine inside was quite lively!

The second test bottle came from Bordeaux.  David Peppercorn writes in Bordeaux (1991) that Chateau de Camensac would have been a very strong contender for the least known of the classified growth.  The estate was purchased by the Forner family in 1965.  They also owned Larose-Trintaudon, a frequent wine of my youth, and Marques de Caceras in Rioja.  The family put considerable effort into improving the vineyards and winery, they even hired Emile Peynaud.  Peppercorn writes that he liked the 1973 and 1975.  There are no Cellartracker notes for the 1973 vintage but there are favorable and contemporary notes for the 1975.  This must have been the peak of the estate because Stephen Brook writes in Bordeaux (2006) that numerous vintages from 1975 and onwards are disappointing.  The 1973 vintage had “quite good” weather but not the best vineyard work resulting in wines that could have been better.  Perhaps then the good weather, initial efforts at the Chateau, and Peynaud’s guidance resulted in a trifecta causing the 1973 Chateau de Camensac, Haut-Medoc to be a decent wine.

DumpBin2

The mid-shoulder fill did not bode well for this bottle but the cork was solid and so was the wine.  I knew nothing of the 1973 vintage in Bordeaux so I honestly expected the wine to be undrinkable.  Once described as “delicate and velvety” there is, instead, a substance to the red fruit, complexity from leather notes, and a sweaty/savory middle.  There is an appropriate amount of green pepper notes too.  In comparing the two wines, the 1978 Jean-Pierre Brotte, Cotes-du-Ventoux is nervy from acidity and the 1973 Chateau de Camensac, Haut-Medoc is a mature, savory claret.  Pleased by the results I next took a group of wines to serve blind to Lou and David.  Stay tuned!

DumpBin3

1978 Jean-Pierre Brotte, Cotes-du-Ventoux – $6
Imported by Chrissa Import.  Alcohol 12%.  For about two hours there were clean red, acidity driven fruit flavors.  The wine is tangy and still has ripe, citric pith tannins.  The minerally red fruit is bright, perhaps a little thin due to age, but some strawberry flavors come through.  *(*) Now.

DumpBin1

1973 Chateau de Camensac, Haut-Medoc – $4
Imported by Robert Haas Selects.  This wine is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cabernet Franc, and 20% Merlot.  Alcohol 11%-14%.  There are aromas of green pepper, red fruit, and eventually leather.  In the mouth there is surprising depth to the red fruit supported by fresh acidity.  The surprise continues with a sweaty, savory mouth filling middle.  The tannins are largely resolved but the structure does come out by the finish.  It finishes with both leather and earth flavors.  After a few hours it takes on a greenhouse characteristic.  ** Now.

DumpBin4

Wine in Small Servings: From Unpleasant Reactions to Red and Black Fruit

April 1, 2014 4 comments

SingleServe20

I travel with some consistency.  In my desire to have a few glasses of wine in my hotel room I inevitably do not finish the bottle I have purchased and dump the remains down the sink.  That is a waste which could be eliminated by drinking from single-serve bottles.  While it is in my nature to travel with a corkscrew, others may not, particularly if you fly carry-on.  In this post we investigated small servings of wine which do not require a corkscrew to open.  These are suitable not only for travel but other occasions including lunch in one’s cubicle, a picnic, or perhaps the long train ride home.  There is a certain tongue-in-cheek nature to the idea of this post, given the timing of this first day of April, but one thing which is true is that my most viewed post remains I Try Cups of Copa Di Vino.  Back in January almost 1,000 individuals read this post within 24 hours.

SingleServe12

The wines featured in this post come from a variety of sources including Giant in Manassas, Sheetz gas station in Morgantown (thanks John!), and Whole Foods in downtown Seattle.  The per bottle price ranges from $6.29 for NV Sutter Home, Cabernet Sauvignon, California to a whopping $20.18 for the NV oneglass Wine, Cabernet Savuignon, Delle Venezie, Italy.  The last time I recall drinking a single serve bottle of wine was on an Alaska Airlines flight where I featured the 2009 Sutter Home, Merlot, California in my post Tasting Wine at 34,000 Feet….Live!

Of the wines tasted the 2011 Bota Box, Chardonnay, California ranks as the worst wine I have ever drunk in my life.  It literally made me want to puke and like sticking your fingers down your throat, it was repeatable.  If it acceptable to find Copa di Vino at a gas station then  it is unacceptable that Whole Foods was selling the NV oneglass Wine, Cabernet Sauvignon, Delle Venezie, Italy.   Beyond the $20 per bottle equivalent sales price, marked down from $22.50, the wine was off-putting.  I simply cannot imagine how it ended up on their shelves.  One thing that might be telling, there were just a handful of these containers left as compared to my previous visit.  Of all the wines tasted the 2012 Woodbridge, Cabernet Sauvignon, California was the best.  It smelled and tasted like wine and at $6.74 per 4-pack it was all that I expected.  It comes with a handy carrying case.  If you do not mind dumping some wine down the sick then you are better off buying by the screw-capped bottle.

