Every bottle has a story

I am not a wine expert, but with each bottle I try and share with friends, I learn more. Wine is an exceptional social drink; it is the marijuana of alcoholic beverages because it must be shared. I seek to share with you my thoughts and experiences as I drink the wine in my closet, as well as my enthusiasm for the finds that come my way and the excellent values that I find. I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences too, so please share!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A consistent rosé does it again

Each spring as I go through my round of rosé tasting, I always pick up the latest release from Château Beauchêne. The 2012 Le Pavillon from the Côtes du Rhône lives up to its reputation of being an inexpensive and quaffable wine. These aren't classic wines, but solid performers that are light and easy to drink. The strawberry and kiwi is fresh and light on a mineral beam that finishes clean.

This wine is food-friendly as well. You should be able to find it for less than $10. The producer has a solid reputation for steadiness and consistency. It's a great wine to pick up a case for entertaining, your guests will love it.

I score this with an 8.5 using my scale at the left.

Monday, May 27, 2013

A luscious Bordeaux Blanc

I previously wrote about Château Haut Sarthes Montravel Bordeaux Blanc, praising it for its food-friendly profile, but noting that the citrus was a bit too forward to drink alone.

Guess what? Same blend, different experience entirely. Well, not precisely the same blend. The 2011 Château La Freynelle is another Bordeaux Blanc made with Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and Muscadelle, but this blend is 60-30-10, whereas the 2011 Château Haut Sarthes was 50-40-10. And despite the higher Sauvignon Blanc content in the Château La Freynelle, the citrus notes were decidedly more subdued, making this blend a delight to drink on its own.

Having said that, this blend is very food-friendly as well. This widely-available wine can be had for $10 to $15, and it stood up well with marinated swordfish. It should also do well with lighter fare such as sushi and sashimi. A really nice find for the price.

Interestingly, Wine Spectator (which scored it an 85) notes that this "forward white offers good grapefruit," while I thought the grapefruit was quite subdued. Which is why my tasting notes are just as good as the "experts." At the end of the day, it's all about personal preference.

I score this wine with an 8.5 using my scale at the left.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Another Merlot disappointment

What is it with Merlot? And I mean New World Merlot. Why is it so uninspiring?

I been disappointed with Merlot ever since I tried my first Merlot nearly 20 years ago. It was a Chilean Merlot and I still have a vivid memory of how heavy the oak was. It was as if there were wood chips floating in the glass. And the fruit was just, meh.

Yet many of the great wines of Bordeaux are made with Merlot. Pomerol and Saint-Émilion are both noted as using Merlot as their primary grape, but the grape is widely used in many other regions of Bordeaux. These are fantastic wines.

But as soon as you cross the Atlantic, Merlot becomes mundane.

So, yes, I was a bit skeptical the other day while at Binny's and one of the staff asked me if I liked classic style Merlot.

"I like Bordeaux style Merlot," I replied.

So certain then that he had the wine for me, the salesman showed me the 2010 Markham Napa Valley Merlot, telling me it was crafted in the classic French style and was half-off for Binny card holders. I had a Binny's card. The discount turned a $28 wine into a $14 wine. I thought, what the heck. I grabbed two.

And now I have one bottle left that I wonder if I'll ever drink.

It was very fruit-forward and very oaky. That sense of wood chips floating in my glass came to mind, reminding me of that Chilean Merlot I had years ago. The finish was hardly noticeable. It wasn't awful, mind you, but certainly not worthy of even the half-price $14 I paid. It was more like a $6 bottle of wine.

Perhaps I will use the remaining bottle to cook with. But I'm not drinking it.

I rate this a 4 using my scale at the left.