Showing posts with label Bronco. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bronco. Show all posts

Monday, April 28, 2014

Cheap Merlot As A Gift Wine

Gift wines are always appreciated at chez Now And Zin, even when they don’t bring allure, cachet or a hint of potential with them.  It is, truly, the thought that counts when it comes to gift wine.  That’s why there are so many Trader Joe’s locations.

The new neighbors brought over a bottle as a gift.  While it was a wonderful gesture, the wine demonstrated that either they don’t know much about wine, or they think I don’t.  It is the thought that counts, but I write about wine in this space, not good intentions.  So, after a hearty thanks to the neighbors, it’s time to swirl, sniff and sip a wine that hits right around the four dollar mark.

ForestVille Vineyards is one of the many tentacles of the Bronco Wine Company, the grape-stained conglomerate that seems to have a different label for every batch of grapes they harvest or buy.  Owner Fred Franzia is a wealthy man, thanks to his ability to make wines that are cheap and palatable.  He thinks a bottle of wine should never cost more than ten bucks, Chuck.  And most of his wines don’t cross that Mendoza line of perceived quality.

This one, under the ForestVille banner, blends Merlot, Petite Syrah and "mixed varietals" into a wine that hits 12.5%  abv on the alcohol meter.  I don't know if  "mixed varietals" indicates a field blend, inattention, an accident or grapes that were leftover in the crusher.  I was all ready to write that ForestVille Merlot's most distinguishing wine-like feature may be that it is bottled under natural cork.  I must admit, though, that it's actually not bad.  My wife thinks it's yummy.  She's right.  Still, Miles, from Sideways, would definitely not drink this f@#$%ing Merlot.

For those seeking out "cheap and palatable" wine, this hits the nail right on the head.  It falls into the vast chasm between "OK" and "good."  The fruit is full and ripe, but not complex.  The overdone oak effect really blunts the wine's value.  Acidity and tannic structure are both nice, however.  Although there are limitations here, the wine is actually a decent value considering that, at the price point, value is generally not a consideration.

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Sunday, August 22, 2010


Salmon Creek Merlot

Salmon Creek is one of the 60 or so labels under Fred Franzia’s Bronco Wine Company umbrella.  It would seem Franzia names the labels for his California company by randomly selecting two words: the first word is an adjective, food or animal; the second is a word describing a facet of nature.  In this manner, he would have arrived at names like Almond Creek, Silver Ridge, Foxbrook, Crane Lake, Black Mountain and, of course, Salmon Creek.

I’ve had Salmon Creek wines before, in restaurants.  They - and most of Franzia’s product - are usually the least expensive wines on the menu.  This Merlot was gifted to me by the M Resort Spa Casino in Las Vegas.  At a rock-bottom price of $5.25 on the internet - and they probably paid less - it’s not the kind of wine I would want to give as a gift.  I have noticed that Las Vegas casinos don’t typically give great bottles of wine as gifts to their customers.  Maybe if our gambling contributions were larger, the wife and I would be on the list for some Gallo!

Sorry about all that peering into the gift Bronco’s mouth.  Let’s taste some cheap wine!

The color is medium ruby red, and I can see right through it.  The nose of ripe cherries and blackberries with a chimney smoke presence is pleasant, if not very commanding.  The taste shows cherry, red plums and a clove note that comes at mid-palate and lingers on the finish.  The tannins are less than spectacular.  The wine is smooth, but not really food friendly due to lack of acidity.  There is a fake-candy sort of quality to this Merlot that does not appeal to me, but might be right up someone else's alley.  The alcohol content is only 12.5% abv.  The grapes, according to the label, are sourced in Sonoma County.

I can’t say this is a good wine, but it’s really not a bad wine, either.  That depends a lot on your point of view, though.  In much the same way that Budweiser beer is drinkable, but not something to get excited about, so this Salmon Creek Merlot is nothing to cause you to pen a letter to the folks back home.  If you are looking for a cheap red wine to chill down on a hot summer day, or use in making sangria, this will do nicely.  If you are looking for a wine that will impress at a dinner party, keep looking.  And look higher up on the shelf.

Sunday, July 4, 2010


Albertoni Chardonnay

Bargains aren't too hard to come by in the wine world these days. Most producers seem eager to move their product no matter what it takes.  Some producers were way ahead of the recession game, having branded themselves as "bargain wines" long ago.

With the Bronco Wine Company, Fred Franzia is one of those producers.  With a seemingly endless list of labels, Franzia has positioned himself as the mack daddy of cheap wine.  The pinnacle of his success in that effort is the notorious "Two-Buck Chuck," known on the bottle as Charles Shaw.  I tried a Charles Shaw wine once, and found it to be a decent drink with little else to recommend it.  Now I'm back at the Bronco trough for Albertoni Chardonnay.

On the label, there are references to Napa Valley and Sonoma County. I thought Franzia sourced his fruit from the Modesto area, though, so I suspect this may be a marketing ploy, if not an outright attempt at deception.  These days, though, what's the difference?  The wine is called "California Chardonnay" on the front label, so one can surmise it's probably from neither Napa nor Sonoma.

This wine has a 12.5% abv number and cost under $10.  Compared to some of the other Bronco offerings, this is positively top-shelf stuff at that price.

It's a very pale wine in the glass, with almost no color at all.   On the nose, pear juice meets vanilla, as the oak is fairly apparent.  The wood shows up even more on the palate.  A soft, buttery sheen rides over the pears - not to the extent of obliteration, but it's certainly not trying to stay out of the way.  If you like your Chardonnay to be a lean, mean, stainless machine, then this is not for you.  Fans of the big, oak-driven "California-style" wine will probably think it's just fine.