Hi everybody! I’m Marvin and I like cheap wines!

I am still trying to get used to the new awareness of U20 wines. Of course, I am referring to the robust lists of wines in the Wine Speculator under $20 in red, white, and pink. Looks like a couple hundred. If I wasn’t so damn cheap I would buy the magazine and see for myself. However, the gap between tBoW and the Wine SpectatorJulia mouth openCROP.jpg is wider than Julia Roberts’ smile especially when her mouth is open. My god.
I also am not keen on using WS for attention. Honestly. I just find it odd that these lists appear in the same issue – or at least in the same cognitive world – as Tasting Six Years of Screaming Eagle and the demise of the Wine Cask store and restaurant in Santa Barbara due to the economic collapse. [ed. does this mean the futures tasting is finally finished?] Makes one wonder how the subscription curve for the flagship of “lifestyle wine” has trended in the past 12 months.
Robert Mondavi made the Wine Spectator possible. Mondavi created the wine lifestyle genre just like Francis Ford Coppola created cascading scene crescendos to close a film. Marvin Shanken saw the opportunity to create a Rolling Stone for wine as glamorous lifestyle. rollingstonecover_ioiubdkn.jpgJust like Jann Wenner did for rock and roll in the psychedelic era. The RS morphed from one of the first home grown local music zines into a lifestlye bible for generations of would-be rockers and so many more social strata. Is this the path WS must follow? Will WS become a communication hub for the new frugality and value-driven wine consumption? Or is WS more like AIG trying to find any way to survive in the hope somebody, anybody, will offer a buyout that saves face and clears “obligations”.
Get real. Predictable 2010 headline in WS: “Wine World Expo Hosts Will Wait a Year!!”
Here are some wines worth checking out or forgetting about.
MM cab franc 2003.jpg2003 McKenzie Mueller Cabernet Franc Napa Valley Estate $30 (wine club): Sweet, fruity. Cherry and spice. Earth tones common with Cab Franc are subtle now. Even through the alcohol is a bit up there it does not show through in the nose or mouth. At five years the wine has melded nicely. It is also unfiltered which is typical Bob Mueller style. You have to like this style of unfiltered somewhat rustic wines. They are still elegant like a country gentleman. Hello Beauregard. Or maybe Andrew Jackson who was reluctant to move to the White House. I can assure you Bob Mueller would resist moving into celebrity winemaker status. He does not submit his wines for review by WS. I think of his wines as slightly feral. If you are looking for refined, polished, glossy fruit try Justin Winery. 14.8%
From the CarlitosWay Collection
chalk hill cab.jpg2003 Chalk Hill Cabernet Sauvignon $60: Cherry vanilla, solid middle weight, tannic, yummy with the steak and spud at Taylors on Vermont and 8th. If LA has a complement to Sams or Tadich in SF this is probably it with the red and black leather booths. Good long finish. Some black olive in the mid-palate. 79% Cab Sauv; the rest is Merlot, Malbec Cab Franc, Petit Verdot. In other words, a Bordeaux blend. A 94 pointer and sold out at the winery. 14.8%
grgich cab 2003.jpg2003 Grgich Hills Napa Cabernet Sauvignon $75: Aromatic and powerful nose. Medicinal. Distinctly different to the Chalk Hill. This is older style Napa Cabernet. Classic 70s era. Dark black berry in the mouth. Honestly, tBoW prefers the Chalk Hill but I admit I just do not have a palate for wines this big any longer. Of course, you don’t see me pouring out my glass either. 14.7%
chalk hill merlot.jpg
2001 Chalk HIll Estate Merlot
$50: Veggie on the nose giving way to creamy vanilla flavors. Includes 16% Malbec and Petit Verdot which with 77% Merlot begs the question…what else is in here? Not especially impressive. Cabernet is superior (of course the Cab is from a different vintage but 2001 was also highly regarded). 89 points from Parker for the digital palate people. 14.5%
Just when we thought we were completo…Carlitos pulls out a surprise…
grgich viloletta 2002.jpg2002 Grgich Hills Violetta $50: A delicious dessert wine from Mike Grgich. This is beautiful. Properly chlled it is like a nectar, an ice cream topping without the ice cream. Figs, dates, tangerine, marzipan. Full bodied and rich. I imagined I was in a Bedouin tent being treated like an honored guest. Multi-layered flavors…first the grape, then the fruit flavors, then candy sweetness like cotton candy. I have only detected the cotton candy in a 1983 Mosel Riesling from . This is a blend of botrytis-affected Riesling and Chardonnay. Wine of the evening. 14.2%

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