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Crappy Wine Finds


JPW
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As a corollary to the "Great Wine Threads"...

Like everyone who searches for good wine deals on inexpensive bottles, I run accross the occasional stinker.

I'm not talking about a bad bottle (i.e. corked), or a wine that you just don't care about. I'm talking shit wine that never should have left the vineyard.

Had one myself last night -- Reinares, rose, Tempranillo/Grenache.

First off, a very odd almost copper-y color. No noticable nose, the tannins of a red without the fruit or body, further emphasized by absolutely no sweetness. Absolutely no balance.

Reminded me of a delicate red garment that gets thrown in the wash with some whites by mistake. Add some bleach and your shirt ain't red no more. It's also got no body or substance left.

First time in a long time I dumped the contents of a bottle down the sink and reached for something else.

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Being in the wine business (and forgive me if any of you SELL this wine), but a manager of mine once said that if you want your Chardonnay to look really good, taste it out next to Clos Du Bois Chardonnay. That stuff makes swill look like Puligny Montrachet! (Not that I was selling swill, mind you :-) )

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Being in the wine business (and forgive me if any of you SELL this wine), but a manager of mine once said that if you want your Chardonnay to look really good, taste it out next to Clos Du Bois Chardonnay.  That stuff makes swill look like Puligny Montrachet!  (Not that I was selling swill, mind you :-)  )

I'll never understand how Clos du Bois Sonoma Chardonnay continues to sell. It is characterless.

I'd like to add, stay the hell away from any wine from Smoking Loon. They are terrible.

I could fill this thread with wines that are foisted upon me week after week, but I'll try to stick to some of the most egregious offenders.

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Just tried some new South African wines today: Kumala

In short, they were dreadful, all new oak from inner-staves, and the guy actually mentioned how many grams/liter of residual sugar they had, which was up to .9!

They are inexpensive - probably retail under $9, but beware, they are not worth trying.

It's sad, because South Africa has some of the coolest, hippest wines on the market, and the dollar is so favorable against the rand, that they tend to be excellent bargains.

This company obviously puts profit above quality.

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Just tried some new South African wines today: Kumala

In short, they were dreadful, all new oak from inner-staves, and the guy actually mentioned how many grams/liter of residual sugar they had, which was up to .9!

They are inexpensive - probably retail under $9, but beware, they are not worth trying.

It's sad, because South Africa has some of the coolest, hippest wines on the market, and the dollar is so favorable against the rand, that they tend to be excellent bargains.

This company obviously puts profit above quality.

Yes, these are sh*tty. Sticky, gutless Yellowtail clones. Sadly, they are also currently by far the biggest-selling S.A. wines in Britain, to the tune of 3.5 million cases a year, and will no doubt do just fine here too among the segment of the market that likes that kind of thing.

Quick rule of thumb for South African and Aussie wines: If the name is self-consciously "indigenous" and there's any kind of funky animal theme going on on the label, save yourself the heartache and pour it down the sink.

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Cats Phee on a Gooseberry Bush Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand.  It doubles as a drain cleaner!

(Try new Shimmer, it's a dessert topping AND a floor wax!  Tastes great and just look at that shine!)

LOL - I had that wine a month ago and enjoyed it! Maybe I was hypnotized by the "witty" name. I concur on Yellow Tail - yuck. Same for Valley of the Moon Shiraz (from Trader Joe's). I think Los Vascos cabernet (Argentina?) is pretty terrible too, although it seems to be selling just fine. I guess Charles Shaw wines are too easy of a target and not worth mentioning?

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Without sounding too obvious, anything with the word "pee" on the label, and even worse if "pee" is spelled "ph" as in "phat" you are seriously taking a risk. It could be "Phee on Fois Gras" "Phee on truffles" or "Phee on Coconut Shrimp", and I'd still pass it up........

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Without sounding too obvious, anything with the word "pee" on the label, and even worse if "pee" is spelled "ph" as in "phat" you are seriously taking a risk.  It could be "Phee on Fois Gras" "Phee on truffles" or "Phee on Coconut Shrimp", and I'd still pass it up........

Ha!

They are obviously trying to capitalize on the French notion of "Pipi de chat" as a common descriptor of a certain aspect of Sancerre. Come to think of it, Scheurebe is sometimes credited with that aspect as well. Must be a sulphur thing. I'll have to look into the science of that.

