Tuesday, October 14, 2008

cabernet merlot.

x-fact ~ south australia not only has some really good wines, they have some really good wines at really great prices.

little boomey cabernet merlot south australia 2004
paid 3.97
reg @7

that's some crazy pic, huh? i haven't seen pink like that since the mid 80's. but what's this? less than 4 bucks? you don't say!

well, not only does australia have good wines at great prices, cost plus world market gathers a bunch of these wines and a bunch of other wines from all over and offers all of them at even greater every day prices than your average store.

granted, this is a really good sale price, but on the average i find that cost plus consistently seeks out lesser known value wines to offer at great deals in their stores. in addition, they have a lot of more popular and better known labels at great every day prices as well.

now. knowing nothing about this wine except that the name and the label are hokey and would not be given a second glance except for the price, did i get what i paid for? is this swill and i'm not out too much, or is this in the same league as the two buck chuck and i have in fact found another great deal?

it's good. it's no two buck chuck, it's not earth shattering, but it's good enough to write home to you about.

i'm not sure at its true retail price i'd be a regular customer, but it's good.

it starts off a little thin. and it doesn't really recover from that. which is to say, it neither gets worse, nor does it markedly improve.

the most measurable taste is right at the first few sips. there's a bit of a cracked peppercorn taste right at the back of the throat. i know i know i don't know anything about wine and therefore reeeeeeeely try to stay away, BY CHOICE, from the fruity (pardon the pun) descriptions.

BUT, as jesus (who knew a thing or two about wine thankya very much) is my witness it's cracked black pepper, it's only a bit on the back of the throat, it's not offensive, and it goes away after a few sips.

so. that's it. it never got bolder or more flavorful, but, like i said above, it didn't get worse either. in fact, if i could describe it in the most flattering light i'd say it was pleasant and soft.

above all, it remained drinkable. in a pleasant and soft kinda way. if this wine were a person this wine is me at 37, definitely not me at 24. not that i've ever been soft and pleasant at 24 or now. but there's that edge that i've managed to sorta soften and beat into something more resembling pleasant over the years. at least in public around other actual adults.

that being said, if other actual adults invited me and my soft and pleasant self over i could definitely see bringing this wine to a barbecue or serving it at one. (if you could get over the label. but hey, for the price, i dare say i could)

all that grilled meat and snacky foods and condiments. oh, the condiments. the pickle relish would have nothing to fear because this wine would be perfect in that it wouldn't add to the gluttony, nor would it overpower any of the flavors you really want to enjoy.

now that's soft and pleasant. in a wine, or in a girl, at least you know you're gonna make it home in one piece. without pissing off the pickle relish.

and, let's not forget all those salads left too long in the sun. nothing like a little red wine to kill any forming bacteria colonies. good times.

plus, you know when people gather around the grill salivating over the meat and having a few too many sips of something they start breaking into an australian accent. shrimp on the barbie and all that.

well, then, here you go. you can thank me next summer. i hope it's still on sale.

you know, i have to say, further in this wine's defense, there are times when you find yourself dining at a certain kind of restaurant that offers "house wines" by the half or full carafe. generally at a pretty good value.

oh, to order wine simply by one color or the other, "do you want the red or white?" reminds me of my grandma billie. eternal cocktail waitress, hell on wheels, and loved her some half carafe with a side of ice. restaurants with her ALWAYS meant red or white. oh, not for me, i was too young, but let's just say it's a pleasant memory and i don't need to look too far to figure out some of those little, ah, idiosyncrasies i might posses.

anyway, don't get me wrong, i've had some good house wines, but boy howdy have i had my share of crap, too. more crap than good, but it's nearly like it's expected, so you sip away and don't think too much about it. and i'm not being snobby because i do enjoy a good wine value and there are times when beggars can't be choosers and should just sit back and sip happily.

this wine would be an excellent house wine by the full carafe.

and that is a complement.

so sometimes it's better to be a beggar than a chooser. less money, more variety, and a little something to write home about.

cheers! mate!


Tuesday, October 7, 2008


x-fact ~ i stole this picture. i hope they don't come after me. oh, and malbec is a thin skinned grape. perfect for how i feel today. seriously, i hope they don't come after me about the picture. oy.

gouguenheim malbec 2006 argentina
paid 7.99
reg. 12.99

i know the picture doesn't do it much justice, but this is a HANDSOME bottle, no? this is like the pierce brosnan, no! the george clooney, of wine bottles.

the shape, the label, the graphics! (granted, again in the picture the graphics really don't come out, but trust me) i think this is the best looking bottle i've seen in a long time.

this bottle belongs on a beautifully set table. good china, tall candlesticks, a chafing dish or two if you will.

yeah yeah yeah, that's all well and good, you say, but handsome is as handsome does. how does it taste, you ask?

well, i'm glad you asked! i could use a drink right about now!

this is a great wine, but not for the faint of heart. it isn't dry and it isn't dainty. it's a deep and dark and jammy taste, and it's big and gooey and chewy.

i know, i know. but please allow me the completely accurate if not completely overblown descriptions as it's been a looooonnnnngggg day.

this wine is a bit bracing right at the first, right at the top of the mouth at the back of the throat. like a lot of wines of this caliber i assumed this would go away with a bit of warming in the glass and i was right. after awhile it was smooth smooth smooth.

it looks great in the glass, too. a rich ruby tinging to a liquid deep pink at the top, where incidentally the legs start after each sip, trail down the glass, and just don't go away.

darlings, this is a big wine.

this is a wine to pair with food for sure. drink it alone and "suffer" the consequences. i put suffer in quotes as i do believe the last time i reviewed a malbec i mentioned that it was "potential debauchery in a bottle."

though suffer is indeed in the eye of the beholder.

so if you're drinking this with food, what do you pair it with? i'd say a heavier dish or a bigger meal. perfect if you've been invited somewhere and know the dinner will include the full complement of starters, entrees, and sides, a fabulous dessert at the end. you know the hosts, foodies to the core, will go all out. and what will you do? bring this bottle. you'll arrive as a guest, but this wine will ensure that you leave as family.

conversely, this wine also complements a deeply flavored, but simple and quiet fireside meal for two. think individual french onion soups with rosemary rolls, or the one dish wonder that is cassoulet paired with a simply dressed butter lettuce salad. sitting on the rug in front of the fire with napkins on laps, food in hand, and a glass of wine set on the floor beside you.

either way, this is a welcome wine for an autumn evening, perfect after coming in from the cold, and sharing with whomever you are dining with.

tonight there wasn't a fancy dinner or an intimate meal for two, but it was a long day and none of that mattered. debauchery notwithstanding, tonight i'm just glad to have a glass of it and my feet finally up.

and with many an enjoyable sip i ignored the televised debate in favor of watching my youngest create art at the dining room table. i admired his use of color, the imagination that had a bowl of fruit flying through space towards the moon, and fielded questions that included but were not limited to, "mama, do you think the soul looks like a pickle?"

i don't know if the soul looks like a pickle.

but i do know what happy looks like. happy is some wine in your glass, a quiet and engaged and entertaining child at your dining room table, and the close of a long and arduous day. you're not saving the world or just trying to get through the day, you're just being. at last.

the label on the back of this bottle suggests that upon drinking there is a secret that will be revealed and shared regarding the wine's "unique terrior."

the only secret here isn't a secret at all.

do what you love, especially after a trying day. do what you love and the rest comes.