Wine With Milk Wine With Milk

RÉSERVE DURAND. 2013. Sancerre – Appellation Contrôlée, France. $14.99.

IMG_0411I regularly rip on the French because they cannot make cheap wine. At least cheap wine for us in the US of A. They just keep all their good cheap vino because they hate sharing and they definitely hate sharing with us.

I was determined to find at least a $15 dollar-er to disprove my point above and came up with this Sancerre that was on sale (marked down from $17.99, so I don’t know if this really adheres to my under $15 rule, but whatever.)

THE FACTS: A Sancerre is an old school Sauvignon Blanc. Its a region with chalky, stony soils that lie on the east side of the Loire Valley in the North of France. The river moderates temps a bit, the soils are well draining and most vineyards are pointed south for optimal sun exposure because this is quite northerly in latitude. All this helps Sauv Blancs ripen well, unless of course they’re raped with hail….which is a big problem some years. If no hail comes, you got yourself a quality wine that’s fermented and aged in stainless steel, making them crisp, fruity and drinkable asap (at least the cheapy ones).

Again, they’re gonna be on the uptick of $15 because it’s French and weather does effect their vintages, but if you can score one on sale, do it, its a classic.

THE LOWDOWN: Much like a New Zealander Sauv Blanc, but with more body. Tropical sour-y fruit on the nose, like passion fruit. A lot of people call that smell gooseberry too. I don’t know what the hell a gooseberry is but this guy does a pretty good job of explaining. I guess sour grapes is another way to put it. Its clean and fresh on the palate with tart acidity a solid finish and an overall stoney, mossy component that adds its uniqueness.

THE SCORECARD (out of ten)

Look : Light Yellow

Smell :

  • Intensity : 8
  • Smells like : passion fruit, sour grapes, grapefruit, river rocks

Taste :

  • Sweetness : Dry
  • Acidity : 3
  • Tannin : 2
  • Alcohol : 13.0%
  • Body : Medium
  • Finish : 8
  • Taste intensity: 7
  • Tastes like : Smashing one of those Tropicana grapefruit/passion fruit juice boxes while tubing down a river.
  • Good with : tubing, goat cheese (also a Loire Valley speciality), your kids juice box

SCORE: 8.03

     

GEORGES DUBOEUF. Beaujolais-Villages, France. $10.99.

IMG_0409If Beaujolais wasn’t pronounced Bo-shzo-lay (sexy, right?) and didn’t come from France, I dunno if it would be as popular as it is today. Most of it is considered cheap, but the $15-$20 cheap, which is not really my kind of cheap. Definitely French cheap though.

The majority of it is kind of expensive and really not all that great. It just doesn’t bring much to the table. Ask any important dude in the wine world and he might tell you some crap that a Beaujolais is the sophisticated answer to the way the worldly palette is trending now….we are all preferring light, dry, easy drinking red wine. Ask me and I’ll tell you that this wine can be made anywhere and should only cost half of what it retails for. I’d even go so far as to say the average French wino will tell you the same thing…its unimportant wine made to be drunk by the gallons. Thats the way they drink wine over there….with breakfast, lunch and dinner. A lot of that kind of wine will taste like this.

THE FACTS: Beaujolais is a region is Burgundy, but the South of Burgundy, not thee Burgundy – thats to the North….although you could theoretically say you’re drinking a Burgundy with this. Its a region planted with 99% Gamay. Its a grape thats thin skinned, disease resistant and is loaded with juice. So much so you really never get the taste of the skins in the wine because that ratio of skin to juice is quite high. Skins for the most part have all the good phenolics of what makes red wine red and tasty, the tannins, the crazy flavors, etc. Cabernet, for instance, is a much tinier grape with a smaller skin to juice ratio and we all know how awesome they can get.

A thin skinned, juicy grape will oftentimes give you flabby, unexciting red wine and that is exactly how Gamay rolls. It’s then vinified over there using via carbonic maceration (from this post) which promotes this fruit forward, low tannin style of wine. This particular wine is a Beaujolais-Village meaning its from one of 39 designated “villages” in Beaujolais which should be an indication of quality, but not really. This wine is meant for the mass market either way you look at it and it comes off tasting just like that.

