Wine With Milk Wine With Milk

CLINE. Viognier. 2013. North Coast, CA. $12.99.

IMG_0428Viognier is hipster wine. It’s the “oh you haven’t heard about this kind of wine yet? Let me tell you how amazing it is” kind of wine. Like when the 17 yr old skinny jeaner tells you how awesome the strange band is he just saw and in the same sentence says Freebird sucks.

Well let me fit into those skinny jeans for a second and just go ahead and say Viognier is in fact very cool. Until now I always felt you had to shell out at least $25 bones to bring one home. Or you’d have to do the awful legwork of scouring through the “France” section in the wine superstore. Aka this.

Those days are over, just pick up a Cline Viognier. It’s cheap and it will most certainly assist in your assholish adventure to impress.

THE FACTS: The grape is a low yielder by all accounts and builds up so much sugar so fast during the end of ripening that it has a tendency to essentially get all fried up. This results in an oftentimes overly alcoholic , low acid white that  really needs some attention to retain its delicate floral and fruit flavors. Barrel aging and turning all its malic acid into lactic acid (a process called malocatic fermentation) helps and also contributes to some of the crazier flavors the wine can bring to the table.

THE LOWDOWN: The nose is definitely complex. Pineapple’s there. But that funky pineapple turnover kind of shit, like the funny stuff you get at buffets. It also smells like Old Spice or male deodorant. Thats the floral thing its got going on. The main palates got everything from more pineapple to coconut to ginger to apricot to peach…especially on the finish. Lots of different stuff. Medium to full body, definitely high on the alcohol at 14% and short on the acidity but thats the wine stepping to its own beat.

THE SCORECARD (out of ten)

Color : Yellow

Smell :

  • Intensity : 9
  • Smells like : pineapple turnover, Old Spice, flowers, peaches.

Taste :

  • Sweetness : Dry
  • Acidity : 3.5
  • Tannin : 0
  • Alcohol : 14.0%
  • Body : Medium-Full
  • Finish : 9
  • Taste intensity: 8.5
  • Tastes like : Laying the old spice on thick and going straight for the pineapple turnover at the buffet.
  • Good with : Thai, byob chinese buffets, hipster parties.

SCORE: 9.28

     

LOS VASCOS. Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite). Chardonnay. 2014. Colchagua Valley, Chile. $13.99.

IMG_0995One thing I bet you’ll never taste in your entire life…a Chateau Lafite-Rothschild. And nor will I. Why would we? It’s one of the most expensive wines in the world. It averages like $900 a bottle. Pointless. What you can taste however is the same company’s cheap wine from its expanded regions across the globe and decide for yourself if you want to spend your life savings on its fancy stuff from Bordeaux.

THE FACTS: Here’s the Bordeaux classification system in a nutshell: Bordeaux’s a region located on the Atlantic coast with a river running right through it. On the left side, there’s Left Bank wines and they’re generally Cabernet dominated. On the right, there’s Right Bank wines and they’re generally Merlot dominated.

In 1855, the equivalent to the World’s Fair for French people took place in Paris and the distinguished people of the Bordeaux Chamber of Commerce were asked to rank their wines. They claimed 61 of them kicked the most ass and all of them came from the Left Bank. They then divided these 61 wines into 5 “crus” or “growths” to determine the top dogs. 1st growth or “crus” were the champs and consisted of the following “chateaus” (basically vineyards with a winery) all from the Haut-Medoc region on the Left Bank…. Chateau Lafite-Rothschild, Chateau Latour, Chateaux Margaux, Chateau Haut-Brion and Chateau Mouton-Rothschild (elevated from second growth in 1973).  The four other growths are still supposedly incredible although I really wouldn’t know, I’ve never had any of them because I’m not a wealthy asshole.

The 1855 classification holds true today, even though some of them are starting to slip and suck. One thing you can be sure of though is they will always be pricey as hell.

So I’d say buy a “Domaines” Barons de Lafite-Rothschild from another part of the world and just act like your hot shit.

