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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.

Mini-reviews 54: Beaujolais Nouveau, Cousino-Macul, McManis, 14 Hands

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Reviews 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.

Georges Dubœuf Beaujolais Nouveau 2013 ($8, purchased, 12%): Much better this vintage — less banana and more oomph, including acidity that hasn’t been there for several years. It’s still not as grapey as it should be, but decent enough cheap wine. Good to see that this annual tradition is worth buying again.

Cousiño-Macul Cabernet Sauvignon Antiguas Reservas 2010 ($17, sample, 14%). Chilean red has more in common with California Central Coast style, meaning lots of juicy black fruit and a little herbal aroma, than  it does with many Chilean wines.

McManis Viognier 2012 ($12, purchased, 13.5%): Oily, very fruity (peaches?), and a little bitter on the back — decent enough, but not near the quality of the rest of McManis’ wines. California and viognier continue to be a difficult combination.

14 Hands Hot to Trot White 2010 ($10, purchased, 13%): Nowhere near the quality of the 14 Hands red blend, this Washington state effort has an unpleasant finish and is uneven and disjointed, with an odd fruitiness. Very disappointing.

 

Wine of the week: 14 Hands Hot to Trot Red 2010

14 Hands Hot to Trot RedChateau Ste. Michelle, the Washington state multi-national that does the 14 Hands, is on a roll. It placed four brands in the top 20 in a recent survey of best-selling $10 wines, only one less than E&J Gallo and as many as Constellation and The Wine Group (which does Cupcake) combined. That’s a very Rocky-like performance given how powerful its competitors are.

Equally as impressive is that a 14 Hands wine is a wine of the week for the second time this year (despite this one’s very silly name). I try not to do that sort of thing, but it’s difficult to overlook 14 Hands’ combination of quality and value. Which, no doubt, is why Chateau Ste. Michelle sells so much wine.

The Hot to Trot ($9, purchased) is a red blend – mostly merlot, syrah and cabernet sauvignon – that is simple but well made. It doesn’t try to do too much, and it doesn’t taste like winemaker Keith Kenison used his chemistry set to take it in any one direction. Look for some spice and lots of black fruit and that earthy Washington state feel, especially in the back.

Very nicely done for the price, and should please anyone who wants a glass of red wine but doesn’t want to make a big issue of it. Pair it with basic red wine food like meat loaf and mashed potatoes.

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