WHITE WINES

SingleServe22

The best of the dry whites was the NV Vendange, Chardonnay, Australia.  Rather mellow for my tastes it could be thought of as a mature box wine!  The best and only off-dry white was the Copa di Vino, Riesling, Columbia Valley.  This was in fact the best of the Copa di Vino wines we tried for it did not purport to be anything else.

SingleServe2

Copa di Vino, Chardonnay, Columbia Valley – $2.69 (187 mL)
Use by 07-29-14.  Alcohol 13.2%.  The color was a very light straw.  The very light nose had a little oak influences, yellow fruit, and stink notes.  In the mouth were lean, acidity driven flavors which became puckering with a lot of acidity by the aftertaste.  It was watering with a metallic note and the stink persisting in the mouth.  On the second night it was still funky and stinky. Poor.

SingleServe5

2012 Woodbridge, Chardonnay, California – $6.74 (4-pack of 187mL)
Alcohol 13.5%.  The color was a light yellow green.  The nose had fresher yellow fruit which turned tropical.  There was very acidity driven fruit, a roundish feel, and acidity on the tongue tip.  It had a creamsicle flavor and a metallic finish.  There was some grip in the aftertaste.  On the second night it was very similar but with more tropical notes.  Drinkable. * Now.

SingleServe6

NV Vendange, Chardonnay, Australia – $4.94 (500 mL)
Alcohol 12.5%.  The color was a very light straw.  The light nose had slightly richer yellow fruit.  In the mouth were lower lying flavor, much less comparable acidity.  As a whole more mellow but with some balance.  It had some toast in the apple-like finish and became more balanced with air.  There was even some aftertaste.  Tropical notes develop for which it needs more acidity.  Drinkable. * Now.

SingleServe14

2011 Bota Box, Chardonnay, California – $6.29 (500 mL)
Alcohol 13%.  The color was a light golden yellow.  The nose bore mature pineapple pieces.  In the mouth this dense tasting wine was mouth filling with supporting acidity and non-descript flavors.  Odd.  There was a metallic finish.  Strange enough, there was an odd reaction in the back of my throat…this wine made me want to puke.  Poor.

SingleServe1

Copa di Vino, Riesling, Columbia Valley – $2.69 (187 mL)
Freshest by 08-12-14.  Alcohol 12.2%.  The nose smelled like sweet wine.  In the mouth was a sweet entry with supporting acidity and a little texture on the tongue tip.  It had tropical white and yellow fruit flavors.  There was a short finish.  * Now.

 

RED WINES

SingleServe21

The red wines generally left the impression of either being heavily manufactured or made from the discarded remnant of bad wine.  The NV Barefoot, Merlot, California might have fans because it is intentionally slightly off-dry but it did pass the threshold of being drinkable wine.  Just a few tens of cents more the 2012 Woodbridge, Cabernet Sauvignon, California was the hands down favorite of all of the wines tasted.  Perhaps it was the vintage date or the $0.45 premium over the NV Sutter Home, Cabernet Sauvignon, California that account for higher-quality fruit.

SingleServe11

2012 JT Wines, FLASQ wine, Merlot, California – $7 (375 mL)
Alcohol 13.5%.  This had red fruit on the nose with a hint of greenhouse aromas.  In the mouth the red fruit had some ripeness, a greenhouse note, and a hint of jammy sweetness.  The tannins were pleasing.  It did have an odd under-note and feeling of confection.  Would rate higher but for the oddity.   Poor.

SingleServe7

NV Barefoot, Merlot, California – $6.74 (4-pack of 187mL)
Alcohol 13%.  The color was a medium ruby grape.  There was sweet blue fruit on the nose.  In the mouth was a round start with ripe fruit that had grip and was balanced with acidity.  It had a creamy blueberry finish with good texture.  Perhaps too much residual sugar for my preference.  * Now.

SingleServe9

NV Sutter Home, Cabernet Sauvignon, California – $6.29 (4-pack of 187mL)
Alcohol 13%.  The color was a light to medium ruby.  It had a cleaner fruit nose.  In the mouth were leaner black and red fruit, subtle structure, a little appropriate greenhouse flavor, and some candied notes.  * Now.

SingleServe8

2012 Woodbridge, Cabernet Sauvignon, California – $6.74 (4-pack of 187mL)
Alcohol 13.5%.  This had a subtle nose.  In the mouth were ripe but controlled red and black fruit, plenty of integrated acidity, some spice, a little chewy finish, and structure towards the end.  This tasted like proper wine and was hands-down the best.  * Now.