THE LOWDOWN: This does have some good balance (meaning a little bit of everything) but in the end there’s better Chilean chards. Nose is popcorn and melons, the palate is medium body and kind of “minerally” – just another way to say “austere” or “plain” for a white wine. It has some creaminess and oak to it but its not its all pretty basic in the end.

THE SCORECARD (out of ten)

Color : Light yellow

Smell :

  • Intensity : 8
  • Smells like : melon, popcorn, river rocks.

Taste :

  • Sweetness : Dry
  • Acidity : 4
  • Tannin : 7
  • Alcohol : 14.0%
  • Body : Medium
  • Finish : 6
  • Taste intensity: 7
  • Tastes like : green melon and popcorn snacks by a river.
  • Good with : crabs and butter, movies, hiking.

SCORE: 7.79

     

ålgo®ithm. Red Blend. California. $9.99.

IMG_0994Says the label on the back: “ålgo®ithm: balances your equation to the digital world and the tangible one. A common denominator between friends, it enables you step beyond life’s virtual parenthesis and appreciate the absolute value of true friendships.”

Now what the fuck is that supposed to mean? They come up with the craziest crap to sell you wine, I will tell you what.

THE FACTS: What the front of this label does imply is some sort of chemical equation, which is paramount to winemaking. The mere process of using yeast to turn glucose into alcohol is a chemist’s wet dream. Fermentation = C6H12O6 → 2C2H5OH + 2CO2 if you really wanted to know how its spelled out.

The wine itself is also loaded with chemicals that interact with each other in differing degrees to determine the final product of wine….tartaric acid, malic acid, lactic acid, amino acids, sulphur dioxide, water and carbon dioxide to name a few. Balancing these and combining them effectively will ultimately determine if you got yourself a half decent wine. So if you’re trying to be a winemaker, chemistry is a pre-req and you better enjoy it.

THE LOWDOWN: Although this is a pretty easy drinker and not too rich and complex, its got some interesting stuff going on. Mainly the nose which smells not much unlike Golden Grahams….which are awesome. The tannins are a little sticky but well integrated and the acidity is definitely on the lighter side making the palate a pretty easy going experience. Overall a smooth and tasty vino.

THE SCORECARD (out of ten)

Color : Purple

Smell :

  • Intensity : 8
  • Smells like : plums, Golden Grahams, red berries.

Taste :

  • Sweetness : Dry
  • Acidity : 4
  • Tannin : 7
  • Alcohol : 13.0%
  • Body : Medium
  • Finish : 7
  • Taste intensity: 8
  • Tastes like : having red berries in your Golden Grahams for b-fast.
  • Good with : calzones, Golden Grahams, chemistry

SCORE: 8.16

 

     

JAIL BREAK. Malbec. 2013. Mendoza, Argentina. $12.99.

IMG_0990John_Sykes_with_Thin_Lizzy_2007How sweet is the label to this bottle? The back label, not so much. It gets  cheesy and starts talking about how this bottle is “charged” with using “unconventional winemaking techniques” with a “wine thief” and how the subject is known for “rebellious winemaking.” Lame.

Now shouldn’t they just have the lyrics to Thin Lizzy’s Jailbreak on the back? That song rocks and would definitely liven this wine up because under the prison garb there’s just a cunningly crappy wine that ripped me off with the cool wine label. Oh well, at least I got to revisit that awesome self-titled masterpiece by Thin Lizzy.

THE FACTS: A “wine thief” is not only a jerk who steals wine, but a handy device used by winemakers to remove wine from a barrel, carboy or bin. Winemakers need to constantly taste and test the wine as it goes through its aging cycle to see if everything is going as planned. This 12-24 inch device uses the laws of suction to do just that.

THE LOWDOWN: Kinda interesting nose of pencil graphite which is weird and nice along with red fruit and sweet spice. The palate is all low acid, low tannin red and black fruit with a little bit of bitterness especially on the finish. Def a lot of overripe fruit here, but the tinge of bitterness throws this wine off a little bit.

