A client has been touting this label to me for over a decade. They have huge piles in their cellar and speak glowingly of events and visits. Somehow, all these years, numerous visits to Paso, scores of festivals and events, I have managed to avoid it. It wasn’t intentional–just one of those things you file away for another day and that day finally came. [EDIT 26APR2020 Since this was written I now visit these wines at a near-annual rate. Nothing has changed.]
2010 Cabernet Sauvignon. Fairly dark purple-ruby out to thin pink edges. Easily one of the most oxidized wines I have ever held. There is no fruit, no herbaceousness, no nothing–only COMPLETELY maderized, flat, fruit-fly-ridden prune juice. Prune juice left out on the counter for a week. OK, so maybe there’s a tiny black-cherry spirit lingering behind a few folds of oak way back in there somewhere but you really just can not get past the bouquet. It is easily the most vulgar thing with a professional label I have ever had the misfortune of sticking my nose into. I’ve tasted wines from Home-Winemaker which very closely rivaled this… um… wine. Many times. I’ve tasted several wines from CORE which very closely rivaled this nuance. I have tasted a couple wines in Baja made with extremely rudimentary processes and by back-yard folks looking to get in on the ground floor of the wine revival down there which came close to being as bad as this cab. I’ve never even tasted Hippie-Wine as bad as this (this would be that very special cadre of brands in those very special stores on those very special shelves which are designed for very special people who have decided they are too special for Sulphites. This group DOES NOT include Ambyth Estate, however–a place which seems to be making the ‘sulfite-free’ argument a viable discussion with well-made wines). The wine in front of me doesn’t even deserve discussion. There are no redeeming qualities. I can not even begin to list the ways I could ‘tolerate’ this wine for fear they could be construed as positive points. Is this sulphite free? I’m guessing it is all natural… native yeast… maybe a little organic food… a not-so-stellar barrel programme… crusty, stained tanks and brown bungs amid a cloud of fruit flies. There’s no tannin and only a smattering of thin, chemically acid and the burn of alcohol. To even attempt to pull anything more out of this wine would be tying a ribbon on a hog. This bottle is absolutely beyond redemption.
NV Viognier. Labelled: “Bottled in 2014” This wine is better, although I am really curious what the fuck the winemaker was trying to create here. The rear label also reads: “For more information on this wine please visit our website” which, IF I were a real wine critic, I would do NOW and then I would perhaps more fully understand what the winemaker intended when he rammed a cork into this bottle. But that would take all the curiosity out of it. I am sure there is a perfectly good explanation on the website for exactly what is going on here. But until then: surmise, shall we? First of all: It’s brown. And somewhat viscous. That is not a horrible thing–by itself. This thing has had some serious skin contact. Maybe even a little dehydration? Reduction. I keep thinking ‘apres’. I’m not sure this thing’s even dry. I would not be a bit surprised if it were finished at .8 or 1.0, perhaps higher. It has a not-horribly-unpleasant grassy, buttery nose with a wallop of alcohol. I am almost feeling slighted in the ‘truth-in-advertising’ department. Labeling something like this plain old “VIOGNIER” just seems wrong, somehow. It needs a hipster name… a flashy label… we could call it ‘Compelling’ or ‘White Lightning’ or ‘Dirty Socks’ or ‘The Stuff We Cleaned Car Parts With’ and it would sell like hotcakes. Who knows–maybe it DOES sell like hotcakes. I know a couple fans. If they used native yeast on this one… well… something died somewhere because way too high alcohol to support complete fermentation. Is this a dessert wine? Because everybody’s just pounding it with fish like it was KJ chard and nodding and going on about how Viognier is such a peculiar grape and how THIS viognier is even better because it is not “thin and light” like most viogniers. Yeah, you read that right. Is this wine oxidized like its Cab-mate? Yes. Definitely. Is it oxidized to the point of undrinkability like its Cab-mate? No. I feel the alcohol and sugar has preserved it and I am also guessing the majority of fruit in it is 2012. Probably some sort of ‘solera’ system this Mr. Cuvier has goin on. Maybe he should let a few more fruit-flies in an give it some more character. This wine is not completely undrinkable but if it’s a Viognier it’s the worst one I have ever had and if it’s an off-dry wine it’s the worst one I have ever had. I have it on pretty good authority there is an actual winery and tasting room. Let’s go visit!
2010 LE CUVIER Cabernet Sauvignon Paso Robles 14.8
NV LE CUVIER Viognier Paso Robles 15.7