March 13Worst wines to date!
We feel the hurt like millions of other Americans. I was laid off the first of the year, and we’re barely able to make ends meet. Of course that doesn’t mean we’ve stopped drinking wine! It just means we have to buy cheaper daily drinkers and drink “the good wines” less often. So with that, I’ve been exploring some inexpensive, no, downright CHEAP wines from Trader Joe’s. We’ve had some decent ones, some good ones, and these two. Yes, I’m going to put two wines in one post. They are two varietals from La Finca wines of the 2010 vintage. And no, I don’t think age will help these wines at all… nothing will. They are from the Finca La Celia vineyards in the foothills of the Argentine Andes. I’m not going to post what’s on the back label, but suffice to say, it ISN’T describing what’s in the bottle. What it describes is a typical wine of the variety from that region. It is what they WISH they were making. False advertising if ever there was such a thing. I think the other labels of Mendoza should shut these guys down – or buy them out just to protect their reputation!
So, not that you need a description of these wines, but…
Both are very light and relatively devoid of fruit. The Malbec is the less-bad of the two. At least it was clear – the Cabernet Sauvignon was a little cloudy. They both taste like they’re high in alcohol, but they’re only 13%. A typical Malbec or Cab from this region could carry 14- 16% without being this hot. For both I had to mix half and half with 7-up to tolerate them. Hey, can’t waste it, trashy or not!
OK, I’m done. These wines suck, don’t buy them.
Rating 70 or less
October 222006 Monte Antico Toscana
This is a blend of 85% Sangiovese, 10% Merlot, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Spicy on the nose, and a light to medium color density.
I wasn’t expecting much before opening this wine, given the low cost and who’s heard of an Italian wine with a screw cap? Not me, I’ve only seen it in Aussie wines mainly, and occasionally with Californian wines. But hey, I tried a Cote de Rhone this summer that was not only screw cap, but had a plastic bottle! OK, we’re not talking about a very serious wine obviously, but still… winemakers are clearly willing to experiment.
January 4Familia Sanchez Tempranillo-Syrah 2005
Basically, I’m adding this one because (a) I drank it, and (b) I have to make a post to put it in the “don’t even try it” category. I bought it at TJ’s for $5 so I wasn’t expecting much, but it didn’t even live up to those expectations. Like you might think it should be $2 better than the 3 buck Chilean Chuck, but you’d be wrong. This wine is dysfunctional at best. Awkward every step of the way and I can’t imagine anyone finding a reason to drink it. If it were $1 a bottle I’d say OK, it is the cheapest thing out there for the “kids” to get drunk on, but at $5 you can get a LOT of other wines that are better… even 2 1/2 bottles of 2 buck Chuck.
Price: $5 (TJ’s)
December 10Vinas Chilenas Trader Joe’s – Merlot – 2006
3 buck Chilean Chuck here. When I first opened this bottle I thought it smelled almost as bad as the Cab. It tasted a little bit better, but not a lot. I let it sit for a while and tried it again and much to my surprise, the nose improved a little (although I’m not sure I can describe it accurately), and the taste was much improved. I’ve had much worse wines. I think TJ’s wised up to the high cost of good California grapes/wine and took their business to Chile, where cheap doesn’t necessarily mean bad.
Color is fairly purple and medium in darkness. The nose is kind of cherry-cranberry-cassis and oak… maybe a very light hint of tobacco. Mouth-feel is OK… not big, but not terribly thin either. Rather enjoyable. The finish is mostly cassis and cherry then lingering light tannin and oak.
This wine is certainly worth the $3 bucks I paid, and maybe even worth the extra $3 I wasted on the Cab. I’m not sure it is quite good enough to be my “daily drinker”, especially since we had that Argentine Malbec for $7 that scored 90 points. To us that is a better value… but this comes pretty close in the QPR department. I would probably recommend you try a bottle to see what you think. What have you got to lose? Come back and write about it in the comments, I’d love to hear what you think of it.
Price: $3 (TJ’s)
Let’s call this 3 buck Chuck from Chile. I can understand why TJ’s would want to create a wine from Chile. The region is hot, and produces some great wine for the money. I’m not sure what the overall process was for this venture, but it says it is produced and bottled by Videma S.A.
You know, this might be a spoiled bottle. It smells bad and tastes bad. Or maybe it just IS bad. I also have the Merlot, and it isn’t near as bad, so I think I’ll take this bottle of Cab back to TJ’s and see if they’ll trade for another bottle. If that one sucks too, I’ll just say, OK, this wine just plain sucks. Check out my review of the Merlot.
OK, I’ve traded the bad bottle for a new one, that seems much better. Phew! Alright, let’s do this proper…
Color is medium to dark garnet w/purple. I don’t have a candle at the moment, but I’d say it would light up nicely.
The nose is pretty tight, as would be expected. It ain’t givin’ up much. Maybe some plumb, red currant, and a slight floral aspect. As slight as it is, I’m surprised at how “nice” it is. Maybe its just because of how bad the first bottle smelled.
The taste was also surprising. Mostly raspberries, with a hint of cherry and strawberry, a developing black pepper. Mouth-feel is soft with low acidity and almost nonexistent tannins. Really smooth, and a bit light. The finish is of strawberries and raspberries, lingering black pepper, although slight. There is a slight unpleasantness in there, not sure what it is, but another sip takes care of that.