THE SCORECARD (out of ten)

Color : Purple

Smell :

  • Intensity : 7.5
  • Smells like : pencils, black cherries, cherry pie

Taste :

  • Sweetness : Dry
  • Acidity : 2
  • Tannin : 4
  • Alcohol : 13.5%
  • Body : Medium
  • Finish : 4
  • Taste intensity: 5
  • Tastes like : If you ate an overripe black cherry, stem, seeds and all, while sharpening your pencil.
  • Good with : hotdogs, homework, Thin Lizzy

SCORE: 5.04

 

     

FISH EYE. Chardonnay. 2013. South Eastern Australia. $19.99 (for the box).

IMG_0415I used to avoid this brand like a New York Giants bar. I always thought it was pointless cheap wine cut from the same pointless cheap cloth of the mass produced wine shipped from Australia.

Well today is my day off and on my day off I drink. So half drunk at the wine store I apathetically decide to go for it, hoping to be proven wrong by something that’s well priced.

THE FACTS: There are so many spots in Australia where good wine can be made and for the most part good wine is made…..its just sold to their own kin. The locals have first dibs and unfortunately for us thats just the way it goes.

Big companies like these guys came in not too long ago, took advantage of the many premium grape growing areas Down Under and began to churn out mass quantities of affordable wine for the international market. Think Yellowtail. In the long run, that ended up doing more harm than good because Aussie producers who actually make good stuff and want to sell it here end up getting burned because now our market has a bad taste (no pun intended) for anything Australia.

But now the market is shifting. Just look at the “Australia” section in your local wine store. Those big bottled, crap brands are now being relegated to the “Discount” isle and your “Australia” isle now consists of higher quality, more complex wine.

Guys like Fish Eye needed to get their act together. Judging from this wine, I’d say they’re well on their way.

THE LOWDOWN: The nose is what really “reeled” me in. Big smell of tropical fruit, nectarines, caramel and nutmeg. My girlfriend says it smells a bit like chlorine which to me only adds complexity. The body is medium, soft and rounded with the approachable low acidic taste you expect from a chard. Super friendly wine loaded with a lot of the aforementioned taste from the nose. Decent finish too.

THE SCORECARD (out of ten)

Color : Yellow

Smell :

  • Intensity : 9
  • Smells like : pineapple, v8 Splash, nutmeg, caramelized onion, peaches

Taste :

  • Sweetness : Dry
  • Acidity : 4
  • Tannin : 0
  • Alcohol : 13.0%
  • Body : Medium
  • Finish : 7.5
  • Taste intensity: 8
  • Tastes like : V8 Splash on your favorite floaty in a pool.
  • Good with : salmon on the grill, pools, days off.

SCORE: 9.12

     

Delish. Sauvignon Blanc. 2013. California. $12.99.

IMG_0989You all must think I’m really losing it by drinking a wine called “Delish” with ice cream cones on the front. Whether you know it or not, my mom and/or girlfriend pick many of the wines I end up drinking and this is no exception.

Obviously, I wasn’t juiced up on this wine at all, I mean it looks like something you’d serve up at a cheap bridal shower. But man would this wine make that dumb bridal shower interesting because it comes across with some rather awesome and funky tastes.

THE FACTS: This wine was more than likely exposed to the yeast strain Brettanomyces aka Brett, which is actually becoming quite popular in the beer world. When exposed to wine it can bring out a range of funky tastes/smells reminiscent of band aids, rubber bands, and dirty socks which is exactly whats all over this wine.

Many wineries for the mass market (like this one) will try to stop Brett from joinin’ the fermentation party because who seriously wants to be drinking rubber bands and band aids? Odd kick ass wineries like this one clearly don’t care and see it as a benefit to what many winos like myself feel as added complexity. So cheers to the Sebastiani Family for making a wine that tastes like nasty socks and marketing it to young dumb chicks.

THE LOWDOWN: Pretty forward nose of band aids, grapefruit and some herbs. The palate is crisp and medium bodied with a bunch of citrus fruit, that rubber band taste with a little added benefit of light cream. In all seriousness this wine is weird and “delish” with a nice long finish of gym socks.

