2018 Youngberg Hill Natasha Pinot Noir

  Don't worry wine snobs.  Not all great wines have corks.  The  2018 Youngberg Hill Natasha Pinot Noir is a screwtop but there is nothing screwy about this wine!  Blueberry compote, leather bound book, wet stone and barn dust are prevalent on the nose.  You really get lost in the aromas of this juice and we found our noses in the glass repeatedly!  Berry cobbler, mocha and ripe plum dance on the palate with a firm but not overbearing acidity.  Medium and memorable finish puts this wine in a "must buy" Oregon Pinot category.  It's quite lovely! ABV:  14.0% McMinnville, OR Production:  600 cases Suggested retail price:  $65.00 Drink The Bottles score:  92/100

NV Winking Owl Merlot

Why would you buy a bottle of wine for $2.49 you ask?  I honestly don't have an answer.  Curiosity probably got the best of me.  Flashbacks of "Two Buck Chuck" bounced around in my head as I passed this at Aldi several times yesterday.  But I like to keep an open mind and I'm always up to a challenge so I figured at this price, I'm really no worse for wear.  This bottle is less than a cup of coffee at most restaurants and I've spent far more money on less satisfying objects in my lifetime.  So, without further ado, I present the non-vintage Winking Owl Merlot.....

I should start by saying that I am generally perplexed by anyone who can put wine in a bottle for this price.  After all, sans juice, you still have the bottle, the cork, the label, the capsule, the outer packaging, the marketing, etc, etc to take into consideration of the total cost at checkout.  So when you remove those items from the cost of the bottle of wine, what do you have?  I would guess about $.38 worth of actual "product" in the bottle.  You can quickly realize that this wine is made in the thousands or tens of thousands of gallons.  Don't get me wrong here.  Mass producing wines is commonplace in the industry for larger companies and there are a fair number of higher quality wines that are birthed this way.  In fact, E&J Gallo (they're the wine behemoth that produces this label) started out generations ago as grape sellers and eventually as a bulk wine dealer).  This is right in their wheelhouse.   

I'm not going to lie.  I see this wine marketed to or appealing to the 40-something single woman, sipping away in her bathtub on a Saturday night as she listens to Yanni and swipes left or right on Tinder.   Too harsh?  Hell, she might even have a two-bottle night if she can indulge herself with a Fabio book and some chocolates.  I digress.....

The wine is a lovely medium red color and thin in appearance.  Subtle but typical Merlot aromas of raspberry and vanilla are most recognizable.  Is there a black cherry in there?  Perhaps with some time in the glass and vigorous swirling you can pull additional aromas.  In the mouth is a straight-forward, very fruity glass of what some might refer to as a table wine or maybe even a "free" wine at your cousin Lenny's wedding.  It's not memorable and the finish is almost non-existent.  For the back label to state that this is a medium bodied wine is, well.........inaccurate.   That's not to say that this wine is a complete dud.  It isn't.  It is a bottle of wine................for under.............$3.00.  Let that sink in.  I often refer to these types of wine as Midwestern wines, because in my experience, folks throughout the Midwest loooooooooooove their fruit bombs.

Again, it's not horrible.  It really isn't.   What I'll reiterate is that it is a cheap bottle of wine and you get what you pay for in most cases.  We have come a long way since the Charles Shaw plonk and this wine proves just that.  I'm not going to go out and buy a couple of cases, but I had fun tasting this.  And for the record, I paired it with some delicious steak tips.  When assigning a score, I have to look at the complete picture.  The marketing and affordability really add to the overall appeal and score here.  And if you're looking to buy this at your local wine store, you won't find it.  The Winking Owl label is available exclusively at Aldi.   And you can find some really amazing cheeses at Aldi to pair this wine with this Saturday night!

ABV:  12.0%


Suggested retail price:  $2.95

Drink The Bottles score:  80/100


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