Also to note, this wine comes from Georges Duboeuf, who’s the mastermind of this whole Beaujolais fad. He certainly knows how to sell wine, I’d just say he’s a better marketer than a winemaker. Oh, snap.

THE LOWDOWN: Bubblegum and candy cherry on the nose (thats the carbonic maceration). You hit the palette and its pretty lame. Sweet red fruit, but low tannin, low acid, no body and no finish. Its also kind of bitter and green, almost like the grapes just didn’t ripen and were ripped off the vine early, made into wine then sent across seas. In the words of my all knowing gf “its just bland.”

THE SCORECARD (out of ten)

Look : Purple

Smell :

  • Intensity : 6
  • Smells like : bubblegum, cherry extract, grapejuice

Taste :

  • Sweetness : Dry
  • Acidity : 3
  • Tannin : 2
  • Alcohol : 12.5%
  • Body : Light
  • Finish : 3
  • Taste intensity: 7
  • Tastes like : Underripe strawberries
  • Good with : French crepes or American pancakes

SCORE: 3.39

     

BLACK BOX. Malbec. 2013. Mendoza, Argentina. $22.99.

IMG_0408I spend a significant portion of my day bossin up grapevines outside and right now is no easy time to be doing that.  Its hot as balls and June means the vines are going buck wild and need a lot of TLC. Not that I’m complaining, I love it, but this all just leads to me being on a boxed wine bender because frankly I don’t have the time for bottled wine that goes bad and won’t be there the next day.

THE FACTS: There are five glasses of wine in every standard 750 mL bottle of wine. It’s generally seen as the perfect size for a nightly dinner for two because it provides a recommended healthy dose of 2-3 drinks per night per couple. A box of wine contains 4 bottles and doesn’t go bad, so that’s four dinners without cracking open four bottles. Just saying.

THE LOWDOWN: Overall just a simple wine. The Black Box is generally my go to, but as far as Malbecs are concerned you might wanna look in the Bota Box Malbec direction. Darker black fruit on the nose and palate, like blueberries and blackberries. Its medium bodied and just jammed out. Meaning no fresh acidity and no real tannin structure. Its an easy drinker.

THE SCORECARD (out of ten)

Color : Purple

Smell :

  • Intensity : 5
  • Smells like : blueberries, blackberries, dip

Taste :

  • Sweetness : Dry
  • Acidity : 2.5
  • Tannin : 3
  • Alcohol : 13.0%
  • Body : Medium
  • Finish : 5
  • Taste intensity: 5
  • Tastes like : eating a PB&J without the PB while chewing tobacco.
  • Good with : PB&J’S, acting like a redneck, cold pizza

SCORE: 4.75

     

KAIKEN. Torrontés. 2014. Salta, Argentina. $10.99.

IMG_0396If everybody’s so hot for Malbec, whats up with the lack of love for Torrontés, Argentina’s go to white varietal? Beats me because this is some of the most enticing and affordable white wine on the planet, especially if it’s from the Salta province in northern Argentina.

THE FACTS: Salta is an area very close to Bolivia that can best be described as extreme. One, its way close to the equator. Most vineyards in the world can only really ripen grapes at 30 degrees latitude or more….anywhere closer, there’s just not enough of a regular season for vines to grow. Salta is at 25 degrees, but successfully gets away with it because of its ridiculous altitude, which is upwards of 10,000 ft above sea level. That’s two miles up. Aka the same distance upwards of every ski resort in the Rockies. But it works because it’s at a unique sweet spot for grape growing on Earth that’s hot, but cool at night, dry but regular enough in season change to successfully mature grapes. The end result is quite the exotic wine tasting experience, so maybe skip the plain-jane Pinot the next time your at the wine store for a white.

THE LOWDOWN: I don’t know if intensely perfumed flowers grow at that altitude down yonder but the nose on this a floral smack in the face. If you wanna know what a flowery wine tastes like, buy this and take a whiff. Medium body, medium acidity with a whole mix of ginger and a bunch of concentrated fruit on the palate. The finish doesn’t mess around either and veers you right back to that flowery overload.

