No. 1

Little Wine Shop2010 Clos La Coutale
Cahors, France

Week One. A Saturday evening–slightly before closing–my trusty roommate agreed to wander into the Little Wine Shop in Decatur, GA.

We walked into a space no larger than my living room and were met by a man skipping down the stairs.

About mid-skip and stair, he asked if I needed help.

Me: Well. I’m doing a little “project.” I know nothing about wine and after a flight home where I was forced to face myself for a bit, I decided it was time to learn.

Him: Laughing.

Me: I know. This is strange. But, I have some parameters. It has to be under and $20 and it has to have a high rating. (Rookie mistake #1).

Him: Hm. (Scoffing–yet still cordial) Points.  They don’t matter. See…

He proceeded to explain that (disclaimer: these are my words, not his) a guy named Robert Parker had created said points for losers like me who had previously invested in the idea that we could just find “good” wine using a number system and a pretentious older man’s manufactured critical taste. And because he rose to a place of such elitist wine snobbery–a cheap ass wine for $8 had the potential to become the next big thing at $80 within the next vintage (that’s wine talk for year).

Being the naturally intelligent beings they are, Vintners (that’s wine talk for the people who make wine and also sell it) caught on to this. Thereby selling their souls and their tastebuds to craft wine that would appease the palate of the self-made wine god Sir Robert Parker.

Eventually though, (lucky for us) the hipster and punk-rocking vintners decided to stick it the man and make their own damn wine, whether Robert Parker liked it or not. And priced it properly to boot.

This all goes to say, that I ended up with a bottle of wine imported by a guy named Kermit Lynch who–as the son of a non-wine drinking preacher family–imports wine, writes, and produces alternative albums with titles like “Donuts and Coffee” and “Kitty Fur.” I think I like him.

The bottle suggested to me by Little Wine Shop is not ranked higher than any other wine I might have naively pluck off the shelf for less than $20,  but I walked away satisfied that I was starting off on the right foot.  On top of that, the wine-guy at Little Wine shop made a small victory for those idiosyncratic nonconformist ragers against the egoists in the wine machine.  Bitches.

I was given a bottle of 2010 Clos La Coutale, which originates from a place in the south west of France called Cahors. In the wine world, you would say the appellation of the wine is Appellation d’origine Protégée. Apparently, it used to be called Appellation d’origine Contrôlée. But, a law was passed in 2009, that some vintners had to switch over to use the word Protégée instead. People were sort of pissed about this.  Anyway, that just means that where the hell they got their grapes from is a legitimate grape-growing place, according to the French government. So woohoo for Cahors.

Cahors is a really old region of France complete with a satanic bridge and an ancient reputation for producing some pretty magical grapes.

The bottle of Clos Las Coutale is made of 20% Merlot and 80% Malbec–both grapes originating from that region. That’s right, Argentina, France made Malbec first–you thieving wannabes. Kidding, you guys (sort of). But the blend, much to my delight, made my usual Argentinean go-to wine taste ordinary  in comparison. There are a few steps to taste wine appropriately (according to my google searches). So for all of my fellow snoobs (newby snobs) out there, here is the general break down:

1. Look:  Apparently you hold your glass up to the light, preferably against a white background and describe what it looks like. My glass of Malbec/Merlot–Malblot we can nickname it (Robert Parker is dying slowly somewhere right now)–looks really dark purple in the middle and has a bit of a red tinge on the outside. Because it hails from 2010, it is not going be as orange around the rim as it may have been if it were a bit older.

2. Smell: Alcoholic. Just kidding. You have to swirl your glass around for about 10 seconds, you fool. It smells a bit earthy and definitely flowery.

3. Taste: Begin at the beginning (swish it around), go through the middle (pause to think), and notice the end (swallow and judge the aftermath).

The Beginning:  Definitely soft at the beginning.

The middle: Tangy and fruity in the middle.

The end: Bitter and warm.

The verdict of a novice wine drinker:  At $17.99 a bottle, I wouldn’t pick it up to drink alone on a rainy Tuesday night on the couch. But for a hot date or for cooking a meal with friends that is a bit on the heavier side–most definitely. Overall, a yummy glass of wine for less than $20. Blown out of the park? Not entirely. Try it again? Absolutely.