All in all I have to agree with the few people I’ve talked to about it… “it really isn’t bad”. I like the Merlot better, but this doesn’t suck, to be sure. If you’re on a TIGHT budget, I can’t imagine you could get a better wine at this price. Probably the best wine under $5 ever. If you’re drinking two buck chuck, switch to this set of 3 buck Chilean Chuck. Beware of the bad bottle though! ;-P
December 6De Peloux – Ugni Viognier – 2005
We got this wine at TJ’s for six bucks so I wasn’t expecting much. It sounded interesting… half Viognier, which I have liked, the few times I’ve tried it, and Ugni Blanc, which I’ve never even heard of… but after some research, appears to be a pretty sweet berry.
It is pretty pale, almost straight yellow. The nose is not bad… mostly floral with a little melon, citrus, and believe it or not, a little soapy smell.
When it was still chilled at around 55 degrees, it immediately made me think I was drinking a light and dry champagne. Pretty nice. It was cool and refreshing, like a glass of fresh lemonade on a hot summer day. The flavor wasn’t too bad really, better than I expected. It was pretty similar to the nose, I tested all those smells… but the soap was replaced by what I imagine lemon pledge to taste like (but very slight). The finish is deep in lemon, with the rhine still on, black pepper, and a tiny bit of oak.
If you keep this one chilled, like in an ice bucket, you’ll probably enjoy it when its hot out, or with a salad… something along those lines. Certainly worth six bucks, maybe even 8!
Price: $6 (TJ’s)
November 15Chateau Mayne Guyon – Red Bordeaux Blend – 2004
For $7 (TJ’s) this wine really serves well. If you can spend $7 for a daily wine, this one should be on your short list to try. It is very typical of Bordeaux wines – well rounded, medium bodied, and very nice to drink. Enjoyable no matter how you look at it. This is probably Rika’s low priced favorite.
Appearance: Dark Ruby, clear, very nice
Aroma: Minimal, but pleasant. Alcohol and cedar. This is the weakest point of this wine.
Taste/Texture: Very smooth and full, but not dramatic. Black currant, cherry, cranberry, and slight tobacco. Excellent tannin.
Aftertaste: The highlight of this wine. Excellent aftertaste. Initial aftertaste is very full, with the tannin slipping away after a 5 or so seconds, leaving you with a very nice rich grapey, fruity flavor, but not too sweet. One of the best aftertastes I’ve ever experienced.
rating: 85 Would be very hard to beat for the price.
November 14Santa Rita – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2005
This wine, I think, has potential, but is just not ready. Either that or it just isn’t very good. If want to try this one, maybe keep it for a couple of years before opening it.
Color is dark purple, a little hazy at first, but clears after a while.
Aroma is very alcoholic, too much so, and of cut grass and oak.
Tastes of grapefruit, alcohol, and tannin is like raw grape skins and stems… that sounds worse than it is, as it was relatively full bodied, but not really balanced.
Aftertaste was the lingering flavor of the grape skins and stems, maybe even seeds.
It very well could have been a “dirty” harvest process, or maybe it just needed more time. Not sure which.
I gave it a 65 (not really recommended), but Rika gave it the 40 that our evaluation chart ended up with. I guess I’m adding potential to my score.
Price: $5.99 (TJ’s)
Rating: 50 (split the difference)
November 13Prosperity Red – Cabernet Sauvignon – NV
I actually got this wine by mistake, thinking it was a wine that was recommended to me, but my memory failed me. Even if I had read the label a little I would have passed on it because I typically don’t buy non-vintage wines. In the end, I wasn’t sorry I bought it though.
When I first opened it I thought the nose was pretty intense, and not really in a good way. It was like a strange mix of sweet flowery dirty laundry. On first pour it was murky, which I hoped wasn’t an indication that it had soured. The taste was pretty intense and confusing. Certainly had a taste of grapes and maybe cranberry, but mixed with tobacco and dirt. I swirled it for a good while, like maybe a full 5 minutes and the 2nd taste was improved and the wine had become clearer. Basically, the funk was wearing off. I decided to put it in the decanter and let it sit for a while. About 45 minutes later Rika came home and we tried it together. At this point it was surprising how much it had improved. Obviously I was unfamiliar with NV wines, and later found out this is typical of them. The longer it sat the better it got, but after an hour it was good enough that we just drank it all up. Not to say this was a great wine, but it sure did set itself apart. If you try this, pair it with something like BBQ or steak – something bold… this wine can take it.
A note about this wine – while it claims to be a California wine, both on the bottle and on the winery’s web site, some research revealed that it might actually be imported in bulk from either Argentina or Chile by the California winery.
November 13Les Caves Joseph – Bordeaux Rouge – 2005
This is a blend of 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, and that’s pretty much what it tastes like. It is rare to be let down by a wine from the Bordeaux region, and this one doesn’t either, given that it only costs $5 at TJ’s. Not bad for the price to be sure. Not a lot of nose, but what there is, is pleasant. It has a full and relatively complex flavor with not a lot of lingering after-taste. Goes really well with cheese and other savories. If you’re on a tight budget and looking for an every day drinker, consider this one.