Wine Talk

Snooth User: Really Big Al

Wine you would not drink again (given a choice)

Posted by Really Big Al, Jan 9, 2016.

Ok, new year and time for a new topic of discussion.  Just yesterday I opened this Pinot Noir from California that initially sounded promising.  First  - it was given to Sandra as a retirement gift so it was free.  Second - a Pinot Noir bottled in St. Helena CA, so it has to be decent, right? and Third - a nice looking label.  Well, this 2014 Meiomi Pinot Wine blend really sucks.  I mean it tastes like two-buck-Chuck, which is actually around four bucks now at Trader Joes, and this wine costs about $20.  

So here's the idea for this topic.  Save it for posting only those wines you definitely would never buy for yourself again because they really don't taste good.  I mean, these are wines you are likely to pour down the drain or perhaps relegate to cooking with as a last resort to salvage your investment.

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Reply by vin0vin0, Jan 9, 2016.

RBA, you've started this thread with about as controversial a wine as you possibly could. I see this Meomi pinot fly off the shelves in my local wine store and the Wagner Family just sold the name for $315M so there must be something to it. Personally, I've had a bottle or two in my time and if you are anticipating tasting Pinot Noir you'll be sorely disappointed since Malbec concentrate overpowers anything else that might be in the bottle.

My pick for my least favorite is the Greek Retsina. I was forewarned that it is an "acquired" taste. I don't have the time or patience to acquire a taste for this.

Reply by outthere, Jan 9, 2016.

Apothic Red

Cairdean Estate Chardonnay - I have 5 bottles in my cellar if you are interested.

Menage à Trois

Caymus 40th


Reply by Really Big Al, Jan 9, 2016.

OT - I totally agree with the Apothic Red and the Caymus 40th Anniversary wines.  I still see the Caymus listed on several high-end wine lists though.  One bottle was enough.  I do like their regular Cabernet Sauvignon bottles however.  Save one of those Cairdean Estate Chardonnay bottles for the next Secret Santa event.

V V - My pick for my least favorite is the Greek Retsina. I was forewarned that it is an "acquired" taste. I don't have the time or patience to acquire a taste for this. had me rolling on the floor.  I mean, I have the time and patience to develop a taste for something, but why go through all that hassle with so many nice wines available today?

Reply by dvogler, Jan 9, 2016.

The industrial wines are no-brainers for such a list.  My mind immediately went to expensive wines that woefully under-deliver.  I've had several BC wines that were verging on $100 and were not as good as some of the $19 ones I'm drinking now.  Of course, vintage is a big part of it.  California, I'd say I will not buy the Rodney Strong Alexander's Crown again.  It's pushing $100 here and I didn't find it worth the price.  It was good, after about two hours, but not as good as the Beringer Knight's Valley at a third the price.

Reply by Really Big Al, Jan 9, 2016.

Can I recommend that we post a picture of the bottle that we definitely would not drink again?  You can probably find a picture on the Internet if you didn't take one when you drank it (and who would take a picture of a wine you would rather forget....).  That Beringer Knight's Valley is a very good wine for the $20 price.  I'm not sure if I've drank the Rodney Strong Alexander's Crown though, but now I know I won't go looking for it.


Reply by MJET, Jan 9, 2016.

This is why wine is so fascinating! Everybody has a different palate! I've never had the Alexander Crown but I've had a few of the Brother's and Rockaway and they were both very good. Would I buy them again..... Maybe...... But I would not rule them out 100%. 

I also had two bottles of the Beringer Knight's Valley this past year and I was not overly impressed at $25-$30. 


Reply by EMark, Jan 9, 2016.

OK, I am going to chuckle over v v's nomination of Retsina and not because I disagree.  In another thread a few days ago he really trashed Muscadine.  Personally, if I had to choose between drinking a case of Muscadine and a single glass of Retsina, I would pick the Muscadine in a heartbeat.  That Retsina stuff is gross.


I know I've had the Strong Alexander's Crown, but the last one had to have been decades ago.  I really don't remember much about them.  It is certainly not on my "no drink" list, but for $70, which appears to be the street price for me, if I'm buying, there are too many other Cabs in roughly that price range I would pick before it.

You speak truth, Mjet.  Rest assured, someone will jump in here to tell me that I haven't had a "good" Retsina.  He may be right.  That's why we're here. 