THE SCORECARD (out of ten)

Color : Yellow

Smell :

  • Intensity : 7
  • Smells like : grapefruit, band aids, rubber bands, lemons

Taste :

  • Sweetness : Dry
  • Acidity : 7
  • Tannin : 0
  • Alcohol : 12.5%
  • Body : Medium
  • Finish : 8.5
  • Taste intensity: 8.5
  • Tastes like : Airing out your ball shoes while grinding on grapefruits and buttered bread.
  • Good with : ruining out a bachelorette party.

SCORE: 8.35

     

ESTANCIA. Chardonnay. 2013. Monterey County, CA. $10.99.

IMG_0412Aight my bad for the recent run of craptapular white wine. Whats the saying? You gotta get sift through dirt to get to gold? I probably just made that up. Anywho, enough with the simple semi-sweet summer pinots and rieslings. Its time to go big.

THE FACTS: Ever wonder why an oaked chardonnay has more body? Two reasons. One, a lot of the chemical makeup of wine is water which evaporates through the wood when aged in oak casket. This essentially condenses the wine and makes it more rich.

Secondly, when extra ripe chardonnay grapes (aka grapes with a lot of sugar at harvest) are turned into alcohol, there is a relatively higher alcohol content because of the higher initial sugar content. Very ripe, lower acid grapes respond well with oak because you don’t have to preserve the acidity and overall crispness of the initial wine. Higher acid, lesser ripened chardonnay grapes need to taste fresh and retain a lot of that acidity and are thus aged in stainless steel to keep a clean fruit flavor.

THE LOWDOWN: Solid nose of vanilla, caramel and tropical fruit. The taste transitions to more fresh tropical fruit with a mouthfeel thats rounded out and soft in texture. Its rich, its full bodied and definitely creamy, especially on the finish. I’m partial to oaked chards because they’re bigger and just have the added interestingness of cream, vanilla, caramel, butterscotch, etc. All the good shit. Definitely mixes things up from your standard white.

THE SCORECARD (out of ten)

Color : Gold

Smell :

  • Intensity : 8.5
  • Smells like : vanilla, caramel, pineapples, mangos

Taste :

  • Sweetness : Dry
  • Acidity : 5
  • Tannin : 0
  • Alcohol : 13.5%
  • Body : Full
  • Finish : 8
  • Taste intensity: 9
  • Tastes like : a vanilla ice cream sundae drizzled in caramel and topped with mangos and canned pineapple.
  • Good with : crabs and butter, lobster and butter, scallops and butter

SCORE: 9.22

     

WOODBRIDGE. Riesling. 2013. California. $11.99.

IMG_0978This is the proverbial 40 of wine. Cheap and stuffed with more alcohol than your traditional vessel this is a wine meant for stoops, weed and underage parties. All brought to you buy the guy who put California and the New World of wine on the map.

THE FACTS: Even if you’ve only had one glass of wine in your entire life, you’ve heard of Robert Mondavi. The guy’s a legend in American wine. Long story short he graduates from Stanford, goes into a winery with his Dad and brother, fights with the both of them, leaves the winery and starts another winery in Napa with his sons. It’s there he sets out to make quality wine that can compete with Europe and is the first to put the straight varietal name on the label (i.e. Merlot, Chardonnay, etc….before wine labels only had the winery name/chateau/place of origin on the label). He also makes a Sauvignon Blanc aged in oak and calls it a Fume Blanc, despite what experts say is a bad idea. Both things are a hit, Cali wine is now seen as a direct competitor to Europe and he makes a fortune. The sons take over the winery, make a bunch of crappy wine for profit and he dies in 2008.

THE LOWDOWN: Surprisingly strong nose of pear and lemonade. I thought this was wine was supposed to suck? Alas the palate is weak and just comes off tasting like old school lemon-lime gatorade, which aint bad especially if you’re trying to relive the glory days of youth soccer. Semi-sweet, pretty flabby acidity, and short finish.

