Greg Norman Limestone Coast Shiraz Cabernet 2001,$16
Just as the name says, a blend of shiraz and cabernet. Pepper and raw meat aromas. Tart and ungenerous in the mouth, and brutally tannic—like trying to eat your way through a sand trap.
Greg Norman Limestone Coast Shiraz 2002, $16
This is more like it. Black pepper, sweet cherries, and roasted meat flavors. Nicely restrained on the palate (particularly welcome in an Australian syrah), with good balance. A solid par.
Lys de Volan Condrieu 2003,$40
A viognier co-produced by Alain Paret and Gerard Depardieu. Ripe apricot aromas leap out of the glass. White truffle, almond, mineral, and spicy vanilla notes, as well. A pleasantly round and fleshy wine, with a nice bitter edge to the finish. A textbook Condrieu, and an excellent one.
Emeril's Classics Chardonnay 2003, $10
Smells like a typical California chardonnay, all buttery and tropical. Arrives in the mouth a little too sweet, then turns brutally acidic.
Emeril's Classics Cabernet Sauvignon 2001, $10
Surprisingly light in color and with a very herbal bouquet, which didn't augur well. Sure enough, the fruit was underripe, a problem compounded by the bracing tannins.
Elvis Blue Suede Chardonnay 2001, Jailhouse Red Merlot 2002, Blue Christmas Cabernet 2002, $10 for the chardonnay and the merlot, $17 for the cabernet
The thin, medicinal Jailhouse Red Merlot is bad enough to start a jailhouse riot. The cabernet is better, but not good. The chardonnay is too sweet, but that's not an uncommon problem in discount California chardonnays.
J. Garcia Cabernet Sauvignon 2001, $17
Smells mainly of blueberry sauce, with a hint of smokiness. A medium-bodied wine, with ripe, mellow fruit and modest, somewhat dry tannins. The wine could use a bit more concentration and harmony, but I've had a lot worse for a lot more from California.