Thanks to Carl for the great idea on the name for this new feature!
Our first three contenders from my local Schnuck’s have been sniffed, tasted, sampled and spit, and here are the results:
(1) 2005 Mondavi Woodbridge Zinfandel California ($5.99) – 13.5% per label
Why did I pick this wine? I have a soft spot for Zinfandel. Always have. Something about that spicy fruit. And some serious respect for Lodi Zin after reading Rhoda Stewart’s interesting (if a bit fawning) A Zinfandel Odyssey, particularly for those who grow for the Mondavi Woodbridge operation. I figured it would be a solid wine, and it was. It actually turned out to be my favorite of this batch.
Clear medium ruby. The initial nose offers somewhat confected overripe strawberry, mixed with that distinctive Lodi earthiness – sort of a wet, leaf-heavy loam. The nose eventually comes together more compactly still led by strawberry, but it’s more restrained and simple, but pleasant. Pretty slim in the mouth where a dried mushroom note leads the way, well (if modestly) supported by slightly spicy fruit. Good length, and just a scratch of tannin at the death. This bottle held up the best of the three on day 2. In fact, it was virtually unchanged. Ditto on day 3.
(2) 2006 Robert Mondavi Private Selection Cabernet Sauvignon California ($8.77) – 13.5% per label
I chose this one since it was marked down from $13.99 to $8.77 – a whopping 37% off. Why? I just had to know.
Much deeper color – bordering on a full purple. The initial nose is a pretty classy mix of ripe plum and raspberry. It’s all fruit, but it’s nice fruit and not overdone. Medium-bodied in the mouth, with not a lot of complexity. Raspberry leads a linear, somewhat compacted palate. There is a slight creaminess to the mouthfeel, and a decent bit of tannin. Over time though, this really falls apart. After a couple of hours of air, the nose is pretty much gone, and the palate reduced to a wet tannin delivery system. The tannins aren’t out of line, but when that’s all there is . . . . No improvement on day two.
(3) 2006 the Little Penguin Shiraz Southeast Australia ($6.49) – 13.5% (yeah, right) per label
Why? I don’t know. Well, yes I do. I have a somewhat morbid fascination with the “critter” wines that populate so much of the grocery store wine section. Grape Radio, an excellent wine podcast, did a two part (I, II) interview with the managing partner of Yellow Tail, that I found fascinating. I tried a couple of their wines as a result. I didn’t like them, but I understood what they were shooting for, and it certainly manifested itself in the glass. Since the success of that brand, seemingly countless pretenders have sprung up. The Little Penguin seems to garner significant shelf space and was on sale, so I thought I’d give it a go. Oops.
Light bright purple/pink in the glass. It almost seems iridescent. Super fruity in the glass – like someone fermented Luden’s cherry cough drops. There’s a slight menthol-y herbal note in the background, but this soon surrenders to the avalanche of fake fruit. The only thing I can compare it to is Yellow Tail, but this seems even more forced (although I grant that the bottle of YT was over a year ago, and it might be just as offensive – maybe it will be on sale soon). Thick and downright sweet in the mouth with significant rough tannins and very apparent alcohol. This is really unpleasant stuff. Time does it no favors, apart from some diminution in the offensive fruit aromas – they’re still there, but they no longer fill the room on day two. Tannins are even more obtrusive and now somewhat bitter to boot. It was a satisfying act of revenge to pour two-thirds of the bottle down the drain (sorry, drain) – though not as satsifying as getting my $6.50 back would have been . . . .
So, there it is, the first chapter is complete. I’ll be drinking some better, less random stuff to recover, but I look forward to the next installment of Twenty Buck Luck.