Reviews of wines that don’t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another. Look for it on the fourth Friday of each month
• Freemark Abbey Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley 2018 ($21, sample, 13.7%): Competent, mostly enjoyable California style sauvignon blanc (some grass, some citrus) with richness in the mouth but a surprisingly short finish. Hence, this white wine speaks to how difficult it is to offer value in entry level Napa wine. Because these days, $21 is entry level Napa wine.
• Bogle Vineyards Rose 2018 ($10, sample, 13%): Thin, bitter, and slightly sweet California pink wine with almost no redeeming qualities. Rose for people who buy buy rose at the supermarket because someone tells them they should buy rose.
• Marotti Campi Rùbico 2018 ($18, purchased, 13%): Intriguing Italian red made with the little known lacrima grape from the Marche wine region, which is best known for white wine. It resembles a quality Beaujolais – lots of red berry fruit, not too much acidity, and just enough heft to be interesting. Price is problematic, since you can buy better wine for less money. Imported by Dionysus Imports
• Terra Alpina Pinot Grigo 2018 ($15, sample, 12.5%): Alois Lageder makes some of the best Italian white wine in the world. This is apparently its second label, but why it would sully its name with this very ordinary and overpriced tonic water pinot grigio is beyond me.
Bogle wins 2018 cheap wine poll, its fourth victory in five years; Columbia Crest finishes second for the second year in a row
And it wasn’t even close.
Bogle has won the 2018 cheap wine poll, the sixth annual. It was Bogle’s fourth title in five years, and it took almost half the votes. Washington state’s Columbia Crest was second with 18 percent, while Other was third, with dozens of wines and wine brands getting single votes, including many that cost more than $10.
Barefoot, the most popular wine on the blog and more or less the best-selling wine in the U.S., finished sixth. It had finished seventh each of the previous three years. Finally, Two-buck Chuck, the Trader Joe’s private label, finished last once again — something it has done every year of the poll.
Frankly, given the quality of some of Bogle’s wines this year, its victory speaks more to the sad state of cheap wine than anything else. When even Bogle — a brand I have waxed poetic about for more than a decade — starts adding sugar to some of its dry red wines, we’re in big trouble.
This year’s results are below. You can find the results for 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, and 2013 at the links. I’ll probably retire the poll after this year unless the blog’s visitors clamor to do it again in 2019. It’s not so much that Bogle keeps winning; rather, it’s that cheap wine quality has sunk so far that it seems silly to ask people to reward poorly made wine.
The Bogle pinot noir is, as always, $10 Hall of Fame wine. The same can’t be said for the label’s cabernet sauvignon
How amazing is the Bogle pinot noir ($10, sample, 13.5%)? It mostly tastes like pinot noir. This is unheard of in a $10 wine, and it’s not all that common for pinot noir that costs as much as $30, either. That Bogle can do it speaks to the producer’s emphasis on quality and value.
That’s the good news. The bad news, and it pains me to write this, is that the 2015 Bogle cabernet sauvignon ($10, sample, 13.5%) is as disappointing as the pinot noir is not. The cabernet is soft, flabby, and bereft of almost any varietal character. In this, it’s another example of winemaking by focus group; someone, somewhere, decided that U.S. wine drinkers don’t want tannins or spice or pepper or earth or anything that adds interest to cabernet. Instead, all we want is great gobs of gushy fruit, so any number of red wines that were once worth buying aren’t (like this one and this one). I never thought to add a Bogle wine to that list.
Regular visitors here know of my respect – almost reverence – for Bogle. That is borne out in the pinot noir ($10, sample, 13.5%), which is as subtle and elegant as a $10 pinot noir is going to get. Look for cherry fruit, some peppery spice, a little foresty something or other, and oak that is there to be barely noticed. Again, all qualities I rarely seen on wines at this price.
