The theme for this tasting was Fourth of July/picnic beverages, as such, there are some odd ones towards the end. Normally I skip these on the wine blog, but Saturday's selections were interesting.
Wine 1: Broadbent Vinho Verde. Portugal. The famous "green wine" of Portugal, this is a lightly fizzy, low alcohol, medium sweet wine. Decent enough flavors, but the kind of thing you want to serve to a novice drinker, a teenager, or the elderly. Give me something that fights back, damnit! $10.
Wine 2: 2004 The Jibe Sauvignon Blanc. New Zealand. Everything I love about New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc--firm acid, amazing grapefruit flavors, and a light finish. Perfect summertime wine. $15.
Wine 3: 2002 Red Bicyclette Chardonnay. France. This is part of Gallo's attempt to rebrand French table wines for the anti-French American market. How do they do this? By focusing on romantic pastoral views of the French, the more positive stereotpes. This strategy has been very successful. I enjoy the Merlot, but this Chardonnay is forgettable. There's a lemondrop aroma and slight lemony flavor that I found offputting, with a slightly bitter finish. If you want an inexpensive French Chardonnay, go for non-vintage white Burgundy. $10.
Wine 4: 2004 Wine Block Chardonnay. California. Comes in a 1.5 Liter box, made by Kendall-Jackson but not found on the website. This is a very basic unoaked Chardonnay, thin with a mild flavor. Unimpressive, but a bargain. $10.
Wine 5: Black Box Chardonnay. California. 3 Liter box. I had been looking forward to this wine, as I'd heard it was a higher end boxed wine, and might be good to keep in the fridge for cooking and occasional consumption. Ack. I actually dumped most of my sample out and drank a few glasses of water. There's a very cheap white wine flavor--hard to describe, but think rotten fruit and eye-watering acidity. Nasty. $25.
Wine 6: 2004 Clos La Chance Rosé. California. Hurrah! A delightful dry rosé. Slight strawberry nose and flavor, made from Grenache and Syrah. I really enjoyed this one. $13.
Wine 7: 2003 Cavalchina Bardolino. Italy. Delightful little Italian wine that will surprise you--almost no tannins, this tastes a little like a Beaujolais. Banana aromas on top, with a very light cherry flavor. Fun wine. $15.
Wine 8: 2002 La vieille Ferme La Sira. France. A very tannic, dry and ashy Rhone blend, Grenache and Syrah. Unimpressive but not bad. $10.
Wine 9: 2003 Laetitia Estate Pinot Noir. California. Amazing wine. Soft on the start, good dark plum flavors, light tannins, and a smooth finish. $23.
Wine 10: Hardy's Stamp Shiraz. Australia. 3 Liter box, couldn't find a website. Supposedly this is the same wine that they put in bottles, so the quality should be the same. I haven't tried them side by side, but there's no reason why this wouldn't be true. It's a light wine with no tannins, very little black pepper aroma, and not much in the way of fruit. It's not bad, but not something I'd get either. $17.
Cocktail 1: Cuervo Golden Margarita. 1.75 Liter bottle. This is a premixed margarita aiming for a more top shelf flavor than the other premixed cocktails. It's made with José Cuervo Gold, lime juice, and Grand Marnier. The full list of ingredients isn't in there, but there's a heavy dose of sugar. If it weren't for the sugar, this would be perfect, but I think it will sell better as is. Very smooth flavor, and you can't even really taste the tequila. Lovely golden color, but you can't taste a lot of the lime (the orange from the liqueur overwhelms the lime). Probably a great idea for a party, but needs to be served over ice in small quantities. $20.
Cocktail 2: Party-A-Go-Go Lime Margarita. 1.75 Liter box, no website found. Imagine rubbing alcohol with a cup of sugar thrown in it. Couldn't taste anything else, but supposedly there's lime of some sort in there. This was one of the most foul beverages that has ever passed my lips. Avoid at all costs. Another dump, rinse, and couple of glasses were required to get over this turkey. Spend the extra buck and go for the Cuervo. I think this company makes a whole line of other premixed cocktails in a box, but I'm going to stay away. $19.
Liqueur 1: KeKe Beach Key Lime Cream Liqueur. Wow--this was really delicious. It's the pale green color of pistachio pudding. Tastes just like key lime pie filling, and I was picking up a bit of graham cracker flavor, but that could have been psychological. (Hey, it looks like they really add a touch of graham flavoring!) Like I said, this is really good, but I couldn't say how or when to serve it, except as a post-dinner light dessert. Could be fun to boost the flavor of a key lime pie. $18.
Liqueur 2: Voyant Chai Cream Liqueur. No website. Think about the flavor of a chai latte, concentrated with cream and a bit of alcohol. Quite tasty on its own, it supposedly goes great with coffee or black tea. $24.