I’ve had a odd relationship with wine clubs over a lot of years, mostly ending up with my cancelling each one in turn and not wanting to sign up again. To any club. Ever. But wine clubs seem to have matured over the past couple of decades, and I’ve read there is a renaissance in wine drinking of late with Millennial’s leading the way.
So, one inevitably caught my eye. Club W. I took a look and saw there is a more thorough kind of questionnaire to take these days: not just what styles of wine, but what I looked for in a wine, dryness, fruitiness and the like.
So, I gave in. I filled out the questionnaire, and was given my style of wine, according to my answers and thought—what the hell? Give it a whirl.
After hitting sign up (with credit card information or course), I felt a bit excited. Some one, really something that was programed by someone, was going to pick wines I’d probably not think of or be able to find. Cool. We all get stuck in ruts and so I waiting with anticipation for that first case.
It came. I work from home so was alone as I unboxed the wines and examined the tables. A few with those cartoony, clever labels I usually avoid, but a number with more serious looked ones: appellations and vintages with out some red-faced thing in a wheel barrow and a punny name.
Then came the tasting… Well, it seems this company aims at millennials, which given the headlines they are drinking lakes worth of wine, changing a slow, toward trend, make sense. Or at least people who like boozy Kool-Aide of any age. People who like clever labels and nothing but fruit. As if acidity and tannins were bad words, or poisons added to wine.
But it was only the first case; perhaps they got it wrong. I rated the wines as ick and hoped the algorithm got smarter.
Now, the wines did come with recipes, and information including grapes, region and style. But after the third case of toy wine, I bailed. Wife liked them even less than I did. Mind you, there were a few wines that were well balanced and a couple I liked, but 50% I did not like at all, another 20% were merely passable. Three out of 10 bottles (on average) good? Not good enough.
Back to old favorites and hunting down a few new tastes for a couple of years.
A Rut Remembers
But old habits found their way into our glasses at dinner. Fortunately a new company offered actual mini-bottles of wine to taste and rate. I splurged: software gets better all the time right? But I only went with the once every other month set up, just in case.
While the Tasting Room has delivered a few duds, most of their wine is solid. Perhaps not great or special, but in expensive per bottle and understands that wines have balance in addition to fruit. That there is more to wine that coping a buzz on boozed up soft drinks. A few of the wines I’ve liked enough to swap out other bottles just to get more of them.
Three of the club’s wines are below. Coronet Paso Robles Zinfandel, which I didn’t love, but wasn’t bad, but I might be temped to exchange. Or not. The Ca Roule? Beaujolais is a fun, easy going wine and I don’t mind seeing in when I open the box. The Trilus is a SHARP Cali Pinot Noir, which I have used to replace other wines with. I’ve never seen any of the three on any local wineshop’s shelves and do like getting them.
These others are gifts and recent scores from local wine shops.
In the end, if you can find a club that fits your palette, go for it. I still like picking most of my wines myself. Then at least I know I’m to blame, not a program. But good surprises are very welcome.
Wines of the Fortnight
A mature wine showing rather well: Brick color with a brown meniscus, a number of slow forming legs with fat drops. Roast red meats notes, earthy, with a hint of licorice, and a bit hot. Mellow attach will full on Scott up front—fades tannins—and that lack licorice returns with dark fruit notes moving into the super long finish; fine-grained tannins who up alongside the saliva enduring acidity. Serious wine: 4.5 of 5 🍷. #redwine#Barolo#Italy
Pleasant, big wine with straight forward power. Medium garnet with a hint of brick right next to the mostly clear meniscus. Big, rich nose, with wood and earthy notes and a dose of warm spice, and a touch of tobacco. Somewhat chameleon. The attack is assertive—acidity and fine tannins up front. It’s warm and mouth coating—with dark, brambly berries, and that spiciness—long finish: 3 of 5 🍷#RedWine#Zinfandel#PasoRobles 🇺🇸 — with Karina Gukasian-Hunt at Hunt William.
Ca Roule? Beaujolias 2016
An easy going, fun wine—simple, but precisely what it’s supposed to be—does the job. Light plum in the glass, clean meniscus—a couple of fat legs mixed with sheeting. Powdery, warm notes w/some faint red berry fruit. Medium body—full on acidity w/distinct dark fruit, and a fair finish—mostly acidity with over sour fruit, a faint, tongue tickle tannins: 3 of 5🍷 #redWine #beaujolais🇫🇷
Gruet Sauvage (Blanc de Blancs) N.V.
Very pale goldenrod, clear meniscus; several steady beads of fine bubbles after the modest head sinks. Biscuity with a suggestion of fresh cut peach. Dry—crisp attack, fine bubbles on the tongue, quite dry (“no dosage”), into a lively, prickly finish with some impressions of white fruit (pear) mid-palate: 3.5 of 5 🍷. #WhiteWine #Sparkling #NewMexico
Trilus California Pinot Noir 2017
Stellar Cali Pinot, especially for the price: Moderately clear with distinct browning on the meniscus; a number of long, slow legs all around the glass, with a touch of sheeting. Smokey, roast meat nose, with a suggestion of red berries and spices. The attack is smokey with acidity—medium body, fine tannins. That spiced, roast meat and smokiness goes all the way into the long, dry finish, where it meets a hint of cherry filled chocolate: 4.5 of 5 🍷.
Very pale golden rod—nearly clear, with many long legs around the glass. A bit of a reserved nose, giving up only hits of grapefruit, mostly on the pith side, as well as some earthy notes. ZIPPY! The attack is full on acid—saliva-inducing, wit citrus mid-palate, moving to red grapefruit in the dry, exceptionally long finish. Best with food, unless you like toe-curling acidity: 3 of 5 🍷 #whitewine #sauvingnonblanc #NewZealand