Reply by Really Big Al, Jan 13, 2016.

I found another Pinot Noir that henceforth will be a bridge too far.  We had Sandra's folks over for dinner tonight (it's our usual Wednesday dinner with them but now we are having them over at our house a few times per month so Sandra can cook the meal) and I ran out of our earlier bottle of 1998 Cabernet Sauvignon.  Therefore I opened this 2013 Toschi Pinot Noir; unfortunately there is still one more in my wine rack.  It gets better with air too, but initially it tasted almost as bad as the Meiomi that started this topic.  I don't recommend this one, even though it's only nine bucks.


Reply by dmcker, Jan 13, 2016.

Have discussed retsina in the 'totally different' and other threads over the years. If you say you can't drink it, that's because you've only had one or two of the wrong wines in the wrong context. As several Greek friends have told me over the years, when you say 'no' to retsina, you're saying no to life.

Face it, retsina is where all our wine drinking behavior came from. Regardless of whether winemaking started in Georgia/Gruziya/Sakartvelo or wherever else way back then, it's the Phoenicians and the Greeks that spread its use 'worldwide'--at least around the Middle Sea to start with. And that pine resin stood in handy to help preserve the wine from oxidation and the like. Drink retsina and you're also drinking history.

I'd rather have to drink all the contents of a sunken ancient Greek trading ship full of retsina amphorae, than a bottle of Muscadine. So there!











Reply by dmcker, Jan 13, 2016.

OK, so I just posted a dozen images. Not necessarily of current bottles of wine but all relevant to the discussion:

1) 1300BCE Greek trading vessel most likely carrying wine

2) lots of wasted wine on the ocean floor

3) trading routes for the Phoenicians and Greeks as they spread wine culture

4) drinking cup showing Dionysus making it happen--Riedel, eat your heart out

5) serving amphora reminding drinker Dionysus was making it happen

6) shipping amphorae

7) those pesky old winemakers, the Seilenoi

8) Odysseus after too much retsina? Or was that the sirens?

9) re-engineered and -enacted Phoenician trading vessel

10) re-engineered and -enacted Greek trading vessel

11) they let anyone and his cousins get caught up in the ancient-amphorae searches--but then that guy has always had an unhealthy interest in the Black Sea and its environs

12) how I've personally preferred sailing the Eastern Med while enjoying more modern bottles of wine (including but not exclusively limited to multiple styles of retsina) from those countries abutting the Middle Sea...



And as for the content of those amphorae? Here's one report (and there are several others):

"Abstract The origins and spread of eastern Mediterranean civilizations 4000e2000 years ago constitute defining events in human development. Interregional connections across the sea played critical roles in building increasingly sophisticated economies and societies. Research of trade and exchange among these first centers has relied upon ancient societies’ archaeological artifacts. The most ubiquitous artifacts recovered from shipwreck sites are ceramic transport jars, amphoras. However, for archaeologists and historians determining the original contents of these containers has been problematic, aided only occasionally by physical evidence (e.g. olive pits, resins) found inside excavated jars. Here, we investigate whether modern DNA analyses can reveal original contents of amphoras containing no visible physical remains. Using chloroplast DNA markers and PCR we analyzed the walls of two amphoras recovered from a 2400 year-old shipwreck off the Greek island of Chios. Our results show that short (100 bp) ancient DNA fragments can be extracted from scrapings taken from amphoras’ interior walls. These DNA fragments identify the amphoras’ original contents. Our analyses indicate that one of the amphoras most likely contained olive oil and oregano, even though no physical traces of remains are visible inside the jar. The second amphora might have contained mastic resin; resins of various types were preservatives commonly added to ancient wine. Our analyses are the first to demonstrate that ancient DNA fragments can be extracted from the walls of amphoras recovered from underwater shipwreck sites. This opens a new field of molecular archaeology analyses, and provides a powerful tool for obtaining information about the agricultural production, contact networks, and economies of the early civilizations. 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved."

Reply by GregT, Jan 14, 2016.

Yeah but would you drink those again? With all the salt water?

Back to the OP - if it's wine you bought but wouldn't buy again, that's one thing. If it's wine you've tasted and would never buy, that's different.

But the OP says wines you would not DRINK again.

So I'm assuming that means anything you bought or that was poured for you.