THE SCORECARD (out of ten)

Color : Yellow

Smell :

  • Intensity : 9
  • Smells like : flowers, roses, apricot, peaches, oranges

Taste :

  • Sweetness : Dry
  • Acidity : 7
  • Tannin : 0
  • Alcohol : 13.5%
  • Body : Medium
  • Finish : 9
  • Taste intensity: 9
  • Tastes like : Eating oranges, peaches and ginger in a Japanese garden.
  • Good with : sushi, landscaping, cleaning sinuses

SCORE: 9.66

     

COLOSAL RED BLEND. Gascon. 2012. Mendoza, Argentina. $11.99.

IMG_0400Colosal in español means colossal in English. And thats exactly what this wine is. Colossal. Not big, large, or full. Colossal. Like a T-Rex. Or The Vet. This is not your elegant Pinot Noir with finesse. This is high powered juice from Mendoza, Argentina…a place not only known for it’s trendy Malbecs, but other big tannic reds like bonarda and cab as well.

THE FACTS: If you’re reading this, you’ve probably had a Malbec before. Chances are its also your favorite red wine. You wouldn’t believe how many times I get “oh thats my favorite wine” in the tasting room I work at.

Malbec’s home is Mendoza, but a late ripening grape called bonarda also grows pretty damn good there. It can be light and it can be fruity, but it also gets weird and is known to throw out some strange notes of meat and smoke. Blended up with its stylish crosstown neighbor, Malbec, it brings freshness and complexity to a sometimes jammed out, overly tannic red wine. Malbec is basically that suave Argentinian dude with the pencil-thin mustache throwing his ultra-sexy dance partner Bonarda around on the tango floor making all the other worldly wines jealous.

THE LOWDOWN: All sorts of quality stuff on the nose ranging from oak spices to meat to black fruit. A deep, high acid, high tannic red thats weighty and robust. You may like Malbecs because they’re big and rich in black fruit, but this things got the added complexity of savoriness and acidity from the Bonarda and Syrah. Soft on the tannin and a long finish with some vanilla notes.

THE SCORECARD (out of ten)

Color : Purple

Smell :

  • Intensity : 7
  • Smells like : blackberries, vanilla coke, licorice, red meat, cedar.

Taste :

  • Sweetness : Dry
  • Acidity : 7
  • Tannin : 8
  • Alcohol : 14.1%
  • Body : Full
  • Finish : 8.5
  • Taste intensity: 9
  • Tastes like : blackberries and licorice while cooking up argentine bisteca.
  • Good with : tango, steak, vanilla coke.

SCORE: 9.77

     

BLACK BOX. Sauvignon Blanc. 2013. Valle Central, Chile. $22.99.

IMG_0399

What all of us should be doing is buying boxed sauvignon blanc and stocking up for the onslaught of heat. Not only will it refresh you at any point in your sweaty ass day, but it’s just about the only wine that will pair decently with that fresh asparagus that is just going out of season. Asparagus is a real mother f’er when it comes to wine. Here’s why.

THE FACTS: Asparagus is about a vegetal as vegetables can get. Its loaded with this organosulfur carboxylic acid stuff and always just comes off tasting really green.

This, obviously, is no bueno with wine. Any wine with tannin or oak will team up with that chlorophyll-carbo-sulfur-whatever and all you’ll be getting is more bitter nastiness. But a crisp, clean, citrusy, sauv blanc that sees no oak maturation? Booyow. It basically livens up your mouth and steers your tastebuds away from all that verdant taste. The three culinary pros cited here will probably give you a better idea.

What’s also quite hilarious is a lot of smart-guy wine experts will tell you new world sauv blancs like this actually taste “grassy” and “herbaceous.” They’ll even go so far as say with age they’ll begin to taste like actual asparagus. So whats better with asparagus than asparagus wine?

