Monday, June 14, 2010


Pancake Cellars Big Day White

If you are a fan of wine labels depicting funny cartoon images, cuddly pets or goofy lettering, then you and I do not share that particular sensibility.  The marketing ploy of labeling a wine with strong, identifiable imagery is understandable – it's a big wine world out there.  It's hard to make one product stand out in a crowded marketplace.  An eye-catching label is one way wine marketers hope to make their wines jump off the shelves and into your shopping basket.

I've never liked the feeling of being “worked,” and it makes me feel that way when I see a wine label decorated with a big cartoon grape stomping his way down a city street like a smiling, waving Godzilla.  The thread that ties this image to the concept described on the back label is so thin I can't even remember it now so that I can relate it to you.

Pancake Cellars Big Day White offers this ridiculous-looking label art as their way of being noticed.  The “pancake” reference goes unexplained, and for that I am grateful.

This wine is produced by Central Coast Wines Warehouse in Santa Maria, and is a blend of five different grapes: 27% Chardonnay, 24% Sauvignon Blanc, 24% Viognier, 21% Muscat Canelli and 4% Pinot Blanc.  Previous vintages have included a much heavier reliance on Sauvignon Blanc that in the 2009.  It's sold in Trader Joe's markets for a scant five dollars per bottle and holds a moderate 13.9% abv level.

Pancake Cellars is designated as being located in Santa Maria, and the wine is branded as being produced from Paso Robles fruit, so aside from the tacky labeling, things are looking good before I even crack open the bottle.

Once the bottle is open, the nose of the very pale golden wine easily gives up aromas of flowers and peach syrup.  The back label states that apples, cantaloupes, honeysuckle and lemongrass are also present, although I would only allow for the honeysuckle.

The taste is succulent and deceptively smooth at first sip.  The acidity comes along fairly late, but it does come.  There's not the sort of mineral quality I expected from a Paso Robles white wine, but a slight orange peel flavor peeks out in its place.  I'd call this wine “off-dry” and recommend it for fans of “summer sippers,” although to be honest it would probably pair fairly well with light salads and seafood.  I did try it with Denise's delicious lentil and roasted vegetable salad.  Sadly, the flavors were mostly buried by the robust nature of the food.  What did come through, though, was quite a nice match.

All in all, it's not a bad wine, but it doesn't strike me as a very serious wine.  It doesn't look like one on the shelf, either.

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