Huge list. Just off the top - any of the Wagner wines. That includes the Caymus, Belle Glos, Mer Soleil, Meiomi, etc. Undrinkable.

Most CA and French Pinot Noir.

Most Long Island wines.

Lots of Bordeaux.

Lots of wine from Paso Robles.

Most of the various Gallo brands.

Reply by JonDerry, Jan 14, 2016.

Agreed on Wagner family wines, Paso Robles, CA Pinot, much of Bordeaux, and will take your advice on Long Island wines Greg.


Reply by dmcker, Jan 14, 2016.

"Yeah but would you drink those again? With all the salt water?"

Sure, if they were anything like recent mid-range-or-up retsina. Not the bottom levels. But they'd probably be pretty concentrated, and could well require thinning by water. Alternatively they could be an even longer-aged, better-vintage version of those northern seas finds of recent publicity and provide some unique drinking that even Sicily and Sardinia can't match. And that's assuming the seals held, so no salt water.

Yes on the blacklisting of Wagner now. Used to drink a fair amount of Caymus in the '80s and early '90s but stopped last decade. About the same time I stopped drinking Silver Oak, though I might occasionally still drink the latter if on someone else's dime, at least once per a couple of vintages to confirm the moratorium still need hold.

Agree with Greg on Long Island plonk, regardless of how hard New Yorkers try to like their backyard wines. At least 3/4 of what comes out of Paso Robles. No Gallo wines unless fooled blind or forced. Not-drink-at-all wines would be few in Burgundy. Still conducting ongoing research there. And if others are paying then will drink most Bordeaux, at least a glass, ditto on the research. Doesn't mean I'll like it, though. Absolutely will not drink more than 2/3 of CA pinot noir, and 99% of Chilean pinot. Most NZ pinots are more-or-less consumable, and some very more. However NZ sauvignon blanc can be assigned to the slag heap of history.

Etc., etc. This list could go on for hours, and that's before we get into too many individual labels. My no-buy-with-own-money list is very long. My no-drink-no-matter-who-pays list is shorter, but still probably too extensive.



Reply by GregT, Jan 14, 2016.

Good distinction. If someone else pours, I may drink a lot of stuff I wouldn't buy myself. I'm not talking about price either, just the quality of what's in the glass.

A lot of what comes out of Bordeaux is fine, but more isn't. Not the classified growths, but there are hundreds of producers who are putting things into bottles that should never be bottled, redolent of acetone and paint thinner. That's true all over I guess, so not to pick on the little guys, here are a couple.

Rottlan Torra Tirant from Priorat. Goes for somewhere near a hundred bucks and some bottles can seem like chemical solvents.

Renegade Wine Co - don't recall the exact label but they do a few reds in Washington. I stupidly purchased a few untasted. They were from Garagiste about three years ago and sounded OK although I didn't know them. It's exactly why you don't buy more than a single bottle without knowing the wine. Anyhow, I bought three and they were undrinkable. I ended up using them for marinade.

Al - that Meiomi has some following you know. Also, your assumption was wrong going in. "Bottled in St Helena" is more or less meaningless. That's in Napa. No way are they putting out a $20 wine that would come from any vineyards there. It was bottled at a custom crush place called The Ranch. The grapes are trucked in from everywhere else but Napa, because if they were from Napa they'd be really expensive and they'd probably be Cab. He leaves a lot of residual sugar in the wine and recently sold the company, which owns no vineyards and no winery, for over $300M. It's just a brand with a lot of relationships with farmers around California.

You touched on a controversial topic though. A lot of producers in Napa, like producers elsewhere, object to wines labeled as coming from a particular region if the grapes are not grown in that region. Fred Franzia was famous for that. He had brands called Napa Ridge, Rutherford Winery, etc., that used grapes from hundreds of miles away. Some brands were allowed to do that and when rules tightened, they were grandfathered in but in 2000 the law changed and it was mandated that if you label a wine with a geographical name, 75 percent of the grapes have to come from that region. Franzia, creator of Two Buck Chuck, had these other brands as well (he was one of the largest wine producers in the US) and his case went all the way to the US Supreme Court, which ruled against him. Had the case not been decided the way it was, that Meiomi may have been labeled as being from St. Helena, not just "bottled" in St. Helena. That particular one is iffy because the family obviously has land in Napa that created their reputation in the first place, and I don't think they're anywhere as cavalier as Franzia.