THE LOWDOWN: Not really intense on the nose but some peach and pear can be found. No notes of herbaceousness at all. It’s too simple of a wine. Light bodied, easy to gulp down and much more citrusy on the palate. Very lemon-like.

THE SCORECARD (out of ten)

Color : Light yellow

Smell :

  • Intensity : 4
  • Smells like : pears and peaches

Taste :

  • Sweetness : Dry
  • Acidity : 7
  • Tannin : 0
  • Alcohol : 12.5%
  • Body : Light
  • Finish : 7
  • Taste intensity: 5
  • Tastes like : lemon water ice
  • Good with : asparagus, salads, summer

SCORE: 6.40

 

 

 

 

     

CUPCAKE RED VELVET. 2012. California. $12.99.

IMG_0393McKenna Sutton is one strong bitch. We don’t really have to get into why, but all you really gotta know this: she consistently puts unhealthy amounts of arsenic in her body. Thats right, arsenic. Yes, she is Super Woman.

THE FACTS: Check this out. So I guess this wine is loaded with a poisonous, inorganic substance. Well if it’s so poisonous, why aren’t we cheap winos dead right now?

Signs of arsenic poisoning are the following….headache, confusion, excessive shitting and drowsiness. This is also known as a hangover. I get them all the time and I’m fine. So I’m gonna go ahead and call bs on this whole lawsuit. Apparently unhealthy levels of arsenic are also found in many an American’s drinking water. So stop drinking that too? We’ll be fine. Go back to buying all your favorite wine from Menage a Trois, Sutter Home, Wine Cube, 3 Buck Chuck and Beringer.

THE LOWDOWN: Some different stuff on the nose, like a coconutty sun tan lotion somethin or other. Medium tannin structure, low acid and a little bitterness for the taste. Maybe its the arsenic. Kinda short on the finish but theres enough weird flavor going on (bitter chocolate, vanilla more sun tan lotion) where it keeps it interesting.

THE SCORECARD (out of ten)

Color : Purple

Smell :

  • Intensity : 7
  • Smells like : coconut sun tan oil, chocolate covered cherries, vanilla

Taste :

  • Sweetness : Dry
  • Acidity : 3
  • Tannin : 6
  • Alcohol : 13.5%
  • Body : Full
  • Finish : 4
  • Taste intensity: 7
  • Tastes like : dark chocolate cherries eaten while applying tanning oil.
  • Good with : dark chocolate cupcakes, American tap water, coconut milk on the beach.

SCORE: 6.72

     

BOTA BOX. Malbec. 2013. Mendoza, Argentina. $22.99.

IMG_0391

Mem Day weekend is here and to many of us that involves sun, alcohol and grillin’. To satisfy one third of that equation your surefire best bet is the Bota Box Malbec. It’s four bottles in one box, fits great in that unoccupied space on the table next to the grill, and is actually quite pairable with all that meat on said grill.

THE FACTS: Once you crack a bottle open, the wine is eternally f’ed from there on out and will only taste crappier as time proceeds. If you want it to taste good, it’ll only be good for a day or so after opening because now the bottle has oxygen in it. And once oxygen hits wine it wants to turn it into vinegar, kind of like sun on metal with the result of rust….but much faster. Boxed wine is money  because its actually a bag, and when that wine gets poured out, so does the oxygen with it, essentially creating a vacuum to preserve the wine. Genius right? Boxed wine is better. It’s obviously much cheaper, you get more wine, it takes much longer to go bad, and now there are companies out there that make them in a much higher quality (to hell with Franzia).

THE LOWDOWN: Kinda perfumey on the nose, with obvious big black fruit appeal. The palate is easy going, jammy, soft on the tannin and a little spice-erific, especially on the finish. Pretty subtle oak somewhere in there for some added complexity as well. The box says “sandalwood” taste which to me can only mean a beach wood taste because you wear sandals on the beach, right? Actually nobody knows what sandalwood means but its Memorial Day weekend and we all can admit we have “sandals” and/or “wood” on our minds.

THE SCORECARD (out of ten)

Color : Purple

Smell :

  • Intensity : 8
  • Smells like : Blueberry Tastykake pie, chocolate, violets.