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I recently went on a tour/tasting at Williamsburg Winery, and had one of the worst wines that I have ever tasted! If you happen to come across the Williamsburg Winery Merlot, drop what you are doing and leave the area immediately...unless you like drinking a substance that tastes like liquefied black pepper.

Oh yeah, the tour and most of the other wines sucked.

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Today I had the unfortunate opportunity to taste yet another new commercial label out of France. It is from the Louis Bernard people and they are targeting women wine drinkers specifically with this stuff.

It is called "Lulu B." (www.Lulubwine.com)

I tasted a Chardonnay, which was very flat to me (not "crisp and Burgundian", as the rep was trying to convince me), a Pinot Noir with no recognizable Pinot Noir character and a Syrah with no recognizable Syrah character.

These wines will probably retail around $8.99 and they have Stel-Vin closures, which might be their most redeeming characteristic.

They are harmless in the most commercial and mercenary sense. I'm not going to order them for the store, but I'm sure that many stores will fall all over themselves to sell them. They are going after women who buy wines solely based upon the label, and I think that they ought to be ashamed of themselves. You will begin to see ads for this stuff in Marie Claire and other national magazines very soon if not already.

Know thy enemy:

LuluB.jpg

Because all tastes are subjective, let me be a bit more gentle than I normally might and simply say, PLEASE taste these wines before you decide to buy them, if the opportunity presents itself. As I say, they aren't BAD, there's just "not a lot of THERE, there" as I like to say. Very little substance and I'm sticking with my contention that they are varietally uncharacteristic to the point of being innocuous.

Caveat Emptor.

Normally, I'd spare folks this sort of realization, but I feel duty bound to issue the wine equivalent of a small craft warning with regards to Lulu B.

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Today I had the unfortunate opportunity to taste yet another new commercial label out of France.  It is from the Louis Bernard people and they are targeting women wine drinkers specifically with this stuff.

It is called "Lulu B."  (www.Lulubwine.com)

...

Caveat Emptor.

Normally, I'd spare folks this sort of realization, but I feel duty bound to issue the wine equivalent of a small craft warning with regards to Lulu B.

Joe -

Right on. I tasted these wines in November on a wine trip in the Rhone, at the end of a day visiting Rasteau and Gigondas. Suffice to say they make Red Bicyclette taste good. (Although RB's rose is actually quite nice ...)

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I agree. The wines aren't "badly made," per se, but they don't offer much beyond the label.

There's been much hoopla lately surrounding research showing that women are becoming the biggest purchasers of wine, especially at the lower price points. Some producers are clamoring to get at this market.

But labels, and marketing schemes, like this one are, in my eyes, condescending to women. And wines like this- non-traditional, mass-market wines from regions with a long history- are an insult to the regions they come from.

I think this line of "wines" is shameful.

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I agree. The wines aren't "badly made," per se, but they don't offer much beyond the label.

There's been much hoopla lately surrounding research showing that women are becoming the biggest purchasers of wine, especially at the lower price points. Some producers are clamoring to get at this market.

But labels, and marketing schemes, like this one are, in my eyes, condescending to women. And wines like this- non-traditional, mass-market wines from regions with a long history- are an insult to the regions they come from.

I think this line of "wines" is shameful.

Designing labels to appeal to whatever demographic you hope will buy it is only a "dumb" idea except if you understand that most people looking for wine are clueless and those folks will buy according to the label which most attracts them. Hey, I've actually been "treated" to FAT BASTARD because someone was intrigued by the name. But ask yourselves: If you really didn't know much at all about wine what would you look for? Why, the label, of course. (I could tell you about the time my mother was in town and wanted to see the 4th of July fireworks on the mall and was tasked with bringing some wine. She forgot the corkscrew, so I was in the position of looking around for somebody who was more prepared and having to apologize for opening a bottle of SUTTER HOME WHITE ZINFANDEL. :lol: )

This was before the Parks Service decided to actually enforce the "NO ALCOHOL" rule.

Need I say that my mother was never again asked to supply the wine for any get-together?

Edited by Barbara
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Being in the business of selling wine, I see this all the time- lots of folks, especially younger people, gravitate toward eye-catching labels or neat little gimmicks.

I hope that these same people become more interested in wine, and if it takes critter labels or characters like Lulu B. to do it, part of me is okay with that- as long as they start to seek out really interesting stuff later on.

but at the same time, I think wines like this are a threat to the traditions and unique cultures that make up each wine region's identity. I also think it's fundamental that even novice wine drinkers be shown that good wine is, first and foremost, about the place it comes from.

labels like this just serve to confuse people. Lulu B. may as well be from Australia, or California, or Singapore; there's no effort made by the producer to distinguish this as a Southern French wine. That kind of marketing does not bode well for the future of fine wine.

