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 Dub uf 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.
? Cousi o-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 competitions, regardless of some deserved criticism over the past couple of years, are the great levellers of the wine business. Since every wine is judged blind, price, appellation, and critical acclaim don’t matter, and it’s difficult for judges to vote their prejudices. Yes, lots of expensive wines do well, but so do lots of cheap wines — often to the chagrin of the people who give them the medals.
Few things make the Wine Curmudgeon happier than to find quality cheap wine that earns big awardsl at wine competitions, and especially at the best known. That was the case this year, when the McManis ($11, sample, 13.5%) won a double gold medal at the San Francisco International Wine Competition, perhaps the most prestigious of them all. The McManis was in fine company — double golds also went to a $40 California pinot noir, a $125 Napa cabernet sauvignon, and a $50 Paso Robles red blend.
And why not? McManis, as my old pal Dave Falchek regularly reminds me, is at least the equal of Bogle, one of my cheap wine favorites and a fixture in the $10 Hall of Fame. The petite sirah shows why: a little earthiness and lots of dark fruit, not too overdone, and, most importantly, varietally correct, This is petite sirah that tastes like petite sirah, something that too many producers no longer bother with. Drink this with dinner as the weather gets cooler and don’t be afraid to open a bottle or two at Thanksgiving. A candidate for the 2014 Hall of Fame, since it retails for $10 in much of the country.