Taste :

  • Sweetness : Dry
  • Acidity : 3
  • Tannin : 5
  • Alcohol : 12.5%
  • Body : Medium
  • Finish : 7
  • Taste intensity: 8
  • Tastes like : Eating Tastykake blueberry pies drunk on the beach after the bars have closed with your girlfriend who has put on too much clubbing perfume.
  • Good with : Tastykake pies, grillable meats, post-gamin on the beach.

SCORE: 8.21

     

CHATEAU MONTAUD. Cotes de Provence, France. $10.99.

IMG_0388There is just no love in the American wine market for a dry rosé. It’s true. Check all your local wine shops. Wtf right? Sweet, cheap and crappy white zin…sure. But dry rosé. Not so much.

THE FACTS: The best chance you have of getting any of this refreshing summer-esque wine is from the France section. Shit, you’re thinking, that’s probably gonna be expensive. Not really, because it’ll more than likely come from South France, particularly an area called Cotes de Provence, where 4/5 of the wine produced is rosé. Its a hotter climate where grapes like Cinsault, Grenache and Mourvedre can grow off the hook and instead of taking their sweet ole time to make an age worthy big red wine, these Southern Frenchies simply bleed them off the skins and vinify the pink grape juice like a fresh young fruity white wine thats made for early consumption. The result is the above cheap wine. A wine that’s built for salmon and salads or simply chillin’ outside in the summer heat.

THE LOWDOWN: Pale pink orangish color, with a smell of both strawberries and cream…and Deep Woods bug spray.  The latter probably due in part to some alcohol burn that came through. The taste was quite alcoholic too, which is funny because it’s only 12.5% alcohol. That tells you these were once some overripe hot clime grapes with little flavoring to begin with. But alas there was def enough acidity to bring about some grapefruity refreshness, which is all you really need when the sun is strong and it’s your day off.

THE SCORECARD (out of ten)

Look : Pinkish-Orange

Smell :

  • Intensity : 6
  • Smells like : strawberries and cream, bugspray, strawberry flavored vodka.

Taste :

  • Sweetness : Dry
  • Acidity : 6
  • Tannin : 0
  • Alcohol : 12.5%
  • Body : Light
  • Finish : 4
  • Taste intensity: 6.5
  • Tastes like : Grapefruit juice splashed with Pinnacle strawberries and cream vodka.
  • Good with : salmon, doin nothing outside on your day off, sorostitute parties.

SCORE: 6.46

 

     

FRED’S RED. Mendocino County, CA. $11.99

IMG_0871This wine’s hilarious because it doesn’t tell you what grapes are in it nor the year those grapes were picked. Just that its Fred’s Red, the preferred wine of a dog from Mendocino County.

FACTS: Dogs’ kidneys will explode if they eat grapes, so chances are Fred is long gone by now. And because the wine he stands for gives no indication what you’re about to drink, chances are its light, somewhat sweet and super fruity. That means no complexity offered up from the skins/seeds/pits or any oak maturation. Just a simple, light, ready to drink red. Which aint a bad thing, just know what you’re getting into.

THE LOWDOWN: Off dry, some sweetness, with a straight sweet blueberry and raspberry flavor. Lighter bodied, straightforward and low in tannin and acidity. Simple stuff. We happened to be eating these chocolate covered pomegranate and blueberry thingies from Brookside and that made the wine a lot more exciting. Kinda like saying to the dog-wine “Are we….GOING FOR A WALK!” and having it go bizzerk.

THE SCORECARD (out of ten)

Look : Purple

Smell :

  • Intensity : 4
  • Smells like : raspberries, pomegranates

Taste :

  • Sweetness : Off-dry
  • Acidity : 3
  • Tannin : 1
  • Alcohol : 14.2%
  • Body : Light-Medium
  • Finish : 3
  • Taste intensity: 5
  • Tastes like : blueberries and raspberries covered in sugar
  • Good with : Brookside chocolate covered pomegranates, dog walking.

SCORE: 4.45

     
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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