Tuesday, September 19, 2006

20 Bees 2005 Cabernet Merlot - $12.95

If you go to the LCBO website, the tasting note for this wine says “Price subject to change without notice” … and I thought to myself “there must be more to say about this wine”. Let’s start with the packaging … if animals are selling wine these days then 20 Bees is on the right track. The bottle is eye-catching, with yellow and black stripes on the Stelvin-sleeve and screw cap – the picture on the label is cute too. But unfortunately that’s where the impressiveness of this wine stops. The nose is non-descript, the taste is leather, oak and earth (and that’s because I’m searching for terms to describe it). It’s certainly drinkable, quaffable in large amounts even; but there’s nothing really grab you by the bottle (if you know what I mean) – there’s nothing there to make you stand up and take notice. The person I shared this wine with said “it reminds me of an inoffensive Italian table wine, you know the kind they serve in those mom and pop places. There’s no tannin. It’s smooth, easy drinking and … bland.”

Maybe I was too gung-ho about trying this wine from this Niagara-on-the-Lake based co-op: 19 growers and one chief winemaker (20 bees, get it?) got together to, quote, “make great tasting unpretentious wine at an unpretentious price”. Well, they succeeded at the price part, but at what cost? While the bottle is eye-catching, the wine lacks the depth and structure to really make it stand out. With all the pomp-and-circumstance, the media coverage and the years of experience of the people behind it that went into this brand, I just expected a little more from it. Do all these growers have a say in the outcome of the wine? And if they did, did too many bees dilute the honey? For now I will reserve too strong a judgment on this wine and let them find their voice, or taste, in the Ontario wine landscape. Let’s just say it’s a decent attempt for a first release, and cross our collective fingers that the 20 Bees figure it out better in 2006.

Does anyone else have an opinion on this wine? Did I miss something? Please let me know. Available at the LCBO.

1 comment:

Christine said...

You probably didn't miss anything. My boyfriend and I tried the 20 Bees Baco Noir last night (I know, not the same kind, but I'm going to comment anyway), and the taste was so offensive that it prompted me to look for reviews to see if this was consistent or if we just got a really bad batch. The wine single-handedly managed to make all other cheap wines I have ever tasted in my life amazing by comparison. It is the very first wine that I unable to force myself to finish. The taste reminded me of your standard home-made wine that friends are often trying to pawn off on you, only it was much worse. If you accidentally get this wine, open the bottle, and pour yourself a glass, I suggest that you get some cheese (we tried cheddar and that was ok) and eat a piece right before every single sip. Don't wait too long between eating the cheese and taking a sip. Drinking it with a rich meal helps too. My guess is eat anything that tastes stronger than the wine to help mask the taste. Carrots and hummus don't work. Just DON'T drink it by itself but preferably not at all. There are so many tolerable cheap wines out there to spend your few dollars on.