© Copyright 1998 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.
But there's always hope, so when I found a variety of new, variously colored labels for different blends of grapes in the modest Southern French line called "Jaja de Jau" -- one of them a Cabernet/Merlot blend -- I couldn't resist giving it a try.
And just to keep myself honest, I made a game out of it by randomly selecting a low-end California Cabernet of similar price to put up against the Jaja in a "blind" tasting, evaluating the wines from identical glasses poured out of my sight so I wouldn't know which wine was which.
As it turned out, it wasn't hard to tell the wines apart. Neither showed any real Cabernet quality, but at least the Jaja was a pleasant drink.
Le Jaja de Jau 1996 Cabernet/60%-Merlot/40% Vin de Pays d'Oc ($6.49)
Mountain View Vintners 1995 Central Coast Cabernet Sauvignon ($6.49)
FOOD MATCH: Not served with dinner. However, with bites of sharp cheddar for evaluation, the Mountain View improved somewhat -- the cheese seemed to bring up its fruit, perhaps by masking the "off" flavors -- while the Jaja de Jau made a neutral match, perhaps coming up a bit thin when tasted with the cheese.
THE LESSON: Don't expect quality Cabernet for 6 bucks, and that goes double if it's from California.
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