Tag Archives: Bogle

Wine of the week: Bogle Pinot Noir 2015

bogle pinot noirThe 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

cheap wine poll 2017Bogle 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.

Mini-reviews 103: Black Friday 2017

Black Friday 2017Reviews 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

Bollini Pinot Grigio 2016 ($12, sample, 13%): Ordinary, tonic-water style Italian pinot grigio of the kind that other producers sell for $8 or $9. Imported by Kobrand

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 wins 2016 cheap wine poll

2016 cheap wine pollMcManis 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.

$10 wine

The $15 wine dinner challenge

$15 wine dinnerNuts to restaurant wine prices – a $15 wine dinner you can make at home, even if you don’t do much cooking.

The Wine Curmudgeon doesn’t eat out much anymore, given the silly prices of Dallas restaurant meals, the uneven quality of the food and service, and, of course, the stupid markups for their mediocre wine.

This approach has annoyed more than a few of my friends, who like to eat out and aren’t as fussy (or as stubborn or cranky) as I am. “Come on, Jeff, it can’t be that bad,” they say. And them I invite them to the house for the $15 wine dinner challenge.

The challenge: I’ll make them my legendary arroz con pollo (the secret of which is leftover Chinese takeout rice) and an appetizer, plus two cheap wines of my choosing. If they don’t think that my dinner is a better value – a much better value – than the $100 a person budget busters that the foodies wax poetic about, then I’ll buy them one of those dinners.

So far, so good. Most recently, it was socca, the French chickpea flour pancake garnished with yogurt and tomatillo salsa and served with Bogle’s sauvignon blanc, followed by the arroz con pollo plus home-made guacamole, paired with Aldi’s $5 Vina Fuerte. Everyone was happy, and of course they were all surprised that they liked the wine as much as they did since it was so cheap.

My success with the $15 wine dinner challenge is not as much a testament to my cooking skill as it is to the foolishness of Dallas restaurants, who consider hip more important than quality and value. Consider this, from a news release for a high-end restaurant set to open here: It “will offer breakfast, lunch and dinner items like seasonal salads, rice bowls and homemade soups made with locally-sourced proteins and produce, and a curated bar will serve craft beer, cocktails and wine.” Talk about restaurant-speak; a curated bar, indeed. Somewhere, Richard Hainey is spitting fire.

Or as a friend of mine who is in the wine business said the last time we talked about this: “I go out to dinner to have a good time, not to spend a lot of money for food that isn’t as good as what I can make at home.”

Which is something that I wish more people understood. The food and wine – and the prices – would get a lot better.


Bogle wins 2015 cheap wine poll

cheap wine poll 2015

Bogle wins the cheap wine poll for the second time in three years.

And it wasn’t even close, with Bogle more than doubling second place Falesco Vitiano to win the 2015 cheap wine poll. This is Bogle’s second consecutive victory, and its second in the poll’s three-year history.

That Bogle did so well again speaks to not only the company’s commitment to quality, but to its availability. Bogle combines value with a huge retail presence — as one commenter wrote, “it may be the best wine one can buy in gas stations in Mineola, Texas, as well as Princeton, Maine.” Most cheap wines do only one or the other, and some don’t even do that.

Which, apparently, is the case with Two-buck Chuck. The Trader Joe’s brand has finished last every year, but I guess that it has sold more 600 million cases over the past decade is some consolation to the retailer.

The biggest surprise? That Barefoot did so poorly, finishing seventh after coming in second last year. In addition, given how many people Google sends to the blog to read about Barefoot, that the brand didn’t pick up any of those votes this year makes its performance even more shocking. Barefoot overload, perhaps?

Not surprising? That Yellow Tail and Cupcake finished eighth and ninth. I added them this year not because I thought they would do well, but to include more well-known brands. That they did so poorly speaks to why they sell — the former is cheap, and the latter is cute. Quality doesn’t have much to do with it.

This year’s results are below, and you can find the 2014 and 2013 polls here and here. The 2016 poll will return next year at this time, and I’ll include a couple of suggestions from the comments. And is it time to retire Bogle and let someone else win?
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Winebits 402: Bogle, Ben Kingsley, marijuana

ben kingsley ? The best get bigger: Bogle’s $10 wines have been in the Hall of Fame since I started doing it, and it’s a pleasure to see that the Wine Curmudgeon isn’t the only one who appreciates the brand’s efforts to maintain quality and value. Bogle expects to sell some 2.5 million cases of wine this year, which could push it into ranks of the 10 biggest U.S. producers. The best news about all this? “Regardless of what ?s going on with the economy, people are always looking for strong value, and that ?s at the core of what we ?ve done, ? says the company’s national sales manager, Sam Bon. ?For the price category below us, things are difficult, and for the price point just above us, things are going very well. We plan to maintain our price points.” Take that, premiumization.

? Money doesn’t help: Wine-Searcher.com interviewed Oscar-winning actor Ben Kingsley (“Gandhi”), who can afford to drink wine that that rest of us can only dream about. So what did he tell the interviewer? “The first thing your readers must understand is that I’m not a wine expert. I’m fascinated by wine but it always struck me as a very complex subject. Any tips you can share would be gratefully received.” Congratulations, wine business. You not only confuse those of us who spend $10 a bottle, but those who drop thousands on a bottle, like Kingsley. I wonder: Should I send him a copy of the cheap wine book?.

? Weed with that wine? What happens when you add marijuana to wine, infusing the latter with the former? That’s the question Vinepair attempts to answer, and if you don’t mind more than a few Cheech and Chong jokes, it’s a reasonably interesting piece. We learn, for example, that grass probably isn’t the worst additive for wine, though there isn’t a comparison made with polyvinyl-polypyrrolidone, which is currently legal to add and has something to do with adhesives.