WINTER HILL $10 WINE SHOWCASE
a scorecard for inexpensive wines
Château Du Bois Chantant No. 1 [ 8808 ]          
Bordeaux Supérieur [Garonne Right Bank]
Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon
France • 2014
Alcohol: 14%
Purchased: 05/06/2019 • Total Wine & More, Everett • $14.99
Score: ★★★
Brilliant ruby color, fruity aroma, scents of licorice, blueberries and mocha. Balanced and persistent. MN: Tannic and a little sour.
Château Bellevue No. 2 [ 8810 ]          
Bordeaux [Garonne Right Bank]
Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc
France • 2016
Alcohol: 13.5
Purchased: 05/06/2019 • Total Wine & More, Everett • $10.99
Score: ★★★
Deep purple with ruby reflection. Red and black fruits of strawberry and blueberry. Full bodied with a refreshing finish. MN: very dry, tanic, a little sour and slightly musty.
Ancient Roots No. 3 [ 8862 ]          
 
Red blend
California • 20XX
Alcohol: 13.5%
Purchased: 06/17/2019 • Total Wine & More, Everett • $6.49
Score: ★★
Dark cherry, layered with hints of mocha and vanilla. MN: Vintage not supplied on the label. Unpleasantly sweet and sour. Tastes of celery and caraway. Not so good.
Alamos No. 4 [ 8781 ]          
 
Malbec
Argentina • 2017
Alcohol: 13%
Purchased: 04/27/2019 • Total Wine & More, Everett • $6.97
Score: ★★
Flavors of dark cherry and blackberry. MN: Smells like celery. Tastes ok. Fair.
Dark Horse No. 5 [ 8782 ]          
 
Cabernet Sauvignon
California • 2017
Alcohol: 13.5%
Purchased: 04/27/2019 • Total Wine & More, Everett • $5.97
Score: ★★★
Flavors of blackberry, black cherry and a hint of spice with finish of dark chocolate espresso. MN: Very strong, tart, lemony apples, almost sour. Tannic, makes the backs of your bottom teeth feel gritty. Not bad though.
90 + Cellars No. 6 [ 8843 ]          
Lot 53
Cabernet Sauvignon
Mendoza, Argentina • 2017
Alcohol: 13.5%
Purchased: 05/30/2019 • Total Wine & More, Everett • $8.49
Score: ★★★
Aromatic black currant, cherry and cassis with a backdrop of tobacco, mocha and toasty oak. MN: Dry, berries, slightly acidic. Not bad.
Carson Ridge No. 7 [ 8818 ]          
Paso Robles
Cabernet Sauvignon
San Miguel, California • 2017
Alcohol: 13.5%
Purchased: 05/18/2019 • Total Wine & More, Everett • $10.99
Score: ★★★
Ripe berry aromas, medium tannins, touch of oak. MN: Standard, average. Not outstanding. Nice label.
Gnarly Head No. 8 [ 8848 ]          
 
Cabernet Sauvignon
Lodi, California • 2017
Alcohol: 13.5%
Purchased: 06/05/2019 • Rapid Liquors, Stoneham • $7.49
Score: ★★
Solid tannins and dark jammy fruit with black currant, dried cranberry, clove, toasted oak, and pepper. MN: Somewhat thin, not bold and lush like the 4-star entries in this group. A little sour and dry, not very fruity as described on the label. Not choclatey. Not great, but ok.
Ravens Wood No. 9 [ 8787 ]          
Vintners Blend
Zinfandel
California • 2016
Alcohol: 13.5%
Purchased: 04/29/2019 • Trader Joe's, Somerville • $7.99
Score: ★★
Spicy red raspberry, cherry and boysenberry. MN: Thin, vinegary, sour but fair.
Villa Cerrina No. 10 [ 8785 ]          
Montepulciano D'Abruzzo
Montepulciano red grapes
Italy • 2017
Alcohol: 13%
Purchased: 04/29/2019 • Trader Joe's, Somerville • $4.99
Score:
DOC Grown in Abruzzo Central Italy. Deep red fruit aroma and flavor. Trader Joe's exclusive. MN: thin, very bland. The "deep red fruit aroma and flavor" claim is not true. Won't buy again.
Black Mountain No. 11 [ 8850 ]          
Fat Cat
Cabernet Sauvignon
Napa, California • 2015
Alcohol: 12.5%
Purchased: 06/06/2019 • Trader Joe's, Somerville • $6.99
Score:
Black cherry, plum, anise and vanilla. MN: Very thin, hardly any aroma, bland and a little sour.
Apothic Dark No. 12 [ 8812 ]          
 