Hopefully, the decision makers at Bogle will realize wine drinkers prefer wines like the pinot and will return the cabernet to its former style. That, more than anything, is why I included it in this review. Because it’s easy to buy cheap wine; it’s much more difficult to buy cheap wine that reminds us why we love wine.
Bogle wins 2017 cheap wine poll, its third victory in four years; Columbia Crest finishes second
Is it time to retire the cheap wine poll and give Bogle the permanent trophy? That may be the case after the California brand won the 2107 cheap wine poll, its third title in four years.
Bogle garnered almost 38 percent of the votes; Washington state’s Columbia Crest was a strong second with 24 percent. California’s McManis, last year’s winner, was a distant third. This was the fifth time I’ve asked blog readers to pick their favorite cheap wine brand.
Turnout was lower this year, which probably helped Bogle given its name recognition and past success. The Columbia Crest effort was especially impressive given this is just the second year it has been part of the voting.
Barefoot, the most popular wine on the blog, finished seventh for the third consecutive year. Apparently, the people who come here to read about Barefoot don’t vote in the poll. We can probably thank our friends at Google for that.
Finally, Two-buck Chuck, the Trader Joe’s private label, finished last once again — something it has done every year. Does that prove that the wine’s popularity is based on its price and not its quality? I’m not sure there is any other way to interpret that kind of consistency.
This year’s results are below, and you can find the results for 2016, 2015, 2014, and 2013 at the links. The 2018 poll will return next year; maybe without Bogle. If you have any suggestions for brands to add, leave them in the comments.
Reviews of wines that don’t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another. Look for it on the fourth Friday of each month. This month: two reds and two whites for Black Friday 2017
• Ferrari-Carano Pinot Grigio 2016 ($14, sample, 13.7%): Decent enough pinot grigio at a fair price, but nothing that makes it scream, “Buy me!” unless you really like pinot grigio. A step up from the Bollini, and with more California style – some lime and green apple fruit.
• Bogle Vineyards Phantom 2014 ($19, sample, 14.5%): Bogle does premiumization with this red – a rich, thick zinfandel blend that is very Lodi in style. It’s well made and delivers value, as all Bogle wines do, but you have to like this kind of wine. Don’t expect any elegance or subtlety.
• Wakefield Shiraz 2015 ($17, sample, 14%): This Australian red is more interesting, less audacious, and more enjoyable than the too hot, too fruity, and too big shirazes of 10 and 15 years ago. It’s still big, with luxurious black fruit, but those qualities are part of the wine – balanced by restrained oak and silky tannins — and not it’s reason for being. Imported by Seaview Imports
McManis beats Bogle in shocking upset to win 2016 cheap wine poll
McManis, the California brand that had never finished higher than third, collected 55 percent of the votes to win the 2016 cheap wine poll. Bogle, winner of two of the first three polls, finished second, while newcomer Columbia Crest was third. This was the fourth time I’ve asked blog readers to pick their favorite cheap wine.
That McManis did so well speaks to the power of social media, and the number of votes that came from Facebook posts about the poll. In this, it did much better than Bogle or Columbia Crest. Having said that, McManis is quality wine, has been in the $10 Hall of Fame, and is worthy of its victory.
The other surprises? That Barefoot, which was second three years ago, finished seventh for the second consecutive year, and Cupcake finished eighth. No, I don’t know why Barefoot does so poorly. You’d think that since it’s the most popular wine on the blog, based on visitor numbers, that some of those people would vote for it. But apparently not. And Cupcake, whose sales have been flat nationwide, continues to underwhelm in the poll — eighth each year it has been in the poll.
Finally, Two-buck Chuck, the Trader Joe’s private label, finished last again, and didn’t receive one vote. I’ll take it out of the poll next year, along with Yellow Tail. It finished ninth for the second year in a row. We’ll give Cupcake one more chance.
This year’s results are below, and you can find the results for 2015, 2014, and 2013 at the links. The 2017 poll will return next year; if you have any suggestions for brands to add, leave them in the comments.