OK, I couldn't resist - I just had to try the Julia, Cellier 22, NV, "product of USA" wine. I tried not to be biased based on the first two Julia wines I tried, but... anyway, here we go. On the nose - oh, oh - there's a faint, but definite, whiff of bubblegum. Smells fake. The palate is better than the nose. Light to medium bodied, candyish, on the sweet side. Almost cloying (for a supposedly dry red wine). Plum and boysenberry fruit, but a little on the stewed side (again!). No finish. Look, it's an "OK", drinkable $5 party wine, but oh so predictable (and forgettable). And a ripoff at $14. If you have some, put it in the fridge for half an hour, it makes it easier to chug.
On to better things. Citra is one of those bargain producers that actually make good entry level wine, year in year out. It's low end stuff is sold in liter bottles and was a screwcap before it became fashionable. But, if you only had $9 to spend, this was a go to wine. They've just released a higher end version of their Montepulciano d'Abruzzo here, so of course I hunted it down and tried it. It's a 2007 and goes under the moniker Palio. Nice artwork on the label. Good deep colour, floral notes and plums on the nose. Medium bodied, firm, very dry, puckering tannins. Needs food. Sour cherries, a little dirty earthiness. This is so Italian tasting. You want authenticity, a wine that shows some terroir? Look no further. Good wine, well made, a good price at $14.
The next wine I expected very little from - it looked like a generic California cheapo, but the guy in the shop recommended giving it a whirl...
The Benziger Family Winery, Syrah, North Coast, 2004 has a nice dark, almost opaque colour. They got good extraction on this one. Nice cedar and spice nose. Full bodied, supple, rich and bursting with ripe black fruit. Well integrated tannins. Judicious use of toasty oak. Straightforward delicious. Wow, a winner! and totally unexpected. Bargain at $19.
Cheers from the frozen north!!