Yesterday it came to our attention that 7-Eleven planned to introduce their own wine brand, priced at a Thunderbird-like $3.99 a bottle--that's right, $3.99 for .75 of Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon in glass with a real artificial cork.
No screw-tops for wine this fancy.
They call their brand Yosemite Road, as it is cellared by the Yosemite Road Vineyards in Livermore, California--somewhere between San Jose and Modesto, in other words. But local 7-Elevens already stock a Modesto wine under the Barefoot label...and priced at a whopping $6.99.
So, two brands from the roughly the same part of California. Both priced under $10, which seems to be the Mendoza line of wines. How do they stack up?
Because Yosemite Road is not available to the anxiously waiting public until next week, someone from 7-Eleven dropped off a bottle each of their Chard and Cab, thus saving me $8, plus tax. I then trooped next door and bought a couple bottles of Barefoot for a blind comparison.
Two of my colleagues from the news department marked four glasses, writing Cab 1, Cab 2, Chard 1 and Chard 1 on a set of broad rimmed plastic cups (for authenticity). They then remarked the Chard glasses, 1 and 1. The third time they managed to get the Chard glasses labeled correctly, then they poured and called me in, stealing one of my pens as they left.
Chardonnay #`1 hardly creates anticipation, drawing aromas of apple and apple across the nose, perhaps underscored by pineapple. On the palate it presents washed out green apple with some lemon and a finish comparable to brush and lemongrass. It's light, watery, maybe even wimpy.
Chardonnay #2 is much better on the nose, with a more complex citrus backed by apricot--still simple, but more promising. The taste is rounded, with apple and some spice, as well as hints of wood. Not the easiest of easy drinking whites, but at least somewhat palatable.
So, the two Chards weren't all that far apart. But I'll declare #2 the winner and move on to the Cabs.
Cabernet #1 is interesting from the start. The scent of grapes and balsa hit your nose first, developing quickly into something akin to vanilla pod, with a background of exotic fruits. As an inexpensive sipping wine, it's not at all bad: chocolate and caramel give depth to the fruit, with toast and light tannins leading into the finish.
Cabernet #2 hits you with mascerated fruit, some sweet wood and a little pepper--a confusing aroma. The taste is even more off-putting, with dull fruit rolling onto a flicker of spice, quickly washed away by a harsh, almost quinine sensation. It's overly sweet, too, and wraps up in a slap of fruit juice. If it weren't for the 12 percent alcohol, you could use it for an evangelical communion.
Not hard to judge that. Cab #1 is decent for the price point. Cab #2 isn't worth giving away.
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Chardonnay #1: Yosemite Road
Chardonnay #2: Barefoot
Cabernet Sauvignon #1: Barefoot
Cabernet Sauvignon #2: Yosemite Sa...Sorry, Road
So, spend a few bucks more when shopping for wine at 7-Eleven and go for the Barefoot. As for Yosemite Road, well, what's the word?
Those who appreciate vintage advertising slogans will appreciate the meaning. Now I'm off to be really friendly and offer Wilonsky some wine.