That’s all folks.  Next week, we shall venture into the land of the whites.  Thanks Little Wine Shop for helping me out!




  1. johnlmalone

    I’m a great lover of red wine . I enjoyed this blog, the discoveries you made along the way. and thanks btw for following my blog

  2. Stefano

    I like you style, C!
    And I agree that points count up to a… point 😉
    Anyway, there are definitely wines worth drinking out there that are in the twenties, so I will be following your quest with interest.
    In this regard, might I ask that you add a follow button to your blog? I prefer it over the one that appears by default in the bar at the top of your blog because if you add it I get an email whenever you publish a post, which I find it handy. Were you ever to consider doing this and yet wonder how you add a follow button, do not despair: just go to appearance/widgets in your dashboard and then drag the follow button to your footer, and you are done 🙂
    Have fun experimenting and searching for good wines!

    • winebbler

      Thank you so much for leaving such a thoughtful comment. Any suggestions? Recommendations for this week? You seem to have quite the expertise on the subject, and I am really up for anything. Will definitely add that button. Glad that you are wanting to keep reading! Best, C. xx

      • Stefano

        Sorry if it took me forever to answer your question. Well, in the price range you target, off the top of my head I would see if you can get a bottle or two of (A) whites: Argiolas, Vermentino di Sardegna Costamolino (about $13) or Feudi di San Gregorio, Falanghina Sannio (about $16) or Ocone, Falanghina del Taburno “Flora” (about $14) or Zenato, Lugana San Benedetto (about $14) or (B) reds: Allegrini, Palazzo della Torre (about $17) or Castello di Volpaia, Chianti Classico (about $20) or Valle Reale, Vigne Nuove Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (about $12) or Hauner, Salina Rosso (about $13) or Di Majo Norante, Ramitello Rosso IGT (about $16).
        This list should get you started as far as Italy is concerned, and you can experiment with different grape varieties and styles so you can have your own opinion on them. If you get to try out any of those, let me know how you like them.
        Keep rockin’ the wine world, C!
        I look forward to reading more from you. 🙂

  3. intenselyme

    Haha, what great timing it is to find this blog 🙂 I just started drinking wine a few days ago. It’s on my life list to learn to appreciate wine. I shall be watching and waiting for your wine reviews and recommendations. I’ve only tried one super cheap blackberry wine that I was given as a housewarming gift last week, but I enjoyed it immensely.
    Thanks for the watch 😀

  4. Bristol Wine Blog

    The guy in the wine shop gave you good advice. Parker’s points may be useful or they may not – it depends if your tastes are the same as his – and why should they be? The best way to learn about wine is to sample widely and talk to and read people who seem to be making sense. Best Wishes for the Blog

  5. Mountainstroh

    I don’t know if it is available in GA, but look for a wine called Boomtown. It’s the lesser label of my favorite winery, Dusted Valley, and runs under $15 a bottle and is VERY good. Good luck on your quest!

  6. Pingback: No. 1, et al. « winebbler
  7. K.M. Kowalski

    Great concept and fun blog.
    On the subject of reds, Montepulciano is often available quite cheaply (often $10 and under retail), and it goes remarkably well with most types of Italian food.
    We also had a half case of French Cinsault a while back, which is often available at well under $20 too. It was perfect with burgers.

    • winebbler

      Thanks, KM. Are you all about reds? I’m trying to branch out and try a white this upcoming week–I’ll let you know how it goes. I’ll be on the lookout for your Montepulciano, too. Bisous! C. xx

  8. Pingback: No. 2 | winebbler
  9. Travvel Sized

    Love the concept!! In Singapore cheap wine is tough to come by (let alone GOOD cheap wine), but 2009 Vineland Semi-Dry Riesling (from Niagara, Canada) is one of my personal favourites!

  10. edgar62

    Not really a drinker of White Wine, mainly Red and Red I buy. I did say in another post that I like a wine from the Clare Valley (That’s in South Australia ) and they do produce some really nice, drinkable wine at reasonable prices. . Likewise the Barossa Valley. Good wines ( or so I am told) are produced in other States, but most of our shops are very parochial and only stock South Australian Wines. Although, having said that – there is a lot of regions and they all produce fine wine. Yes, can’t be bothered with Wine Snobbery – drink what you like and be happy.

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