Tuesday, January 5, 2010

"They Got This Recession On" Wines, Part 6


Hopefully 2010 will bring us all much better financial positions.  That's where my heart is, but my head tells me not to start buying really expensive wines for the cellar just yet.  In fact, if it's getting darker just before your dawn, here's a pair of wines you could probably afford after just a few hours of hustling change.

Sutter Home Winery has a line of wines available at 7-11 stores - in the cooler - which are small but cheap.  The 187 ml pours come in plastic bottles with a screw cap.  They cost just under two bucks each with tax and CRV included.  If you have trouble with the metric system, 187 ml comes out to about 1/4 of a standard wine bottle.  That's either a generous restaurant pour or a stingy one at the Fuller household.

Sutter Home is a Napa Valley producer whose labels you must have seen at the supermarket.  They are one of those wineries which still produce a White Zinfandel.  This small-format line also includes a Chardonnay, a Pinot Grigio, a Merlot and a Cabernet.  We'll concern ourselves with the White Zin and the Merlot.

Sutter Home White Zinfandel 2008

This much-maligned wine offers a pinkish orange color, like a light salmon.  It looks rather nice in the glass.  There is raspberry and strawberry on the nose, which isn't too sweet smelling.  The palate does show some friendliness, but the cloying sweetness White Zin is infamous for is not present.  In fact, I would describe it as off-dry.  The 9.5% abv made me expect a much sweeter wine, but the grapes were harvested fairly early, sparing us from a sugar bomb.

The nose is probably more interesting than the palate, but not by much.  The wine's acidity is a tiny bit challenged, but it actually goes fairly well with a turkey sandwich.

I hesitate to offer up any categorical slams on White Zin.  If it weren't for its great popularity during the 1980s, many old Zinfandel vines in California might have been uprooted in favor of some more profitable grape.  As a big fan of  "old-vine Zinfandel, " I am personally glad so many people drank White Zin a few decades ago.  I hoist a glass of it from time to time as a salute to those who knew not what cause they served.

Sutter Home's White Zinfandel is a very uncomplicated wine.  It's not a bad wine, it's just not a very interesting one.  It'll do in a recession, though.

Sutter Home Winery Merlot 2008

I'll go ahead and tell you now, I was not expecting a whole lot from this wine.  I got a lot more than my two dollar's worth from it, though.

The Merlot pours up a fairly dark ruby color in the glass.  Perfumy scents of blackberry, blueberry and some cherry cola are not shy about leaping from the glass.  The taste shows a really smokey black cherry quality.  It's quite smooth, even immediately upon opening the bottle.  The wine does have an interesting flavor profile and really feels full in the mouth. It's actually quite satisfying.  I'd be surprised to see someone identify this correctly in a blind tasting.

The tannins are good and the finish is dry and lingering.  If I had only $2 to my name and absolutely had to have a nice glass of wine, Sutter Home Merlot would do just fine.  In fact, I just may keep it on the "buy" list once this recession is over!