Monday, December 17, 2012

My Worst Wines of 2012

I was lucky enough to try some absolutely stunning wines over the course of 2012, which I chronicled in this blog post. Writing about all the great Burgundies and New World syrahs I drank in 2012 got me thinking: What about the worst wines of 2012? I've had some really bad ones, so I went back into my tasting archive and pulled out the worst of the worst.

A lot of wines are terrible because of a specific "fault." The most well-known wine fault is cork taint (technically called 2,4,6-trichloroanisole or TCA), a compound that can seep into bottles through tainted cork or barrels, destroying all that is good in the wine and leaving behind aromas and flavors of moldy filth. Other faults, like volatile acidity and oxidization, are easy to identify if you know what to expect. I tasted my fair share of faulty wines this year, but I didn't score those wines, and they're not included in this report. As far as I can tell, these three wines didn't have a specific chemical or other flaw. They just plain sucked.

(A quick note on wine scores: It's generally accepted that a wine gets 50 points just for being fermented grape juice. When wines are as bad as the wines in this report, the point system, which is inherently flawed, becomes almost nonsensical. I use the 100-point scale because I guess I like throwing out terrible scores when a wine pisses me off.)

This sparkling Italian rose is a light salmon color. This wine smells like watermelon, stinky gym socks and rose water. The palate tastes bitter and offensive. Screw this wine. It tastes like crap, and the producer must be a loser. 60 points

2010 Tarara Winery Viognier Honah Lee (Virginia, Northern Region, Loudoun County)
Wow, I can't believe this wine got a "gold medal" in the Virginia Governor’s Cup. It's unbearable. Aromas of white grapes, oil and marmalade. The palate tastes bitter, like someone crushed grape seeds in with the fruit. However, the alcohol clocks in at 15.5%, making this taste like some bizarre cocktail gone wrong. Bitter fruit, overbearing alcohol, disgusting flavors. How someone could vote to give this wine a gold medal is beyond me. It's quite miraculous to taste a wine this bad that doesn't have a specific chemical flaw. It's like they set out to create the worst wine possible, and succeeded. 60 points

2010 Pago del Vicario Blanco de Tempranillo (Spain, Castilla-La Mancha, Vino de la Tierra de Castilla)
Straw, sauvignon blanc-like color. Crazy aromas of celery seed, green pepper, tobacco and cat vomit. Seriosly, as someone with two cats who puke on the floor regularly, I can tell you that this wine smells exactly like fresh cat barf. On the palate, this medium-bodied wine shows a bizarre combination of lemon zest, cucumber water and under-ripe cherries. It's all tainted by an overcooked broccoli flavor. The bitter finish reminds me of chewing on grape seeds. Very strange, and not likeable at all. This white wine is made from free-run tempranillo, a red grape, meaning the juice isn’t fermented on the skins. It’s a cool idea, and many winemakers pull it off, but not in this case. Friggin’ terrible. This is the worst non-"faulted" wine I've had all year. 51 points

So there you have it, my most hated wines of 2012. May the New Year bring no such wines to your palate.

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