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Category Archives: Wine reviews

Expensive wine 64: Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

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Caymus cabernet sauvignon 2012The Wine Curmudgeon has a surprisingly long history with Caymus, considering how much its wines cost and that I don’t usually write about wines that cost that much. First, there was this, involving Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, as well as a big-time lunch last year when I tasted the 2003 Special Select, which someone mentioned sold for around $300 a bottle (assuming you could find it).

So I shouldn’t have been surprised when I was asked to participate in a Twitter tasting for the Caymus 2012 cabernet sauvignon ($60, sample, 14.6%), honoring the winery’s 40th anniversary. Which I agreed to do, and then had to cancel because I forgot I was judging the Critics Challenge that weekend and couldn’t do both.

Which would have been fun, because this is an intriguing wine — full of fruit and oak in a style I don’t usually like, but put together with such passion and honesty that even I can appreciate it. In fact, I tasted the wine with The Big Guy and L. Kleinpeter, and each was raving: “Intense.” “Well integrated.” “Rich and luscious.” And, perhaps the biggest compliment: Both would buy the Caymus, and these are two people who spend a lot of time drinking cheap wine with me.

The Caymus is very young, and the dark fruit (black cherry? blackberries?) practically jumps off the glass when you put your mouth over it, though it should age gracefully over the next couple of years. This is a wine loaded with sweet fruit, as these wines almost always are, but the fruit is part of the whole, and the tannins are fine and almost tasty, something that is not easy to do. In this, it is a wine that is exactly what people who appreciate Napa cabernet want, and done impeccably.

Mini-reviews 62: Hot to Trot, Sauzet, Dr. Pauly, Chateau St. Jean

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Mini-reviews 62: Hot to Trot, Sauzet, Dr. Pauly, Chateau St. JeanReviews of wines that don’t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another. Look for it on the final Friday of each month.

14 Hands Hot to Trot Red 2012 ($9, purchased, 13.5%): The problem with this red blend is not that it’s very ordinary and slightly sweet (probably somewhere around E&J Gallo’s Apothic), but that it doesn’t say, on either front or back label, that it isn’t dry. As has been noted many times here and elsewhere, producers have an obligation to share that information. Otherwise, dry red drinkers will buy something they don’t want and sweet red drinkers will pass it by. The Wine Curmudgeon expects more from 14 Hands than this kind of winery sleight of hand.

Etienne Sauzet Bourgogne Blanc 2012 ($43, purchased, 12.5%): Impeccable white Burgundy (chardonnay from the Burgundy region of France) from one of my favorite producers. Layers and layers of complexity, just like much more expensive wines from specific appellations within Burgundy. Still young, and I could have held on to it for six months or more. Some oak when first opened, but the wine eventually evens out to become a traditional Sauzet with white pepper and green apple fruit. Very reasonably priced considering the quality. Highly recommended.

Dr. Pauly-Bergweiler Bernkasteler Badstube am Doctorberg Riesling Kabinett 2010 ($27, purchased, 7.5%): Gorgeous German riesling, rich and full, with honey, lemon, and minerality — exactly the way it should be, as anyone who appreciates this kind of wine can attest. Yes, it’s sweet, but it’s supposed to be; in fact, it’s surprisingly heavy and needs food (tuna steaks, perhaps?. Highly recommended.

Chateau St. Jean Fumé Blanc 2012 ($12, sample, 13.5%): California sauvignon blanc is flabby, heavy, and without any sort of style or grace, to say nothing of fruit. This used to be one of those wines that you could always count on; now it’s stuff sold at the grocery store.

Barefoot wine review 2014

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barefoot wineThis year’s verdict for the best-selling wine brand in the U.S., with some 11 million cases? Much, much better than I expected, and perhaps the two best I’ve tasted since I started doing annual Barefoot wine reviews in 2009.

The Barefoot Bubbly Brut Cuvee NV ($10, purchased, 11.5%) won a platinum medal at the Critics Challenge, and that’s a tough audience. I don’t know about platinum, which is one medal above gold, but this is a quality sparkling wine that tastes exactly like it is supposed to taste — crisp apple fruit and a little creaminess. It was wine, and not like something put together by the marketing department to appeal to consumers who assume sparkling wine should be sweet and gooey. The bubbles weren’t quite as tight and long-lasting as I like, but given that the wine is made using the charmat method (common for less expensive sparklers and which results in less impressive bubbles), they weren’t bad. I’d buy it again, and serve it blind to get a few giggles.

The only problem? Price, ironically, which may be the only time in wine writing history that price will be mentioned as a problem with a Barefoot product. Much cava, made with the more expensive methode champenoise, costs less than the Barefoot, and is at least the same quality. And other California bubblies, like Korbel, are methode champenoise and about the same price. But Barefoot, knowing its audience likely doesn’t know the difference between charmat and methode champenoise (or much care), probably isn’t overly concerned.

The Barefoot Zinfandel NV ($6, purchased, 13.5%), meanwhile, is exactly the kind of wine that helped make the brand such a success. It’s dry, but loaded with the kind of fake oak that lends a chocolately finish, giving it the flavor profile that Barefoot reds are famous for. Having said that, the oak isn’t offensive — just obvious. In fact, minus the oak, the wine reminded me of the inexpensive, brambly, dark berry, and low alcohol zinfandels I drank in the old days and hoped would become the next big thing in cheap wine but didn’t.

Is the zinfandel a value the way Aldi’s $5 Vina Decana tempranillo is? Probably not, but the Decana is a $10 Hall of Fame wine. But it’s certainly a value compared to most of the $10 red wines, with their cute labels and sweet fruit, that overwhelm grocery store shoppers. That’s not a bad thing for a $6 wine, is it?

More Barefoot wine reviews:
Barefoot wine reviews 2013
Barefoot wine review 2012
Barefoot wines (again): Value or just cheap?

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