Friday, March 27, 2009

Cafayate Valley

The second to last wine of the night that we tried, the 2006 Cafayate Valley Tannat was a great teaching device. A lot of the Brown Baggers did not understand what was meant by a chewy wine. After trying this wine made from Tannat grapes we all know. This deep purple red was a puckery, chewy beast. It seemed like something that British confectioners would take and turn into a wine jelly that they would sandwich between chocolate, biscuit and marshmallow.

It was definitely not a crowd pleaser. Although some gave it some props - my wife suggested that it could be served with a carne asada burrito and that the pairing might elevate the wine.

Now me saying that this was not a crowd pleaser does not mean I am unappreciative of the Brown Bagger who brought the wine. Hey, we have to try a range. And we're weeding through labels to find the gems. There's a lot of wines out there, and it's good to know what is a bargain and what ain't.

But I suppose that trashing a wine that someone has brought to a casual tasting like this could cause some hardships. If you do this with friends, please emphasize that judgements passed on a wine are not personal attacks.

Wine tastings like this should not be a competition. They're really just good excuses for people to get together and bullshit while at the same time discovering great wines to pursue and villainous wines to avoid.

Cafayate Valley get to work on your Tannat - it's a good enough grape just step up your game.

RATING: .5 screwcaps
LABEL: Cafayate Valley
GRAPE: Tannat
Price: $5.99


Gouguenheim was one of the real stand-out hits of the night. A spicy Malbec that Brown Bagger Mike Brand picked up at the Silver Lake Wine Store Gouguenheim was a real crowdpleaser. It was a Malbec whose spicy, peppery notes had rounded off some allowing some of the real darkfruit flavors to come out.

Again, like the other Malbecs, the Gouguenheim benefitted with food especially the dark chocolate which helped some of its subtleties out.

An interesting thing about this wine: its price. Brown Bagger Mike consistently picks up delicious wines for these events, and every time they cost 13 dollars with tax out the door. Mike goes in and talks to his friendly Silver Lake Wine store guy, says I need a delicious wine from "X" region for 12.99 or less. And guess what? He gets a wine for 12.99 - 13 bucks.

Now there is nothing wrong with this. Silver Lake Wine is a great wine shop with tons of bargains from wineries overlooked by the big buyers. In other words, it is a very well curated shop, but I doubt it will ever have anything for less than 10 bucks - which is the Brown Bag Holy Grail.

10 to 13 could very well just be a sweet spot for wines. With rising labor costs, fuel costs, and land costs, delicious wines under ten bucks might be a thing of the past like buggy whips and manual typewriters.

All that said Gouguenheim is a really satisfying wine and would be a great thing to bring to a friend's house who is cooking you dinner - especially when they're making red friendly foods. If you do pick up a bottle of it for such an occasion bring some dark chocolate or a blue cheese to help bring this wine's flavours out and show off what it can do.

We learned from our Argentina night that the Argentine wines benefit from a little pro-active wine drinking - ie., be smart what you pair it with.

RATING: 3 Screwcaps
LABEL: Gouguenheim
GRAPE: Malbec
PRICE: 12.99 - 13 bucks out the door at Silver Lake Wine