Folie a Deux Ménage a Trois White ($11.99) wine could win me over based on the name alone. This Frenchy-sounding marriage of Muscat, Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc actually hails from St. Helena, in Napa. It’s a very floral, exotic wine with lots of juicy fruit and no oak. Very appealing stuff. Ditto for Folie a Deux Ménage a Trois Red ($11.99), a Zinfandel, Merlot and Cabernet Franc blend brimming with ripe fruit and surprisingly complexity for the price.
Lulu B. Pinot Noir ($10.49) actually is French, made with grapes from select vineyards near Limoux on the western edge of the Languedoc region. I normally stand by the notion that there’s no such thing as good, cheap French Burgundy. But this, although not from Burgundy, is a good Pinot bang-for-the-buck with silky tannins and ripe cherry aromas and flavors. It will rock with grilled quail.
I was ambushed by Martini & Rossi Prosecco ($15) at a Food & Wine Classic seminar called “The Wines of Italy,” which turned out to be a sales pitch for M&R, courtesy of M&R sales “ambassador” Jimmy Cefalo. I wouldn’t quite call M&R Prosecco vile, but it is light, bland, fairly flat, and with odd grapefruit flavors that I’d normally associate with Sauvignon Blanc. Just say no.
OK, here’s one that really is vile. Herding Cats Chenin Blanc/Chardonnay ($10) has sour-apple and chalky flavors followed by a speedy finish. No need to linger with this one. Too bad it came so far, from South Africa, for so little. Use it to bathe the cat.
A lot of people will disagree with me, but I find Ramey Russian River Valley Chardonnay ($38) all but undrinkable. It’s a typical, over-the-top, bombshell California Chard in the worst way—with enough oak to build an armoire. On the other hand, the missus loved this wine, and she normally favors expensive French white Burgundies. So maybe I was just having a bad Chardonnay day.
I can’t decide which I liked more, Cono Sur Carmenere ($9) or Cono Sur Vision Sauvignon Blanc ($13). These wines are named for the “Southern Cone” of Chile, where Cono Sur is well-known for making premium South American Pinot Noir. Cono Sur’s cheap and tasty Carmenere has a soft, velvety texture but rich blackberry flavors, along with hints of cocoa and mocha. As for Cono Sur Vision Sauvignon Blanc, the only thing missing from this lip-smacking, bright, bracing, citrus-infused S-V is a big plate of oysters on the half-shell.
Sips: In conjunction with the 100 Deadliest Days on Utah roads campaign for safer driving, the Grand America’s Garden Café is implementing a designated driver program. On Friday and Saturday nights through Labor Day, the Garden Café will offer free nonalcoholic drinks to designated drivers. The 100 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day have proven to be the most deadly, averaging one fatal crash every day on Utah roads. GrandAmerica.com
Baxter’s American restaurant has expanded its summer wine list to include eight new American reds and eight new American whites. Says Baxter’s food and beverage manager Peter Burke, “I am inspired by unique blends of traditional American flavors similar to our cuisine and chose to add some to our growing wine list.” The new summer wine selections are from a wide array of California and Washington vineyards. BaxtersAmerican.com