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24 Days of Wine - Part II: The Ides of Wine Month

Updated: Jan 8, 2023

The first 8 days of the Advent calendar were exciting, but it is time to buckle down and trudge through the brutal days of the Ides of December. With a keen eye and a tuned-in palate, we will explore wines 9 through 17 of Total Wine and More’s daily box of libations. Will my knee-high skiing penguin socks be knocked off by any of the wines? I guess you will need to read on to find out.

Day 9

Wine: 2021 Magic Box Chardonnay

Variety: Chardonnay

Country/Region: France/Vin de France

Review: The wine is light in color but has a slightly golden hue. The nose has a pleasant toasted quality that appears to be from the use of some new oak. There are also some fermentation characteristics that come through with a distinct autolytic quality. This leads me to believe that the wine has been aged in barrels and has some extended lees contact. On the palate there is a delicate minerality with some pear and green apple notes. There is not a ton of fruit here, but it seems balanced.

Conclusion: Buy, this is a balanced and interesting wine. If you can find this for under $20, pick up a bottle or two.

Day 10

Wine: 2020 Grand Sud Cabernet

Variety: Cabernet Sauvignon

Country/Region: France/Pays D’Oc

Review: This wine is a medium ruby color, which is pretty light for a Cabernet based wine. The nose is non-descript with very subtle red fruit notes. There is not much in terms of aromatics. The palate has mild tannins with a higher than expected acidity. This wine is one-noted on the palate, with an undefined red fruit component.

Conclusion: Pass, the acid saves this from being undrinkable because there is very little flavor, but I still would not buy a bottle.

Day 11

Wine: Compostelle Rosé

Variety: Unknown

Country/Region: France/Vin de France

Review: This wine has a beautiful salmon color that is very visually appealing. The nose has notes of cantaloupe melon and fresh white flowers. The wine is low alcohol at 11.5% with a mild but balanced acidity and creamy texture. The melon fruit carries over to the palate and it is unclear whether there is a low level of residual sugar or if the fruitiness is coming off as sweetness.

Conclusion: OK, I would drink a glass, and this would be nice on a warm summer day, but there are better rosés out there in the market.

Day 12

Wine: 2020 Rebelle

Variety: Unknown

Country/Region: France/Bordeaux

Review: The label is unapologetically nouveau with its colorful defacing of the classic Mona Lisa. The wine has a typical medium ruby color. There is a lot of fruit coming through on the nose with notes of fresh Italian plum and other nonspecific red fruit. The lack of vegetal qualities and earthiness leads me to believe that there is a lot of Merlot in the blend. On the palate there is a fresh acidity that pairs with more red fruit and mild, balanced tannins.

Conclusion: OK, a very serviceable wine. This is totally drinkable and depending on the price point (under $20), I would say buy if you want something to drink now and not age.

Day 13

Wine: 2021 Kiwi Cuveé Bin 68

Variety: Chardonnay

Country/Region: France/Vin de France

Review: The wine does not have age but shows premature signs of oxidation, namely with its golden color and oxidative notes on the nose. The nose is dominated by baked apple and pear qualities. The baked qualities carry to the palate, with a mild acidity that makes for a flat flavor profile. The texture is interesting in that it seems to have been aged in neutral barrels, rather than stainless steel. Aging in wood may also account for the higher than expected levels of oxidation.

Conclusion: Pass, maybe this was just a bad bottle. If not, there are some major flaws with this wine. The premature oxidation makes this unpleasant to drink.

Day 14

Wine: 2021 Undivided Pinot Noir

Variety: Pinot Noir

Country/Region: France/Vin de France

Review: The wine is a medium garnet color, which is typical for a cooler climate Pinot Noir. The nose has

notes of mushroom and forest floor that is layered with underripe red fruit. The underripe notes carry over to the palate and there is a balance of acid and green (unripe) tannin. This slightly bitter quality reminds me of a lower price point Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley in Oregon.

Conclusion: OK, there are some interesting aromas, and the wine is not flawed, however, there is nothing too interesting about this wine on the palate.

Day 15

Wine: 2021 Grand Sud Sauvignon

Variety: Sauvignon Blanc

Country/Region: France/Vin de France

Review: The wine has a pale lemon color with fresh notes of green apple and citrus on the nose. There also are undertones of flint, which makes me think of a classic Sancerre. The palate has a bright acidity that pairs well with the citrus notes that carry through from the nose. Based on the freshness and vibrancy of the nose and palate, this wine seems to be fermented and aged in stainless steel.

Conclusion: Buy, this is a solid expression of Sauvignon Blanc from the old world. This is a wine that would pair beautifully with white fish and shellfish.

Day 16

Wine: 2021 Magic Box Cabernet Sauvignon

Variety: Cabernet Sauvignon

Country/Region: France/Vin de France

Review: The wine has a lighter than expected medium ruby color. The nose is restrained with red and blue fruit components. This flavor profile carries over to the palate and pairs with a medium acid and medium tannin that comes off as chalky. There is no perception of new oak.

Conclusion: OK, the wine is simple and quaffable. There is nothing wrong with the wine but there is nothing special either. I would not expect this to improve with age so if you did buy a bottle, I would drink it now.

Day 17

Wine: 2021 Magic Box Sauvignon Blanc

Variety: Sauvignon Blanc

Country/Region: France/Vin de France

Review: The wine has a pale lemon color and is very aromatic on the nose with notes of ripe melon and papaya. There is also a grassy, herbal component. The palate is dry and has a bright acidity, and the flavors depart from what was showing on the nose to reveal fresh citrus fruits. Compared to the other Sauvignon Blancs from the Advent calendar, this is a riper version that is less like France and more reminiscent of New Zealand.

Conclusion: Buy, if you like the riper and more aromatic style of Sauvignon Blanc, this wine is for you.

The 9 wines tasted in this segment were quite interesting and delicious. Compared to the first segment, there were more wines that I would recommend buying a full bottle of and tasting with your friends and family. The shining star of the Advent Calendar is still the Pinot Grigio from Day 7. As we get through the home stretch in our final segment, we will see if any wine can usurp that top spot.

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