So be suspicious if a wine only says it was bottled somewhere and doesn't say it was made from grapes grown in the region or from the estate, etc.

And here's another I wouldn't happily drink and it's from Napa - Switchback Ridge. Sweet and syrupy. Highly rated by many critics.

Reply by EMark, Jan 14, 2016.

This is way off thread topic, but I just love to rebut GregT's comments. Also, I am going to take another opportuniity to brag on a favorite maker.

In discussing the Bottled in St. Helena Meiomi, Greg stated, "That's in Napa. No way are they putting out a $20 wine that would come from any vineyards there."

Last week in another thread Mjet posted positive tasting notes on the 2013 Buehler Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.  He'd bought it from an on-line source for $16.

The other day I posted that I bought that same wine at Total Wine for less than $20, and I also bought the 2013 Buehler "Estate" Cabernet Sauvignon for less than $30.

The mailing address for Buehler is located in St. Helena.  Dredging around their web site, I found a map and see that they are actually located east of Silverado Trail.

From the winemakers notes on their website, the 2013 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is made from "Cabernet Sauvignon grown on our 'Estate' hillside vineyards (30%) in conjunction with grapes from other, mature, high-quality, low-yielding Napa Valley vineyards located on the Valley floor."

Now, don't get me wrong.  Nobody is going to confuse Buehler CS with Myriad, or Outpost, or Bond, or any of a dozen others.  However, they do put out a quality product.

On surface, Greg, I am in agreement with you.  How the heck can they sell wine made from Napa Valley grapes for $20?  The first thing that I think of is that they have no debt.  From their website, I see that they are a "fourth generation" winery.  (This is pretty unusual and belies my theory that family owned businesses never survive the third generation.)  So, maybe all the mortgages are paid off.

Anyway, I wanted to give Buehler another plug.

Back to wines you would not drink.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Jan 14, 2016.

Here's the funny thing:  For just a minute, Napa Ridge Cab was made from grapes from Napa Valley.  So that added to the confusion.  Franzia sometimes bought up labels that had some history or a reputation.  (His company is called Bronco, because the Franzia name was bought by Coca Cola and sold to The Wine Group.  So there's lots of history and responsibility for bad wine coming from that family.)

There's tons of these custom crush facilities and anyone can use them.  There is a tendency to put them in locations that sound like wine growing regions, but that's also because there's demand for them there.  A lot of really good wines use custom crush facilities--Jemrose, Gracianna, AP Vin, Roar (used to)-- because building a winery with all that equipment that you are going to use very rarely is expensive.  Many wineries also do crushing and lots of other steps to defray their own costs.  Mauritson built in extra capacity at the beginning and did custom crush, although as the winery's business increases, they have to cut back on that.  The lesson is that the back label saying, so and so wine, Rutherford/Calistoga/Healdsburg/Sebastopol means nothing at all. "Bottled in" means nothing, produced in somewhere... all nothing. Only thing regulated is the use of the AVA on the front.  And I am willing to bet that every AVA has crappy vineyards planted with the wrong grapes.  I'd venture to say that most of the Napa Valley floor should be growing fruit trees or something other than grapes, but it can carry the AVA, or even a ritzy sub AVA.  That's why Beckstoffer can get so much more for grapes from his proven vineyards with well-known names. 

Astounding how many of those Bronco labels populate the shelves at Trader Joe's.  TJ's wine has dropped in quality dramatically over the years, but that's largely the function of the growth of the business.  When I was a kid, there were still literally a handful of stores, and they were more like a rack jobber than what they are now.  They'd buy wine from wineries that made good product but were cash strapped, like Yverdon (which went out of business and sold the winery and land to Terra Valentine, who added adjoining land to it--TV has now sold out, too).  Or someone would discontinue a wine (Grey Reisling from Mirassou or something like that rings a bell).  What they carried week to week was totally unpredictable.  Now they just have to keep the shelves full. Bronco makes it look like they have all kinds of variety with labels and AVAs from all over.  Lots of sound-alike names, too.  Red Car?  Red Truck?  Which is the good one?

