It's a blog for winelovers. It's a blog for slackers. It's the lazy drinker's reference for cheap, high value wines. You know, the bargain wines you just don't know if you should take a chance on; maybe in the supermarket or drug store. If you want advice on grand cru, well, everyone knows where to get that: get yourself one of those slick, expensive mags. This is a blog, man; prices and spellings are the best we can do, but, don't hold us to 'em. Photos are under copyright.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Cameron Hughes rolls up his sleeves and scares up another winner. Taking advantage of the surplus of good wine in California, and in the rest of the wine producing world, Mr. Hughes buys up premium wines that otherwise would be clogging the storm drains of Northern California. This is wine sitting in storage because there's just more of it than can be bought up by 'slackers and 'slackettes. The wine makers don't want to lower their prices, 'cause they feel they'll lose the cachet they've spent years building up. They want to maintain the market for their labels. So, instead of spending precious resources (money) storing wine and insuring it, they sell it to Mr. Hughes at a much reduced price. He puts his label on it and sells it for the price it should go for, given the law of supply and demand. The wineries get rid of it and the attendant costs, Mr. Hughes gets nicely rewarded, and we, wine loving 'slackers that we are, get some bloody good wine at bargain prices. See the Wineslacker's previous posts on Cameron Hughes' Lot 15,16, and 17.

Now comes Lot 23, 2002 Meritage. And the Wineslacker is here to sing it's praise. Meritage is a made up term to describe a Bordeaux-style blend of reds. This wine is 75% Merlot, 14% Cabernet, a little Petite Verdot, a touch Malbec, a kiss of Cabernet Franc. And man, is it good. Who ever made this wine got it right. The bouquet is beautiful. Dried roses, spice and cedar. In the mouth it's intense dried fruit, spice and firm, but not overwhelming tannins. The finish is a long, pleasant, dry cigar box flavor. There is great balance in this wine. The fruit is intense, but without a touch of sugar. There is structure and balance from the very start. It's a pleasure just by itself. With its structure, it'll be interesting to see what a couple of more years might bring. But who's kidding who. The Wineslacker won't have any left to try.
Here's the best part. You can pick this little biscuit up at your local neighborhood Costco for just about $10. Oh, impossible, you think. Not. If you don't have a local neighborhood Costco, get it directly from the Hughes man himself, from his website. Just get some, before it be gone.

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Costco hits again. It's always a trip for the Wineslacker to visit Costco. Sometimes a bad trip. However, last Monday (Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday, Thanks Martin.) during an afternoon visit to pick up another bottle of that French floozie, La Chablisienne, we happened to (hell, can't resist) pick up an Italian rascal with a Costco rave planted above it. What could the 'slacker lose? $7.99 to be exact. Marchesi di Barolo's Maraia (Rascal) Barbera Monferrato. Well, they were effusive and we're cheap. Happily, they were telling it like it is, as we'd say in the 70's. Not a great bouquet, but that first mouthful; wow. Intense dried fruit. Pleasant finish, firm but balanced tannins... for the price, or actually for twice the price, a real bargain. Again, another really lovely Barbera. Simple, very pleasing, drinkable right now. Hearty, but not ball-buster at 13.5% alcohol. Buono!

Always a scene, wandering around Costco with the diverse population explosions; huge shopping baskets, mobs of kids, going from cheap leather couches to odd appliances to mounds of shirts or jeans or velvet jackets; then running into bright eyed, single, middle aged men, with little paper lists in their fists and reading glasses perched on their noses. In the middle of the wine section, drooling. Right there with the Wineslacker.

We have to say, in the last few weeks, we've learned to look at the wine industry in a new way, with more respect for the older producers, especially the Europeans, through the eyes of two very experienced winos and bloggers, whom we think our readers will enjoy also;
Eric Azimov on "The Pour" wine critic for the New York Times, and fiesty dancer, Alice Feiring, Wine and Travel columnist for Time Magazine. Check it out, dude.

