Red Bordeaux (or shall We be fancy Français about it and say Bordeaux Rouge) is the topic of our upcoming Swirl Smell Slurp Sunday Salon. This time around We’re asking our guests to bring a bottle of the Frenchy stuff, keeping the cost at $20 or under. (We provide everything else: meet-and-greet bubbly to start the afternoon off right, glassware, informative notes, a tasting notebook, and light snacks.)
It occurred to Us that We should try and find and drink a few Bordeaux before next weekend’s Salon, to whet our palate… and also to make sure that finding one under twenty bucks that doesn’t suck is possible. Turns out We had found one already. The blog is becoming a great reference for Us to keep track of what We tasted when and what We thought about it. (Beats all those misc. notebooks, cocktail napkins, and back of receipt reviews We used to try to keep track of.). Clicking the Bordeaux Reds category under Tasted brings up a very favorable review of an $8.99 Bordeaux We bought at the local corner liquor store. Oh, how we love Big Mac’s.
While we encourage our guests to go to their local, independent wine shop to buy wine, We found that a few of our guests at the last Salon were intimidated by wine shops. “No, no,” We told them, but the snobby reputation of wine, is just that, a reputation. But it is tough for some people to brush aside this perception. We’re doing our part to persuade such folks that this is simply not so. And if they encounter such a place, hell yeah, never go back and tell all your friends to do the same.
If there is not a local wine shop in our fellow Salon-er’s neighborhood or they simple decide to buy their wine the last minute, We recommend these shops that are on the way to SSS headquarters (depending on what direction they’re coming from) to purchase the day’s theme wine: DomaineLA, Silverlake Wine, City Sip, Palate, and Rosso Wine Shop. And if wine shops are really just not their thing, well, there is always Big Mac’s.
The place We do not recommend our friends stop at before the upcoming Salon to pick-up a red Bordeaux is our neighborhood Gelson’s. Here’s why: they only have one Bordeaux under $20 and it is very meh. Our review:
Montagne Saint-Emilion, Château Forlouis, 2006 (François Janouerx, $15.99)
She said: Deep garnet in color, cloudy/muddy/opaque. In the nose are barnyard and dirt aromas with a background of plums and misc. red fruit. Very sharp in the mouth. Tannins are ripe and very vocal: there is very little fruit or any other flavors to distinguish. Finish is sour. The wine may benefit from some oxidation. Tasted it immediately after popping the cork and an hour later, but there was little change. Perhaps leaving it open overnight (tomorrow’s breakfast wine?) will help dissipate the harshness. Would not consider the wine a bargain, even priced at $15.99, because it lacks fruit and balance.
He said: Well, actually He took a quick sip and said: “Gross.” And then He went back to His architecting. He’s too busy to write a real review, but the drawings He’s working on sure look good. She guesses His rating would be the same as Her’s (if He knows what’s good for Him).
All that and football too…we had a busy, productive Sunday. So much so we only got through the Chablis and Rhône chapters of Zraly’s Windows on the World Complete Wine Course: 2009 Edition (although we did mange to get through two bottles of wine.) I just bought us a bottle of cheap, er inexpensive Bordeaux at Big Mac’s to sip while reading the next chapter. And it’ll be our Big Mac Monday’s selection. If I don’t finish it off before He gets home.
Each Monday (well, nearly everyday, actually) We trek down the hill to a favorite neighborhood liquor store to buy a bottle or two. In our quest to learn about and taste wine that is accessible and inexpensive We’ve found Big Mac’s to be a great place to spend our money. (We’re also regulars at the many local wine shops in our neighborhoods–and you should be too.)
Here are our weekly tasting notes from a bottle purchased at Big Mac’s. Although We don’t do background checks, some facts about the wine can be useful, so We provide some notes at the end of our review. As usual, We follow a basic tasting method: swirl, smell, slurp…and savor.
We pick out bottles based on price and what We’re in the mood for. It was a hot afternoon–We went for something cool. (But it didn’t turn out to be that crisp.)
Simi, Sauvignon Blanc, Sonoma County, 2007 ($12.99)
She said: Very pale and translucent appearance with a tinge of green in the yellow. No golden hue here. In the nose a hint of oak, suggesting some tropical flavors. If just smelling the wine would not guess sauvignon blanc–maybe something more floral from South America? In the mouth the wine is clean and fresh with a silky texture. Flavors of pear and light citrus, also some nuttiness and sharpness that reminds me of a young Parmesan cheese. There is a long finish with some tropical notes. The wood detected in the nose is not overwhelming in the mouth, but does say hello. This is not a style I typically go for in the grape, but it is pleasant. Lychee? Pair with shellfish (obvs) and maybe a bright, young goat cheese.
He said: Very clear yellow gold in color. On the nose I am getting lemon and candy. Maybe lemon Sweet Tarts and a Lemon Drop cocktail, and a hint of honey. Very high acid throughout, I can feel it in my nose. Apricot in the finish. Drinks just fine alone, but would be good with fish. All in all, an OK wine, I think I need to drink it again because the notes I have are a little vague. Which leads to a point: take good notes no matter what you think you will remember.
Facts: The history of Simi is interesting (no, they didn’t pay us to say this–but please, please: send free samples). The winery started in the late 1800′s in San Francisco by an Italian family that had immigrated to the United States during the Gold Rush. They soon bought land and moved to Healdsburg in Sonoma County. The founder’s daughter, Isabel, saw the winery through prohibition and there was a succession of women winemakers–a rarity at the time. Simi survived prohibition, but it forced the winery to sell off most of its vineyards. In 1970 Isabel sold the winery but continued to work there, influencing its practices and marketing. In the early 80′s Simi was sold again, this time to the big guys: LVMH. During the conglomerate’s ownership the winery began to buy back the land it had been forced to sell during tough times. LVMH sold what was now a famous label for $50 million in the late ’90′s to biggest wine distributor in the world: Constellation Brands. Once again, like the past wines we’ve had from Big Mac’s, this is a big hitter in terms production, popularity, and…making money.
We have become so hooked on our local liquor store, Big Mac’s, that we have even become somewhat of experts on their wine selection. We were thrown a bit of a curve by the question about red wine; we don’t venture beyond the fridges much. Yet. It’s beginning to be red wine season.
The clerks at Big Mac’s are funny. We are 35 and 39 and we still get ID’d every time we go, which is every day. Also, any wine over $16.99, is greeted with a “Ah, that’s expensive!”