by Andrew Chalk
It is ironic that a series whose attraction is it’s exploitation of the ‘cleavages within the English class system’ should produce a wine that is so existentially flat-chested. This the first time that I can remember a film or TV series co-branding with a wine rather than, say, ‘Downton Abbey Happy Meal’ at McDonald’s, or the like. Unfortunately, the monetarily incentivised producers have chosen a simple uninteresting industrial level red wine, the 2012 Downton Abbey ‘Claret’ Bordeaux as their go-to-market proposition. The white equivalent, 2012 Downton Abbey Blanc, Bordeaux is even worse, except that you can chill it to conceal its flaws.
The red smells of green pepper. The positive there is that it does, at least, contain Cabernet Sauvignon, one of Bordeaux’s signature varietals. The coop, or other industrial producer, that made it, just did not let the grapes get ripe. Quelle domage. Failed winemaking 101. In the mouth, the message is linear, one-dimensional, simplicity. Insipid fruit, and a short finish.
The white should be Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon (the back label claims that it is “Made in a classic Bordeaux style”). Instead, no grape blend appears on the label. No surprise. I think there is some Sauvignon Blanc in this wine, but I suspect that there are also some lesser grapes, or just hopelessly over-cropped Sauvignon Blanc. This wine comes from imprecise roots in the Entre Deux-Mers, an area of Bordeaux that is so significant that it does not warrant its own Wikipedia entry. The nose smells like a day old tapped stainless steel beer keg. The bottle I tried was even slightly corked. The taste is of an anonymous blend of underripe grapes, compost and wet cardboard. And I’ll swear I smelled the sneakers that I left in France in 2010. It has a (mercifully) short finish.
Sure, these wines are from one of the most prestigious wine producing areas in the world, but it pays to remember that the French region of Bordeaux makes more wine than the whole of Germany put together, so there is plenty of potential for merde amongst the grand vins. That is what we have here. Two of the worst Bordeaux that I have tasted in a long time.
Both these wines are $15. They may be worth $5. Serve them with parolees, people you don’t have time for, prison cell mates, or fat-headed acquaintances who wear Rolex’s, know nothing, and have no desire to burden their heads with any more information.
These awful monstrosities are being flogged by Sigel’s, who have been based in Dallas since before the date at which Downton Abbey is set in Yorkshire.