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Monday, January 15, 2007

As the American media loves to do at this time of the year, it's falling all over itself announcing the best something of the year. The best movie, the best Country Western song, the best Hip-hop CD, the Playmate of the Year, The Quarterback of the Year, the best canned tomato sauce of the year... the Best 100 Wines of the Year (number one for Wine Spectator was the ever-popular Casanova Di Neri Brunello di Mantalcino Tenuta Nuova 2001 (huh? 2001?). Didn't get a taste of that one? Well, with less than 5,000 cases made, the Wineslacker is surprised that any made it out of Italy. Another thing, WS; if number one was a 97 score and practically unknown in the U.S., outside of NYC, and number three, Chateau Leoville Barton St. Julien 2003, a very well known Bordeaux (18,000 cases) was a 98 score, what's up with that? The 'slacker doesn't get it! Plus, Chateau Leoville Barton was only $5 more than number one. Both, we have to admit, were a somewhat civilized $70 and $75 dollars; which means that us ordinary working stiffs would not have to forgo the youngest child's college tuition to get a bottle, if we could find one.

OK, anyway... that's not the point of the rant here. The point is, the Wineslacker promised a wine of the year, but finds that he doesn't really believe in a wine of the year.

We mean, what's the criteria for a wine of the Year? Best red wine? Best white wine? Best dessert wine? Best fuit wine, other than grapes? Best wine not tasted by a major glossy wine magazine? Best wine under $100 a bottle? Best wine under $10 a bottle? (Now the 'slacker is interested!) OK, the point is getting belabored. It's just not relevant. There are a bunch of wines out there. The Wine Web website claims to connect to 16,000 wineries in France alone. No wonder there's a "wine lake" in Europe.

However, not to disappoint the multitude of Wineslacker's readers, we shall reminisce over some of the 'slacker's most pleasant wine experiences of 2006.

1. The 'slacker's eyes were opened to the real delights of a fine Bordeaux by the discovery of the now famous and never to be purchased again at $14, Chateau Gigault 2003 Premieres Cote de Blaye. Number 91 on the W.S. list of 100. It was snapped up by the wine rats at Bev-Mo before we could get back for more, but we were able to pick up a half case of a less sensational, still enjoyable for many of the same reasons, Chateau Segonzak, 2003 from the same region.
2. There was that bottle of 1989 Clos Pegase Hommage, Sonoma County Chardonnay, given up by son-in-law Greg (bless you) for Father's Day. Still golden, after 16 years of less than perfect storage. Otto Freundlich's abstract, Ghetto, 1936, was on the label.
3. Sophisticated dinner partner (Sherry) and the 'slacker enjoyed a 1997 vintage blanc de blanc (Knutsen Vineyard) and a 1991 Pinot from Oregon winemaker, Argyle, gathered up in a rush through the Willamette Valley after nephew Robin's wedding out on the McKenzie River. The hottest summer Oregon has seen in 75 years, the infamous summer of 2005.
4. That beautiful Reisling blend from Santa Barbara County, we enjoyed across the street from the Flatiron Building in NYC, at Tabla, high concept NY eatery, with our old friend, Kennedy, from the DeLoren days (yes, that DeLoren) the day before St. Patrick's day.
5. The $3.99 bottle of Hungarian wine, Woodsman's White, from Trader Joe, together with the huge dry-packed scollops from Henry's, cooked by sophisticated dinner companion, Sherry.
6. The discovery (by wine buddy Mark L.) of Mr. Overstock,
Cameron Hughes, and his price-buster wines from California and beyond. Delicious Lot 15 and sophisticated Lot 16 and ebullient Lot 17, yeah.
7. Fellow wine rat, Sam, passed along his discovery of the Bogle "Phantom" a zin blend that got the 'slacker all kinds of praise for bringing along the highlight of dinner. "My ideal wine!", enthused pal Rob H.
8. The surprise and delight at finding that beautiful Chablis at Costco, La Chablisienne, for a pitiful $16, a layered, long finishing, lovingly characterisitic French white.
9. The little dinner in Pasadena where Joanie D. brought the nameless (literally) red blend made by her cousin in Escondido.
10. Wine party discovery from wine rat Richard M. of Bob Lindquist's winery Qupe, and some of the most delicious Syrah the Wineslacker has tasted yet, available at a very affordable price. Four stars for value and quality!
11. And, who could forget, the capping of the year with our traditional black caviar, and the classic Champagne taste of Perrier-Jouet Brut NV for New Year's Eve.

And, finally, the gathering of all those yet untasted reds, whites and others, throughout the roller coaster year of 2006, put away to add their excitement or disappointment to 2007. To anticipation, my friends

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