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Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2010

Greatest Misses

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"You know, Mike -- by nature, you're a cynical bastard. But when you write about wine, you always find the good stuff. Have you ever run into a wine you didn't like?"

Actual quote from a recent conversation. And it's a good question. I mean, I'm usually pretty lucky with the wines I end up reviewing, but there are some I've bumped into that just…well…won't be on my list. I tend to spare you folks from reading about them -- but why not publish a cautionary tale once in awhile?

What follows are some wines I've run into during my explorations that didn't make the cut -- and that I wouldn't recommend…

Cline 2008 Viognier
-- I'm generally a fan of Cline wine. They're a good midline wine producer. Heck, I used a Cline in the installment where I talked about "wine sniffing." They generally make very decent wine at reasonable prices. I was excited about the Viognier, since the weather is cooling off a bit, and the weight of Viognier works well as we leave the heat. Also, I'm a sucker for a pretty-smelling wine. Unfortunately, things stopped there. The nose was slightly perfumey, like many Viogniers -- but not as strong as I'm used to. The body can only be described as "weak." It was like drinking fruity water, and the finish was the definition of what they call in WineSpeak, "flabby." Much better Viogniers are available.

Domaine Guindon 2008 Muscadet
-- A friend of mine recommended a muscadet not long ago, and I wondered why I hadn't made myself at least passingly familiar with the varietal. I bought one at the store, chilled it a bit, gave it a swig, and remembered why I'd not done so. When I first started learning about wine, I picked up a Kevin Zraly wine course book and worked my way through. One of the first stops was "The White Wines of France." In the Loire Valley region, they make wine from the muscadet grape. That's not to be confused with Muscat -- the grape used for any number of sweeter white & dessert wines. This grape yields a somewhat dry wine which allegedly pairs well with shrimp & shellfish. I remember not exactly finding it to my liking. I'd not bought another -- until this one. And I remembered immediately why I didn't much care for it. The nose of this wine smelled alkaline to me, almost metallic. The main taste of the wine is incredibly dry and quickly turns really tart. The finish of the wine left my tongue feeling like a carpet. In fairness, since then I found that muscadet is fabulous with oysters on the half-shell, but unless you've got some salty shellfish on the menu, you might want to look elsewhere.

Australian Riesling in General -- As anyone who knows me will tell you, I love me some Riesling. I enjoy this wine because: (a) It's food friendly. (b) It's affordable. (c) It's generally yummy. I've also read recently that Australia has been "very successful" at growing Riesling. If that's so, I haven't run into many. I've tried a couple recently -- Lindemans 2009 "Bin 75" Riesling and Rosemount Estates 2009 Riesling. Given, both are from large-scale producers. Both are semi-sweet and crisp, and you'll get some lemon and apple from each, but nothing to write home about. They're both pretty inexpensive, so if you're doing a dinner party and your guests aren't picky, they'll probably all like this. If they are picky, make sure you get some food and other wines in them before cracking this one. Seriously -- if any of you out there in VineLand have some suggestions for Aussie Riesling, please pass them along. I hate to write off an entire country's varietal, after all.

There you have it -- a few of the wines I'd think twice about. Feel free to disagree. If there are wines you expected to be something special (or at least decent) and ended up disappointing, share your stories. Think of it as group therapy.
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