Red blend
California • 2016
Alcohol: 14%
Purchased: 05/06/2019 • Total Wine & More, Everett • $7.47
Score: ★★★
Dark fruit of blueberry and blackberry with opulent notes of coffee and dark chocolate. MN: Tastes like dark chocolate. I suspect a colorant is added to make it very dark. Stains your teeth black. Ultra cool bottle, label & cork.
Witching Hour No. 13 [ 8866 ]          
 
Red blend
California • 20XX
Alcohol: 13.5%
Purchased: 06/17/2019 • Total Wine & More, Everett • $7.49
Score: ★★★
Dark cherries and blueberries integrated with vanilla and mocha. MN: Vintage not specified on the label. A little hot and lemony, a hint of fruity sweetness.
Velvet Moon No. 14 [ 8871 ]          
 
Cabernet Sauvignon
California • 2017
Alcohol: 13.0%
Purchased: 06/18/2019 • Trader Joe's, Somerville • $5.99
Score:
No flavor descriptions on the label. MN: Very tannic and sour. Not good. Would not buy again.
Moon X No. 15 [ 8854 ]          
 
Cabernet Sauvignon
Napa, California • 2017
Alcohol: 13%
Purchased: 06/06/2019 • Trader Joe's, Somerville • $6.99
Score: ★★★
Intense dark flavors of blackberries, raspberry jam and exotic spices with a caramel toast. MN: Pleasantly sweet. My favorite from Trader Joe's.
Dark Horse No. 16 [ 8845 ]          
Double Down
Red Blend
California • 2017
Alcohol: 14.5%
Purchased: 05/30/2019 • Total Wine & More, Everett • $7.47
Score: ★★
Lush blackberry fruit, toasted oak and brown spice. MN: Too sweet. Slightly acidic, tastes like raisins and lemon.
Bogle No. 17 [ 8820 ]          
 
Merlot
Clarksburg, California • 2016
Alcohol: 14%
Purchased: 05/18/2019 • Total Wine & More, Everett • $7.47
Score: ★★★★
MN: Sweet, fruity, bright, chocolatey. Hint of cherries. Very Good.
Yellow Tail No. 18 [ 8788 ]          
The Casella Family
Merlot
Australia • 2018
Alcohol: 13.5%
Purchased: 04/27/2019 • Total Wine & More, Everett • $4.97
Score: ★★
Dark plums, raspberries and dark chocolate.
Apothic Red No. 19 [ 8786 ]          
Winemaker's Blend
Red blend
California • 2016
Alcohol: 13.5%
Purchased: 04/27/2019 • Total Wine & More, Everett • $7.47
Score: ★★★★
Zinfandel, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot blend. Dark red fruit, hints of vanilla and mocha. MN: Well balanced, sweet and lightly acidic. Lush & fruity but also lemony with hints of chocolate. Very good.
Ménage à Trois No. 20 [ 8816 ]          
Midnight
Dark Red Blend
California • 2017
Alcohol: 13.5%
Purchased: 05/18/2019 • Total Wine & More, Everett • $7.47
Score: ★★★
Black cherry and berry flavors with hints of mocha and spice. MN: Sweet and juicy.
Bend No. 21 [ 8819 ]          
 
Cabernet Sauvignon
Napa, California • 2017
Alcohol: 13.5%
Purchased: 05/18/2019 • Total Wine & More, Everett • $7.99
Score: ★★★
Initially peppery, hot, acidic, but mellows out after some time.
19 Crimes No. 22 [ 8783 ]          
 
