In the quest for good, affordable wines, it's sometimes necessary to remember that not all cheap wines are good. Opening a couple of low-end reds in recent days, we found one that was passable and one that wasn't very good at all.
Louis Jadot 1996 Beaujolais-Villages ($7.99)
I've always enjoyed Jadot's Beaujolais a bit more than those of his primary competitor, Georges Duboeuf, and the '96 is no exception. It's a dark garnet in color, with good red-fruit aromas and a light whiff of caramel. Juicy, grapey fruit flavor bespeaks Beaujolais, but it lacks the odd mix of strawberry cotton candy and red-wine vinegar that's the trademark of Duboeuf, making the Jadot something more of a wine-lover's Beaujolais. U.S. importer: Kobrand Corp., NYC. (March 9, 1998)
FOOD MATCH: A mild jambalaya-style rice in tomato sauce with ham and green peppers made a good match. I consistently find Beaujolais goes well with ham, which is not always an easy meat to match with wine.
Casal Thaulero 1996 "Orsetto" Montepulciano d'Abruzzo ($6.99)
I thought the 1994 vintage of this inexpensive Italian red was an outstanding value, so I was pleased to see the '96 on sale. Bad mistake. Dark ruby in color, its aroma is focused on spicy oak with black fruit in the background. Odd, almost intensely grapey fruit flavor at first, fades almost immediately to a dank, Sherry-like oxidized character, with lemon-tangy acidity in the finish. Not a very pleasant wine. U. S. importer: Palace Brands, Farmington, Conn. (March 8, 1998)
FOOD MATCH: Served with homemade anchovy pizza with lots of mozzarella, which went well enough for the first few minutes until the wine started falling apart.
All my wine-tasting reports are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores.||