A Wine Lover’s Weekly Guide To $10 Wine – Revisiting A Merlot From Veneto, Italy

When you review as many $10 wines as I have, I don’t know if I’m bragging or complaining, you sometimes end up reviewing the same one twice. And in doing so, I may break a promise. Italy, especially northern Italy, is not known for its low labor and land costs, so one may ask how can they do a Merlot for under $10, in fact under $8. The company was founded in 1935 and owns extensive vineyards on the shores of beautiful Lake Garda in Verona. Aside, I am no Shakespeare lover, but I can’t hear the word Verona without thinking of two gentlemen. The producer is known for Amarone, a special wine made only in this region, but at almost $40 you won’t find it reviewed in this column. The companion wine is Super Tuscan, a Bordeaux blend breaking traditional Italian wine regulations at a whopping eight times the price.

OUR WINE REVIEW POLICY All wines that we taste and review were purchased at the full retail price.

Wine Reviewed Cesari Merlot Delle Venezie 2011 12 % alcohol about $7.50.

Let’s start by quoting the marketing materials. “Tasting Note : Ruby/cherry colour; dark plum and blueberry aromas; light- to medium-bodied with a core of sweet, red berry flavours and a velvety finish. Serving Suggestion : Pasta with a mushroom sauce, veal or meat pizzas.” And now for my review.

At the first sips this wine was rather thin but offered good acidity and tannins. The initial meal started off with crunchy Wasabi coated peanuts, which imparted just a bit of character to the wine. And the plums came out of the woodwork. A barbecued chicken breast added tobacco and chocolate to my glass. Homemade roasted eggplant slices just brimming with garlic rounded the libation and I tasted some berries. Dessert was fruit juice candy that rendered the liquid quite blah.

The second meal centered on slowly cooked beef ribs. Our Italian friend handled the grease well and I noted well-balanced tannins and plums. The simultaneously cooked potatoes increased the drink’s acidity to the point that it became almost sour. I had the felling that the wine was stepping over the fruit. The adjoining carrots managed to modulate all that acidity. I added Yemeni green jalapeno sauce to the meat and the wine seemed to walk away in response.

The final meal began with matzo-ball soup, that was, perhaps in the interest of multiculturalism, perked up with Chinese chili sauce. At first the Merlot almost lost its fruit and its acidity but it did rebound. Wasabi-less, in other words virtually tasteless Japanese rice crackers rendered Red’s acidity almost sour. He did better with the main dish, spicy ground beef with peas and tomatoes. The libation responded with metallic, crisp acidity and a wisp of plums. The delicious homemade dessert was a blend of coconut, chia, and Majoul dates. In response our potential bargain’s acidity perked up and I found its oak tasty.

Final verdict. I don’t think I will be buying this wine again. And it definitely does not deserve a third review.

Levi Reiss authored or co-authored ten computer and Internet books, but prefers drinking fine wine with the right foods and people. He teaches computers at an Ontario French-language community college. His global wine website www.theworldwidewine.com features a weekly review of $10 wines. Visit his Italian travel website www.travelitalytravel.com

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