Cabernet Sauvignon
Australia • 2017
Alcohol: 13.5%
Purchased: 04/27/2019 • Total Wine & More, Everett • $7.47
Score: ★★★★
Aside from appellation & vintage, label does not include any notes about the product. MN: Rich dark fruit, juicy with a hint of chocolate. Very good.
Robert Mondavi No. 23 [ 8864 ]          
Private Selection
Cabernet Sauvignon
California • 2017
Alcohol: 13.5%
Purchased: 06/17/2019 • Total Wine & More, Everett • $7.97
Score: ★★★
Smell: Red berry, spice. Taste: Cherry, blueberry, vanilla. MN: Tannic and a little sour, dry, acidic. Not fruity, but also not bad.
19 Crimes No. 24 [ 8858 ]          
The Uprising
Red Wine
Australia • 2018
Alcohol: 15.0%
Purchased: 06/12/2019 • Total Wine & More, Everett • $7.37
Score: ★★★
A new red wine aged for 30 days in rum barrels. Dark with jammy flavors and a smokey finish. MN: Initially sweet in the mouth, jammy, tasting like cherries but a little hot, sour and lemony on finish. Strong 15%. Pretty good.
Cocobon No. 25 [ 8784 ]          
 
Red blend
California • Vintage not specified
Alcohol: 13.5%
Purchased: 04/27/2019 • Total Wine & More, Everett • $6.79
Score: ★★★
Label does not specify blend varieties or vintage. Screw cap at TW&M, cork at TJ's (this year anyway). Dark cherry and vanilla. MN: pretty good.
Barbera D'Asti No. 26 [ 8791 ]          
Rosa dell'Olmo
Red Barbera grapes
Italy • 2017
Alcohol: 13%
Purchased: 04/29/2019 • Trader Joe's, Somerville • $5.99
Score:
Italian red wine made from the Barbera grape variety. DOCG status (quality assurance for Italian wines). Trader Joe's exclusive. MN: very sour and slightly musty. Not so good.
Apothic Crush No. 27 [ 8855 ]          
 
Smooth Red Blend
California • 2016
Alcohol: 14.0%
Purchased: 06/12/2019 • Total Wine & More, Everett • $7.97
Score: ★★★★
Red fruit flavors with notes of caramel and a velvety smooth mouthfeel. MN: Cherries, caramel and chocolate. Very good, perhaps the best of the Apothic varieties.
Ménage à Trois No. 28 [ 8778 ]          
Folie À Deux
Red blend of Zinfandel, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon
California • 2017
Alcohol: 13.5%
Purchased: 04/27/2019 • Total Wine & More, Everett • $7.47
Score: ★★★
Fresh, ripe, jamlike fruit. MN: Fruity, red cherries. Very rich and sweet — a little too sweet.
Crimson Thread No. 29 [ 8860 ]          
 
Red Blend
California • 20XX
Alcohol: 13.0%
Purchased: 06/12/2019 • Total Wine & More, Everett • $7.99
Score: ★★★
Vintage not specified on label. Aromas of dark cherry, blackberry and blueberry with hints of brown sugar spice and vanilla. MN: Not much aroma. Initially grapey, sweet and juicy in the mouth, but goes down hot and acidic. Mellows over time. Tasty.
Grifone No. 30 [ 8780 ]          
Profumato e Fruttato
Sangiovese red blend
Italy • 2017
Alcohol: 12.5%
Purchased: 04/29/2019 • Trader Joe's, Somerville • $4.99
Score: ★★
Sweet fruits with hints of spice. Pronounced Gree-fo-nay.
NOTE: I purchased the first two Bordeauxs to set what I thought would be the tasting standard on which to judge the rest. From this experience, I learned that these two Bordeauxs (each slightly more expensive than $10) are not necessarily superior to inexpensive Californians. The better California wines (in this group) had richer flavors than these two inexpensive "Old World" offerings. So I quickly learned that "price" is not necessarily an indicator of quality. According to nakedwines.com, the value of the liquid inside a $100 bottle of wine is about $20, and the value of the liquid inside a $35 bottle is also about $20. The higher prices result from fancy packaging, middle men, and marketing. Undoubtedly, these factors would also apply to wines in the under-ten-dollor price point.
★ Not good
★★ Fair
★★★ Good
★★★★ Very good
★★★★★ Excellent
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