THE SCORECARD (out of ten)

Color : Yellow

Smell :

  • Intensity : 7
  • Smells like : lemonade, pears

Taste :

  • Sweetness : Semi-sweet
  • Acidity : 3
  • Tannin : 0
  • Alcohol : 11.5%
  • Body : Light-Medium
  • Finish : 2.5
  • Taste intensity: 4
  • Tastes like : old school 1990’s lemon-lime Gatorade
  • Good with : potato chips, youth soccer, stoops, underage parties

SCORE: 5.06

     

BERINGER. Pinot Grigio. 2013. California. $7.99.

IMG_0980You know who likes cheap wine more than me? Moms. They go bonkers for it. You should’ve seen how fast my Mom poured this out when I went over for dinner the other night.

Problem is none of these cheap whites are ever dry and as such they blow pretty hard with dinner. But we’re American right? Who drinks wine with dinner?

THE FACTS: The indicators for anything sweet in the mouth are located smack dab at the very tip of the tongue, which means as humans we can detect sugar/sweet very easily. And that’s no mistake neither. As old school cavemen we lived for sugar because it gave our neanderthal asses an instant energy rush which helped us in wanting to bone all the time and look for more food. Says these science guys anyway.

Either way, we all love sweets. Name me someone who doesn’t.  And producers of cheap wine know this too. When they make wine like this they’ll mask a subpar wine by making it a little sweet, so everyday peeps like my Mom will like it either way.

THE LOWDOWN: No nose really, peaches and apples? I dunno, its simple stuff. Again, its a semi-dry so it was easy drinking for a summer day, but sucked with the chicken dinner that came later. Light and fresh, but not sharp with the acidity to make it super crisp. More like a pear if I had to pick something.

THE SCORECARD (out of ten)

Color : Light Yellow

Smell :

  • Intensity : 4.5
  • Smells like : peaches, green apples

Taste :

  • Sweetness : Semi-sweet
  • Acidity : 4.5
  • Tannin : 0
  • Alcohol : 12.5%
  • Body : Light
  • Finish : 3
  • Taste intensity: 5
  • Tastes like : canned pears
  • Good with : A summer afternoon smashing wine with Mom real quick so you can drink beers with Dad.

SCORE: 4.31

     

BOTA BOX. Riesling. 2013. California. $20.99.

IMG_0386After a solid outing by the Malbec Bota Box, the riesling got the nod. It was a fairly lackluster debut.

THE FACTS: A sweet or even a semi-sweet riesling (like this one) needs acidity to make it work. Its a cool climate grape that’s generally grown in the northern reaches of grape growing (think Finger Lakes and Germany) and as such gets away with not always ripening to perfection because of its naturally high acidity. Sugar is sometimes left after fermentation to balance the hardcore acid out thus leaving a refreshing, non-flabby sweet wine. This didn’t make the cut for me simply because it lacked that acidity. A good indication that this was probably gonna happen would be because its from grapes from all over Californ-i-a, grapes that probably have come from a overtly hot climate that did not preserve a lot of the clutch acidity the wine needs.

THE LOWDOWN: A straightforward nose of basically peach that leads to a pretty unexciting, flat, semi sweet wine of more of the same stone fruit. Maybe a little honey. But flaccid. Which just writing this now is a fairly hilarious word. Point being this wine just does not seem hard and acidity. Yeah.

THE SCORECARD (out of ten)

Color : Yellow

Smell :

  • Intensity : 5
  • Smells like : peaches, apricots, honey

Taste :

  • Sweetness : Semi-sweet
  • Acidity : 4
  • Tannin : 0
  • Alcohol : 11.5%
  • Body : Light-Medium
  • Finish : 4
  • Taste intensity: 5
  • Tastes like : peach-nectar juice
  • Good with : playing Slap the Sack

SCORE: 4.63

     
About Me

My name is Rick. Some of my friends call me Milk. I'm an average dude who knows some things, not all, about wine. Every other night I'm gonna put down one bottle of wine, $15 or less, and tell you if I think its awesome or not and why. Hopefully it'll help guide you through the infinite assemblage of wine at your local wine store. Cheap wine is good, damn good. Trust me.

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