OK rant over. Back to my bottle of Andrew Will's Cuvee Lucia Merlot. Great stuff...and so definitively Washington State!

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Well, I think part of the problem is how much of a glut of juice is out there. Winemakers/winery owners/corporations are trying not to lose money, and there are so many mediocre vineyards. The truth is, seasoned & knowledgable wine drinkers are not where the market growth is - or the "new" conusmers. The market growth is with young beer & "cosmo" drinkers who socialize and the drink is hip, yet arbitrary.

So, the equation is simple: Appeal to the beer and martini market and make wine easy to understand, "cute" to say outloud when ordering it, and hip with great, colorful gimicky labels that look great on the advertising pages of pop-culture magazines.

The beauty is, hopefully we will continue to cultivate a new group of younger wine drinkers. The sad thing is, these people are drinking sub-par juice and learning about wine based on these bottles.

It will be interesting to see how this plays itself out, but I've read statistics that say that beer and liquor are losing ground and wine is growing as far as consumption volume-wise (Marriott Hotels did a study and published it in Sante' magazine last fall).

I can say that Yellow Tail has done wonders for the Australian wine business - while it is a monster, I'm grateful for the doors it has opened for my own business.

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I agree. It's absolutely a paradox. We all want wine to become more popular, but the gospel we want to spread certainly isn't the one that's being spread by Lulu B., Yellow Tail etc.

The argument is made that without these large brands and their marketing prowess, we wouldn't be experiencing the increasing demand and growing market for wine that we're seeing. It sounds like you believe that as well.

Maybe I'm a hopeless idealist, but I'd like to think that the increasing demand is part of a cultural shift, and the yellow tail phenomenon simply stepped in to take advantage of it. Without that brand, I think that lots of wines would have fit the bill of being delicous, easy-drinking wines for young people to bring to parties etc., and maybe a more diverse bunch of wine types would have been introduced to novice wine drinkers.

In either case, I agree with you. And I also hope that the trend continues, and that all these folks who are buying up all these gimicky labels will become more "serious" about what they're drinking later on. I've seen that happen plenty of times myself, so I'm optimistic.

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I agree. It's absolutely a paradox. We all want wine to become more popular, but the gospel we want to spread certainly isn't the one that's being spread by Lulu B., Yellow Tail etc.

The argument is made that without these large brands and their marketing prowess, we wouldn't be experiencing the increasing demand and growing market for wine that we're seeing. It sounds like you believe that as well.

Maybe I'm a hopeless idealist, but I'd like to think that the increasing demand is part of a cultural shift, and the yellow tail phenomenon simply stepped in to take advantage of it. Without that brand, I think that lots of wines would have fit the bill of being delicous, easy-drinking wines for young people to bring to parties etc., and maybe a more diverse bunch of wine types would have been introduced to novice wine drinkers.

In either case, I agree with you. And I also hope that the trend continues, and that all these folks who are buying up all these gimicky labels will become more "serious" about what they're drinking later on. I've seen that happen plenty of times myself, so I'm optimistic.

Cheers to the critter wine drinkers! May they drink the shitty wine, keep buying more, and leave us the good stuff! :-)

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I agree. It's absolutely a paradox. We all want wine to become more popular, but the gospel we want to spread certainly isn't the one that's being spread by Lulu B., Yellow Tail etc.

The argument is made that without these large brands and their marketing prowess, we wouldn't be experiencing the increasing demand and growing market for wine that we're seeing. It sounds like you believe that as well.

Maybe I'm a hopeless idealist, but I'd like to think that the increasing demand is part of a cultural shift, and the yellow tail phenomenon simply stepped in to take advantage of it. Without that brand, I think that lots of wines would have fit the bill of being delicous, easy-drinking wines for young people to bring to parties etc., and maybe a more diverse bunch of wine types would have been introduced to novice wine drinkers.

In either case, I agree with you. And I also hope that the trend continues, and that all these folks who are buying up all these gimicky labels will become more "serious" about what they're drinking later on. I've seen that happen plenty of times myself, so I'm optimistic.

I think your logic is sound. My first beer was a Bud. I can assure you the last beer I had wasn't even in the same galaxy, let alone ballpark, in style and quality.

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