I liked the 2009 Chateau Mayne-Guyon Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux a lot, in fact thought it one of the best values around in red wine. A quick note to let you know I liked the 2010 Chateau Mayne-Guyon, also available at Trader Joe's, even better. I drank it a few months ago, so you can take details with a grain of salt, but I'd say it's more elegant, less chunky and tarry, than the 2009, but still fairly full-bodied and quite flavorful. More emphasis on delicious berry fruit, a bit less on dark/minerally tastes, but still enough of the latter for complexity, enough tannin to avoid flabbiness and suggest ageability, and perhaps a bit better balanced than the 2009 as well. I'd guess this would be serious competition for much more expensive (and properly aged) Bordeaux---perhaps not 2nd classed growths but probably some of the better Crus Bourgeois---in a blind tasting. Another no-brainer for multiple bottle purchases at $8. If one has to rate, I guess I'd say 8/10 on a 10-point scale that goes to 11, corresponding to around 87-89 Parker points, and I'm probably being conservative here. On my last visit to TJ's there was a big empty spot with one or two bottles of this on the shelf, so perhaps the secret is out... I already got my stash of four or five bottles.
No, the Wine Roundup is not some event Trader Joe's sponsors out in its Wild West locations like Santa Fe, it's just me rounding up some empties I wanted to post about before chucking them.
Chateau Haut Sorillon, Bordeaux Supérieur, 2010. Tasty and medium bodied, not complex but fairly balanced and without any of the characteristics that can be offputting in inexpensive Bordeaux. Excellent with tomato and pasta salad and with bread and cheese (Manchego and Cambozola) while picnicking at St. John's College's Wednesday night Music on the Hill. Kind of the straight-ahead hard bop of wine...gets the job done in a satisfying but not ultra-flashy or revelatory way, like one of your more your basic Hank Mobley or Lee Morgan cuts. Very good value at 8 bucks. Lessay 8 points or so on my 10 point scale that goes to 11. 85 on a Parkeresque scale.
Looks like one NatashaZ93 is keeping far better track than I have time or capacity to, of the TJ value parade...here's her take on the Haut S.
Panilonco Carménère DOC Colchagua (Chile) 2011 Reserva. I liked the 2009. I like this too, maybe even better. Uncomplicated, good varietal flavor, good plush fruitiness and a bit of green tomatoey acidity (but not too much). Yup. This'll set you back all of 4 bucks. I'd say 7.5 points... 83 on a Parkerish scale.
Bois de Lamothe AOC Côtes de Duras 2010 Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon. Good stuff. Along the same lines as the Haut Sorillon (very Bordeaux like) but a bit more austere and rustic, and possibly a hint of something funky in the nose but not enough to be offputting. Good flavors of blackberry, a little vegetality to add complexity, maybe even a bit of tarriness. Another 4 buck wonder! If one must rate, I'd say the same as above... 7.5, or 83 Parkeresque points. No, not that Parker... this is more like early Jackie McLean.
I blended together the last glass or so worth of the Panilonco and the Lamothe after they'd been sitting in the fridge for close on a week...it made quite a good blend, possibly even better than each wine alone. Panilonco added lushness, the Lamothe restrained the Carménère's fruitiness a bit.
The 2009 Chateau Mayne-Guyon Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux is from one of the lesser Bordeaux areas on the right bank of the Gironde. For $8 at Trader Joe's, a very good deal. I can recall, back in the days when this appelation was Côtes de Blaye and Premieres Côtes de Blaye, it and Côtes de Bourg had a reputation as a good source of cheap Bordeaux often better than plain old Bordeaux and Bordeaux Supérieur. But the characteristics of the area, when incorporated into a lesser wine, were sometimes a bit offputting: dark, kind of gritty tannins, some vegetal (maybe green pepper) elements to the flavors, and some dark, unfocused elements to the flavor associated with the tannins that overpowered the fruitiness. Interestingly, this wine has these characteristics, but in a good way. The vegetality is very slight, just adding a note of complexity, the tannins are very noticeable and a bit coarse (seeming smoother with time in the glass, and also after a day in the fridge) but not out-of-contol-gritty, and the fruit flavors are quite rich, so they stand up well to the somewhat tarry, mineral elements. This could either be an excellent ager for about 5 years, or not. It's hard for me to know without experience aging these wines. The issue is whether the tannins smooth out and drop, and the fruit stays, and (in the best case) the tarry elements develop into something quite complex and exotic, or the tannins stay gritty, the wine dries out, and (worst case) the tarry elements develop into something strong but weird and annoying. It is very tasty now in any case. $8 at Trader Joe's is a really excellent deal. This seems to be a regular wine at TJ's; I think the 2009 may be exceptionally good, for this wine and for Bordeaux overall. This was much more interesting and balanced than most $8 wines produced in the US, and quite full-bodied. (Despite the word "balanced", no-one should get the idea that this is suave and velvety... this is fairly punchy, virile stuff.) I have had difficulty finding good minor Bordeaux in supermarkets around here... but TJ's seems to have a slew of them. This stands up quite well to cheese, even blue cheese. Excellent with TJ's "Le petit crême" hexagonal cheese from the Rhône-Alpes department of France, and their Italian Gorgonzola.
Point rating? Let's say 8 / 10, for exhibiting what I think is a clear expression of the Blaye terroir, while avoiding the pitfalls sometimes associated with it, and for being a darn tasty, full-bodied drink with plenty of dark berry and red berry fruit, a bit of almost dirty but tasty minerality and tarriness, and only slight hints of green pepper or maybe olive. I suppose I should maybe put this at 7.5 to leave some dynamic range... but you must remember, my 10 point scale is like the the one on a guitar amp... it goes to 11. For comparison, and so you don't just multiply by 10 and think of it as a Wine Advocate rating, if I were rating this on the Robert Parker 100 point scale, I think it would get about 86-87 given my experience with Parker-rated wines.