Cabernet Sauvignon

Non Alcoholic Wines Taste Test

In the spirit of trying out alternatives to that nightly glass of wine, I went in search of dealcoholised or non alcoholic wines at my local Fred Meyer.  There were two that I had heard of and researched online - Fre and Ariel.

Both stated on the label that they were under 0.5% alcohol, which was encouraging, and I couldn't wait to get home to open them up and be dazzled.  I tried the Fre wine first, since it was cheaper (about $6) and I knew less about it than Ariel.

Fre dealcoholised

Here's the description of Fre 2012 Red Blend on their website:

"Fre Red Blend offers a deep ruby color and ripe, black cherry scented aromas. Smooth and rich, it offers plenty of bright, grape, and cherry fruit with an intriguing smoky flavor. Fre Red Blend ends with a long, fruity, lingering finish. This alcohol removed wine is delightful on its own or paired with salmon, turkey, chicken and ham dishes, as well as pasta, pizza, and grilled meats."

Color wise they were spot on, but unfortunately that's where the similarities ended.  There was no long lingering finish, just a rather awkward bitter aftertaste, and the first mouthful was insipid, although there was a hint of cherry.  I cut my losses and went on to the bottle of Ariel, which was 50% more expensive at $9.  My hopes were high.

Ariel dealcoholised

Sadly those hopes were dashed when I poured my first (and last) glass of Ariel.  It was surprisingly similar to the Fre Red Blend, not pleasant to drink, watery, pruney, some cherry and a bitter finish.

Ariel's website describes this Cabernet Sauvignon wine as:

"Offering aromas of black currants, cherry, blueberries and chocolate, with soft tannins and a dry finish."

But it didn't cut it for me.  Turns out that alcohol in the wine is kind of an essential ingredient to making a wine that you would want to drink.  I'm sorry Fre and Ariel - I really wanted to like you, but you were just not anywhere close to being a good alternative.  I'll stick to coconut water on my wine nights off.


Caymus Vineyards 40th Anniversary Cabernet Sauvignon

Caymus

You'll either love it or hate it.  It is a polarising wine, which is surprising, given that it costs around $70 a bottle.  For that price you'd think you'd be buying something great.

Well many do, but many don't.  Spend 5 minutes on the Cellar Tracker reviews of this wine and you'll find plenty of fans and plenty of haters.

"The ladies like it."
"A hot sweet mess."
"Easy drinking and pleasant on the taste."
"Another overblown fruit bomb that was again too sweet, too rich, too cloying."

Personally I'm with the last reviewer - I did not like it one bit.  One glass of it left be wanting to rinse my mouth out with cold water and go brush my teeth.  It is so sweet that you could mistake it for dessert wine, so dark in color you could mistake it for Welch's grape juice.  Just not good, with or without food.

It's just under 15% alcohol as well so a couple of glasses of this prune juice will send your alcohol unit count skyrocketing.

I've tried plenty of Cabernet Sauvignon big Napa wines and this was the most disappointing yet. What a total waste money.

Update

OK maybe I was a little harsh.  I put this bottle of Caymus in the fridge overnight and tried it on day 2 and it had mellowed out.  A lot of the heat and sweetness I'd objected to had disappeared and it was much more drinkable.  I squeezed out a last glass on day 3 and it was even better.  I still wouldn't buy it again though.


Restaurant Wine Mark Up - Washington State Wines at Goodmans

Goodmans

I've had the pleasure of being back in my home town of London for a few days this week and last night went to dinner with some friends to Goodmans Restaurant in the City.  Goodmans is well regarded as a place for great steaks, great wine and a great atmosphere.  I'd been to their Covent Garden venue before and knew what to expect.  The food was very good and the wine list is extensive, but I was shocked to see the mark ups.

I pride myself on being able to pick a great value wine from any restaurant wine list, helped by my trusty Pocket Vintages guide, which I can casually refer to.  It helped me choose a 2010 Ribera del Duero Reserva for only 50GBP.  But I was more interested in the selection of wines from Washington State.  You don't often see Washington wines on London restaurant wine lists so I was pleasantly surprised.  What wasn't so pleasing were the prices.  Take a look at the chart above.

The Columbia Crest Cabernet Sauvignon is a $12 wine at retail - on the menu here for 45GBP.  And the Canoe Ridge Merlot from Chateau Ste. Michelle costs under $15 at retail.  That works out at a seven time mark up!

Do they think that Londoners won't know when they are paying over the odds because Washington Wines availability is a relatively recent phenomenon?  Or maybe London is bouncing back from the great recession and city boys on expense accounts just don't care anymore!

 


Sineann Abondance 2009

This thick red from Columbia Valley in Washington State really packs a punch at 14.8% alcohol. It's a mix of Cab, Zin, Cab Franc and Merlot and somehow it works.

Give it 30 mins to open up and you'll be pleasantly surprised. One of the interesting features of the bottle is that it has a glass stopper instead of a cork.

I put it in the fridge for a couple of days once opened and then finished it off on night three and it was totally fine.

Sineann Abondance 2009