Undrinkable wine?  I bought a Pinot once called Remarkable.  It was from the Santa Maria Valley, I think, but I bought it knowing it was a TWG product.  They bought a respectable winery and this was still produced by that winery.  It was pretty darn bad.  I've had Meiomi, and it was weird, but not undrinkable, I thought.  But I wouldn't have it again--I'd take a beer over it.  My wife bought something called Catalpa Creek that was worse than undrinkable.  We might not even have turned it into vinegar. 

Tensley Syrah is really bad, but it gets great marks from Parker.  Maybe all my bottles were off.  If JD still has the one he bought from me for his dad, I will buy it back and destroy it.  Coelho sold Dois Hermanos PN as a mystery wine from Garagiste and it was wretched.  Becky Wasserman bottled a Burgundy PN called La Belle Inconnue that K&L hyped the sh*t out of.  I bought four of them ($10 each) and they were wretched.  Boycotted K&L for a while as a result and still won't buy things that they hype except the occasional Kalinda--which I probably shouldn't go for, either. 

GregT, I think that Renegade was one of the Mystery Wines on Garagiste.  I know that it got the most harsh comments ever on WB.  It sounded vomitorious.

Which is why we should all follow your advice:  Don't buy more than a bottle (and a cheap one) without knowing the wine.  You have to stick your neck out sometimes, and you can lower your risk if you have a real, live merchant you can trust.  (Oftentimes, they will take back unopened bottles and even refund if you really hated something you bought on their recommendation.) 

Reply by Richard Foxall, Jan 14, 2016.

Correction, that was Dois Irmaos (Portugese for Two Brothers) and WTSO is offering some right now.  Just the memory of it is making me cringe.

Reply by Redagic, Jan 15, 2016.

Okay so after having read what everyone says about wine they would not drink and would pour right down the sink, I have a question. I know most people here would not drink Meiomi and say it has too much residual sugar. Is this due to the fact that you have refined your tastes after years of drinking wine or is it because of a prejudice towards the fact that they dont have a winery or vineyard ? Or is it this residual sugar thing ? Is it truly plonk because if it is I formally want to start a charity for myself. If you have a bottle of Meiomi that someone gave you and you hate to see a thing just go to waste; what with all that trucking in  , blending , bottling and labeling  and such, then you can ease your conscience and send it to me :) . I really like that plonk. I dont dine in restaurants with white tablecloths ( although I would if I could ) and I dont drive a fancy car (I really want a honda fit ) and most of you know I dont drink beyond my means, so I shall happily  be the queen of plonk. By the way, Apothic Dark would go down the sink for me. I tried it on a netflix night watching Jurrasic World . Bad movie with equally bad wine. Crap even I wouldnt drink. After drinking it my mouth looked like the vampires in " Only Lovers Left Alive ".

Reply by Really Big Al, Jan 15, 2016.

My problem is that I'm now used to drinking the mid-range wines, as in $50 to $100 retail.  I might not be able to detect complexities like most other folks here (including my wife), but I do get the overall mouth feel from a nice wine.  It's rare for me nowadays to enjoy a wine under $10.  Sometimes I find a nice one that is under $20.  I try to stay away from wines in the $100 to $200 range simply because I can't appreciate them for what they are, given my limited palate.  

With regard to the Meiomi Pinot Noir, it tastes nothing like the fine Pinot Noir bottles I've had from Willamette Valley (Oregon), Anderson Valley (California) or even Burgundy (France).  I don't like sweet wines for the most part, although a dessert wine is a different matter.  That Toschi Pinot Noir was another one that didn't taste like a real Pinot to me.

Reply by dvogler, Jan 15, 2016.


I don't think anybody is bashing Meiomi.  The two problems with it are that it's a wolf in sheep's clothing and that it's a little too sweet for those who love dry reds.  Okay and thirdly it's an industrial wine.  The important thing is that you and GreaseMky (and his wife) are trying wines and enjoying some.  It doesn't matter what they are.  There is no rank or hierarchy among wine lovers (some may like to pretend there is).  We're just people from all walks of life enjoying what is an evolving drink that's been around for a very long time.  Some have the luxury to experience lots of fine wine and some are lucky to have an inexpensive, lower quality wine periodically.  I think Al's intent with this thread wasn't to bash, but rather just glean some examples of disappointment.  For me, it's paying more for something that doesn't deliver.  I'm not going to complain about a $12 wine under-achieving!  Anyway,  I hope someone sends you some Meiomi :)

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