I meant to review these two wines late last year, and then one thing after another happened, and then the holidays happened, and then here we are. The interesting angle is mainly the marketing concept (though the wines aren’t bad at all), and by now, the concept has presumably worked—or not—without any help from Blind Muscat.
The label created for this pair of wines is The Spanish Quarter, and the entries are a white blend of Chardonnay and Albariño and a red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo. The wines were put together by the Codorniu Group. a huge Spanish wine combine, big in the Cava business as well as in still wines, owner of California’s Artesa (formerly Codorniu Napa), etc. These folks have a lot of good juice to work with, in this case coming from the Costers del Segre region, an up-and-coming area inland from Barcelona in Spain’s northeast.
The overall marketing goal, of course, is to cash in on the growing popularity of Spanish wines in the US market—a trend, I must admit, I’m fond of. Step one is putting the name of the country in the brand—sort of like a Riesling called “Germany’s Best” or an oak-hued Chardonnay called “California Gold.” Step two, more intriguing, is offering blends of familiar, market-leading grapes—Cabernet and Chardonnay—with more exotic, unfamiliar, indigenous Spanish varieties—Tempranillo and Albariño. Let folks get used to the new grapes in an old, familiar setting, and you’re halfway there. And if you like cute web sites, they’ve got one.
Fortunately, the blends work just fine, and the wines are tasty—dry but not too dry and certainly not critter-wine sweet, lively with balanced acidity, plenty of interesting fruit flavors without being fruit-bomby, and just enough out of the ordinary to catch a casual drinker’s attention. I tried the wines out on a small-scale family reunion my wife had assembled, spread across three generations of wine drinkers. and the wines went down without protest. I asked people what they thought, and they said nice things, and found the inclusion of the less-familiar Spanish grapes a nice twist.
All this for a suggested retail of $10.99, which means that in real life, these are single-digit wines. Something we could all use more of as we sink into the miasma of economic decline. Affordable wine: Blind Muscat’s version of a stimulus package.
Price: Both $10.99 suggested retail. Alcohol: 13.5% for the Cab-Tempranillo, 13.25% for the Chard-Albariño. Points: Sí, Señor. Full disclosure: freebie samples.