“My mouth gets puffy and my nose tightens like a crumply hose when I drink the Big Red Cabs. I won’t even consider buying a wine rated less than 90 points. I have Bowie’s Young Americans on my permanent playlist. It’s so rich and thick.”
Addiction to big red cabs is a palate killer. Once hooked you may never try anything else. You might believe there cannot possibly be any other wine with the kick and prestige of a 90+ point Napa Cab.
Then something like the following happens. A true story.
“What the heck is that?” said a tBoW naysayer as he pulled the cork on a 2006 Napa Meritage wine now available online below the original release price. “They sent it out at $99.99.” He was somewhat dismayed to see this notable Napa meritage blend priced at what he might pay for a 1TB backup drive on Tiger.com, or a high end Robert Graham shirt that found its way into Nordy Rack. But $99.99 was the offered price. Wine club members only.
What does it mean? The high end Cabernet market may be down BUT the high end snob appeal is b-a-c-k! Of course pricing is now “affordable.” Suppose the 100 points and $99.99 prices no longer make any sense and you are just ready to try something different… but not too different. Options are available.
The red wines we prefer have higher acidity and less fruitiness than plump luscious New World Cabs. Even Bordeaux reds [ed. Cali's Meritage blend] are showing muchmore fruit forward flavors in an attempt to win “P95+” scores. You might like to know certain Old World red wines share qualities that appeal to Big Cab drinkers; muscularity, seductive lush fruit, rich intense flavors. Just not in so many gobs and clots. Old World wines certainly work for white wines which appeal more readily to the “Chardonnay please” set. The tBoW tasting team has had a good run of French Chardonnays at very decent prices that has left us slack jawed and begging for more.
Here, then, are some red wines worth trying that are not from Burgundy. Here is our plan for titrating down all our Young Americans trying to dodge another sock in the jaw from afro-sheener Cabs.
2007 Viña Alberdi Reserva $23: This Alta Rioja red is 100% Tempranillo. It is medium weight and has a fruity flavor core. Like coating your mouth with velvet. It is actually a bit too rich for tBoW tastes but it is perfect for the Cabbers seeking a recovery medicine. Eno Fine Wine. This is the wine you want when you start your Cabernet rehab. 13%
2008 Olek Bondonio Barbaresco $58: A bit more pricey but still well below the $100 threshold for “premium” Napa fruit bombs. This is Nebbiolo at its finest. Very approachable. Think of it as a mountain Cab, a bit more rustic without the big tannins that come with coveted modern era Big Red Cabs from Spring Mountain and Stag Leap. Nebbiolo is often compared to heartier Burgundy because it is not a big bruising wine although it certainly has muscle like Floyd Mayweather. This particular bottle is earthy, easy to swallow, light to middle weight. The wine is unfiltered which suggests some of those familiar flavors in old school Napa mountain Cabs. A real beauty. The perfect wine to lead you out of the Valley. Like Mayweather, this is a champion. 13%
2010 Georges Dubouef Domaine de la Chaponne Morgon $15: This is the last of pseudo Cabs [ed. not eggs-zacklee, how about Bolgheri?]. You would never mistake this wine for a Cabernet but it could easily fit in the Big Red Cab rehab lineup. Pull the cork and BOOM the sweet doughy nose hits you right away. Can only mean one thing. Inoculated with industrial yeasts. Unnatural. Natural wine no-no. Wine is dark red that could pass for Cab except it is just a bit translucent unlike the opaque monsters. Flavors are tart cherries with tannins. This is what cru Beaujolais tastes like from the commune of Morgon that produces the most masculine of Beauj red wines. “Godfaddah may your first cru red be a masculine red.” And they take age like a BRC. Notes say tannic sole, strong fruit with cherries. Not the best from Morgon but it beats getting your tongue laundered. 13%
and one white wine…
2011 Clos du Moulins Aux Moines Aligoté $18: This white wine from one of our favorite Burg houses of the past 6 months. Aligoté is not Chardonnay. It is the “alt-chard” from Burgundy that is often included in sparkling wines. It is also found throughout Eastern Europe. Who knew? We have tasted enough Alogité to know it is less than Chardonnay. As Old World white wines go, after Chablis and white Burgs we lean more towards acidic Muscadet (Loire), Albarino (northern Spain) and even Arneis (Piemonte). In fact, Aligoté is more akin to Arneis. This is an instant of trying a wine based on our affection for the producer. Like they say on House of Lies “it’s all good.” 12%
Having mentioned the Showtime series which is in its 3rd season House of Lies…
In this HoL episode Jeannie faces off with her (since departed) boss in the ladies room. Female work relationships are portrayed to be as rough and tumble as the men. Boss lady slyly asks Jeannie if she has been entertaining any ideas to move to another firm. tBoW likes this series. Wine regularly consumed.