SingleServe3

Copa di Vino, Merlot, Chile – $2.69 (187 mL)
Use by 02-08-15.  Alcohol 13%.  There was a sweet nose of sweet floral aromas.  In the mouth this wind revealed round, soft, rather perfumed sweet fruit.  It was very round with creamy fruit, some herbaceousness, and a downright odd profile.  Poor.

SingleServe4

Copa di Vino, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chile – $2.69 (187 mL)
Use by 05-07-15.  Alcohol 13.3%.  This had a better nose of black fruit and greenhouse aromas.  In the mouth the herbaceous black fruit had a grapefruit note with integrated acidity and tannins.  There was texture in the finish and a surprising amount of tannins.  Tasted manufactured but drinkable.  * Now.

SingleServe10

NV oneglass Wine, Cabernet Sauvignon, Delle Venezie, Italy – $2.69 (100 mL)
Alcohol 13%.  There was a bizarre and off-putting nose.  The mouth had round, cherry fruit which tasted old in a way.  There was old perfume, acidity, ripe tannins, and downright odd flavors.  Poor.

SingleServe13

A Pair from Italy

Though I have recently posted on a number of Virginian wines I have still been tasting wines from around the world.  Over the past year Italian wines have become a part of our weekly selections.  Here are two that we drank last week.  The Fonterenza is a young estate run by twin sisters Margarita and Francesca Padovani.  They planted vines on family property in 1999, 2002, and 2005 so that today there are 4 hectares of vines.  They work in an organic and biodynamic nature.  The fruit is fermented with indigenous yeasts in either stainless steel or Slavonian oak vats.  The only temperature control is that of the air conditioning for the cellar.  Cantine Volpetti has produced wine on the volcanic hills south of Rome since 1958. These two wines were quite enjoyable.  The Fonterenza reflects the attention it receives which is finely made.  It should be drunk young and currently benefits from an hour or so of air.  My only gripe is that I wish it were more affordable.  I thought the Volpetti was a solid performer at the original $13 price but Tim recently marked it down to $8. I have not come across many $8 wines that I enjoy drinking!  These wines were purchased from MacArthur Beverages.

2011 Fonterenza, Petti Rosso – $26
Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections.  This wine is 100% Sangiovese sourced from vineyards near Montalcino at 420 meters on soils with good levels of clay and chalk.  It was fermented with indigenous yeasts then aged for eight months in stainless steel.  The light nose reveals aromas of grapey berries.  In the mouth the lively wine had flavors of bright red fruit which eventually turns blue.  There is a lightness in the weight but it is well done with a bit of depth.  There is forward acidity, grape fruit tannins, and raspberries in the finish.  With air it becomes perfumed and fruity with additional flavors of raspberry candy.  The tannins take on a powdery quality.  *** Now-2014.

2008 Cantine Volpetti, Campo Alle Rose, Cesanese Del Lazio – $8
Imported by Siema Wines.  This wine is 100% Cesanese Del Lazio.  The fairly dark color is a medium+ ruby with a hint of garnet.  In the mouth there is ripe, almost sweet, fruit which becomes black fruit with racy, mineral support.  The finish is a touch spicy with sweet fruit as the flavors tighten up.  A solid wine.  ** Now-2014.

Tasting Wine at 34,000 Feet….Live!

June 17, 2011 4 comments

I thought it would be fun to taste through some wines this morning at Vino Volo. This wine store and tasting bar is located at Sea-Tac airport. For some reason it was closed at 7:00am. So the next best thing is to taste wine on my Alaskan Airlines flight back to Washington, D.C. Of course you cannot bring bottles of wine on the plane then open them up to taste. Instead I asked for a red wine and was handed the Sutter Home Merlot.  I think they forgot to charge me for the wine.

My Tasting and Blogging Area

I am currently at 34,000 feet but we are slowly climbing in altitude so I might be higher by the time I post this.  Is it feasible to taste wine on a plane crammed in a middle seat?  It is but has proven to be quite difficult.  Clearly the tiny desk and my giant laptop preclude having more than one or two mini bottles open at a time.  Then there is the matter of tasting, typing, not spilling on my neighbors during the turbulent shakes of the plane, and finally cabling up the camera.  But I persevered so that I could bring you this unique tasting note.  My neighbors, once curious as to my actions, have now fallen asleep.

The Author Tasting Wine on the Plane

This 187 mL bottle is made out of plastic with a screw cap. It includes a $0.15 deposit for the state of Maine.

The Bottle of Wine

2009 Sutter Home, Merlot, California
There is a bright, grapey nose, that is a bit “winey.”  In the mouth it actually surprises with some underlying grip and slightly chunky tannins.  There is a decent mouthfeel as the red and blue fruits intermix to leave puckering red fruit and tannins in the aftertaste.  This comes across as somewhat manufactured in style but still, it has been great fun to try! * Now.