Friday, June 12, 2009

2007 Chariot Gypsy Jim Neal (California)

Picked this up at Trader Joes for $4.99. Jason really likes this wine. As much as I want to hate on California, it's pretty great for 5$. A couple of caveats though. First, I think that while it's good in a modern fruit-bomb style, it's really missing some depth that you're going to get out of less ripe/extracted wines. Nothing wrong with this wine, but it's missing depth. Second, it comes off as fairly sweet, and although I like it, I kind of think that it's like Coca-Cola. This wine has got to be almost all Zinfandel due to the spicy melange of cloves, pepper, and other spices that are on the nose upfront. After a bit, there are also bright red cherries, maybe a bit of strawberry, and vanilla. This wine is thick and viscous (what else would you expect from California), with a rounded mouth feel. After being open for a day, it picks up some raspberry and chocolate notes as well. The alcohol is left in check at 13.7%, which is nice. Kind of scary that 13.7% is low alcohol for a California wine... Overall, this wine is an awesome value if you like the fruit forward style. It's got a lot of flavor, and would be a great thing to serve to a bunch of your friends that don't know anything about wine or who are into the "soda-pop" style of wine. There are definitely wines that I like more that are only slightly more expensive that I would rather drink, and for me there is something that's missing from it, but I'm finding it hard to diss this wine at 5$. If it was $20+ (which would be more typical for California), it would be a different story. A (for sheer value)

Had a second bottle of this 6/20/09; this bottle definitely had a lot of similar characteristics to the above, but added a lot of chocolatey notes.


jason said...

Great post Jeff! My experience with the '05 was tremendous. As for the '07 I find a lot of what you say to be quite accurate. Certainly a lively, fruity, juicy effort that at this point lacks depth. I noticed on the case I bought it was bottled mid April so perhaps something will appear as it settles further. That said I am more banking on "what you see is what you get" and that would be an easy drinking, summer BBQ wine. I'll be posting my own review soon. BTW, you weren't to far off on picking the Zin as dominant. Here is the blend percentage:

37% Cabernet
33% Zinfandel
10% Pitite Sirah
10% Syrah
10% Sangoviese

Jeff said...

Too bad that I never got to try the '05...still, I think the '07 makes a great cheap BBQ wine, or like I said, something that's likely to please a lot of people but not break the bank. I don't know that it will really develop too much more, but I did throw a couple bottles in the cellar which I'll leave alone for at least 6 months. We'll see...

mike said...

"Overall, this wine is an awesome value if you like the fruit forward style. It's got a lot of flavor, and would be a great thing to serve to a bunch of your friends that don't know anything about wine."
Kind of harsh, huh?

Jeff said...

@mike: Harsh? I don't think so at all. Humans are programmed to like sweet fruity things. Hence the proliferation of California wine, Aussie wine, and the fruit-forward style. Your beer drinking buddy or Grandma isn't going to enjoy a Cab Franc from the Loire or a subtle white. But you can feed them this (which isn't too far from Coke), and they're going to be happy people. And you'll be hapy too, because it's a. cheap, and b. it actually tastes good. If you're way into wine, this wouldn't be your first choice. There are a lot of better options that are only marginally more expensive. But this won't offend anyone.

Young Winos said...

I have to disagree with several comments above, particularly those which suggest that this wine "lacks depth," and "tastes like Coke," or that there are significantly better wines for only "marginally more expensive."

In my searches, I've yet to find any fruit-forward California wine in the $5 range with this degree of complexity and depth. No, it's not nuanced, nor does it show any terroir. But as far as rich juicy opulence goes, it totally blows away most competitors in its price range, from the Woodbridges to the Blackstones to the Beringers.

My friends and I found this a well-crafted and thoroughly delicious wine, one that develops significantly in the glass, eventually revealing notes of cedar, devil's food cake, and white pepper. Read more here:

And if you know where we can find some more, please leave a comment!

Jeff said...

Thanks for the comment Young Wino's...I have pondered joining your group--it's seems really cool--it's just that I got the impression that a lot of the tastings take place in the Hollywood area on weeknights, which is a pain to get to from the beach. Shoot me an email if you're going to have anything in the Manhattan Beach area and I'll come for sure.

I don't know where you can buy the Chariot anymore--I think it's sold out all over the place. I didn't see it in Trader Joes this morning, either. I have one bottle left at my place. If you'd like it, you can have it.

Having had lots of cheap California wine, I agree with you that this blows them out of the water. However, I think there are some affordable options that are only a dollar more that I would much rather drink. The 07 Perrin Cotes du Rhone is the first that comes to mind, but that's my taste, not yours. I am comparing it in a different context than you are...and if you are a fan of California, you will like this wine.