2011 Wild Brush Cellars Wagon Train Vnyd Lodi Zinfandel $5.99

Silverdale, WA   14.9% alc.   (Purchased on 4/6/13)

IMG_0938Back label states this Zin was “Cellared and bottled by Wine Roots, St. Helena, CA”.  It also talks about “eureka!”, “plunder”, the “wild west”, “kick and attitude”, and “saddling up for a wild ride”.  Right now I’m asking myself, “why did I buy this?”

Clear medium ruby/garnet.  Nose has a rather rustic, smokey, peppery quality.  But my wife thought (and I’d agree) that it also has a strange floral hyacinth bouquet.  In the mouth, it seems thin, tart and a little acidic with green peppercorn flavors and little blackberry/brambleberry attributes.  There are some tannins, but it has a watery, short finish.  For me, this is a flat, uninspiring Zinfandel that is seriously lacking in the spicy, berryish fruit I look for in good quality Zins.

I bought five new reds at my local GO on April 6th after a long wait for something new.  The first three I’ve reviewed here have been far less than memorable.  I can only hope that the last two (both Carmeneres) bring something to the table.


8 thoughts on “2011 Wild Brush Cellars Wagon Train Vnyd Lodi Zinfandel $5.99

  1. Kent

    I just picked up this wine and at $3.99 per bottle, it’s an excellent value. I actually find it nicely balanced and flavorful. Not outstanding, but for a bottle of dinner red, it’s hard to beat.

    1. lim13 Post author

      Glad you enjoyed it, Kent. It obviously just wasn’t for me. At two dollars less, I’d have at least felt less “cheated”. For our readers who may want to give it a shot based on your comments, where did you buy it?

  2. BRL

    As for the domestic wines at GO, I am not seeing many decent labels recently. Most are the low-grade California-designated stuff with no appellations.

  3. Seedboy

    Leftbanker. I feel your pain. I also appreciate your palate. I feel like GO might be entering the territory that TJs entered about 20 years ago, where they’ve grown enough so that the good buys we like cannot reach all the stores. Also, let’s face it, the market has adjusted, so the good deals may not be available like they once were. In any event find me, let’s talk.

  4. LeftBanker

    Lim13: I’m seeing a lot of “why did I buy this?” type reviews lately. Been experiencing the same thing myself more often than I remember happening in the past, and I think of myself as fairly selective in what I buy there.

    Enjoyed a bottle of that Gascon Sauv Blanc with dinner tonight and I think it was the last decent wine I’ve gotten at GO. (I didn’t share the widespread enthusiasm for the JakeRyan stuff, but that’s just my taste, I suppose.) Other than those two, it’s been a long dry spell. So, at dinner tonight I said “I like this wine but I think I’m going to stop buying GO wines. Too many duds lately. Think I’ll spend a few more bucks a bottle and know that the juice inside is decent.” The love of my life just smiled and said “good idea.” Hmmm.

    Think I’ll be paying more attention at TJs and Costco as well as some of our excellent local wine shops as I work through the small backlog of GO winners I still have.

    Wishing your desktop a speedy recovery. I hate it when that happens.

    1. BargainWhine

      Hi LeftBanker. You’re certainly not alone in complaining about GO wine selections of late. I paid a visit to my adored K&L in San Francisco recently and came back with a few inexpensive bottles that I would consider quite pricey at the GO. (Do you consider any shop comparable to K&L in the East Bay?) Even so, it seems that the GO has trouble selling bottles over $8 or so. For example, that Valpolicella Ripasso which was uniformly praised here is still at the Berkeley store for $9. Although this blog is for GO wines, as an honored alumnus, feel free to tell us about bargains you find elsewhere.

      1. LeftBanker

        That Ripasso was tasty enough, but I’d say there are consistently better wine buys at Oddlots for value wines. I know their stock, and vintage after vintage, I have my go-to favorites (Quincy SB, Vouvray Chenin Blanc, Pic St. Loup, Cote de Provence, a decent drink-every-day Manzanillo, and a few others, at about $8-12). At the pricier end, IMO you cannot beat Kermit Lynch, but my taste aligns more or less precisely with the Kermit mantra. That’s where I go for special-events wines, although I will say his standard Cotes de Rhone @ $12 is as good as it gets and there’s a new Italian Rosso (blended by Kermit himself they tell me) under $10. There’s that little shop on 4th (next to the Pasta Shop, I forget its name) that has turned some good deals for us. And, in my neighborhood, there’s the old waterworks (again, the name escapes me, Vintage Berkeley maybe?) on Vine between Shattuck and Walnut, great selections at modest (but well above GO, of course) prices. I’ve been an on-and-off regular at their Thursday tastings and invariably find something I like.

        What I’m finding is that GO wines are more of a crapshoot than they used to be. Or maybe it’s just that they have fewer of the kinds of wine I like best, so I go deeper into the stock than I used to. But, whatever the reason, I’ve tossed several half-drunk (the amount of wine, not my condition) bottles recently. I’ve never not enjoyed a wine from any of the above.

        Also, I’ll repeat: TJs and Costco (if you have a card) can turn up some well-priced winners. I got a Cote de Provence rose from Costco that was superb (ok, I know it’s not everyone’s favorite, but it is one of mine) for less than $10. Compared to the GO bottle a while ago, at $9ish as I recall, it was quite a bit more enjoyable. But, more to the point, when I bought it it wasn’t “Hmm, I wonder?” it was “I’ll bet this is good.”

        I guess it’s the risk/reward profile. I think the risk at GO is disproportionate to the reward these days. I’ll note two other things: 1) they have been expanding greatly. There simply may not be enough old-stock wine on the market to cover their expanded turf. And 2) the economy is improving, so I’m guessing fewer decent bottles are sitting in inventory to the extent they were a few years ago, thus they aren’t in the deep-discount stream.

        K&L is great, but I don’t get to that part of SF often enough. I tend to BART into the city, so it’s off my beaten path. Love of my life adores the Marie Duffau Napoleon Bas Armagnac, which I’ve not found anywhere else, so that’s an occasional destination buy that gets me to K&L.


        1. BargainWhine

          Whew, indeed. It took me a while to digest all that. Thank you! I had forgotten about Vintage Berkeley (although I browsed their store on College near Ashby recently, and was impressed), and I don’t know the one on 4th St (I assume you mean “Vino!” and not the Wine.com retail outlet). To your list, I’d also add the Wine Mine, on Telegraph near 55th. IMO, they have a smallish but but diverse and interesting selection, at good prices. And, after telling the proprietor that I like wines that are “structured and earthy, even stony” I have not been steered wrong.

          The basic problem is that GO is now buying wine in larger lots of generally lower quality or more boring wines. I can’t in any way judge the factors of GO expansion and of improving economy you cite, but I am a little skeptical that could be all of it. For the first, it would seem like their model of purchasing (bought centrally and then individual stores order what they want; all stores do not have to have all wines) could still include smaller lots unless they think it’s no longer worth the time and effort, i.e., staff has not commensurately increased with volume. For the second, people are still not employed, or are otherwise still under financial pressure, although maybe producers have scaled back to the levels of the “new normal.” But also, I’ve heard references to this being the effect of the GO’s new wine buyer. To me, judging by the purchases that have shown up, this buyer seems to have a “wine is wine” attitude without appreciating things like characters of individual wines (i.e., smaller amounts of more diverse wines), or the benefits of rapid turnover.

          It sounds like I am a little more constrained in my wine budget than you are, so I’ll hang in there with the GO for a while longer. (I also love Kermit Lynch wines, but I cannot bring myself to pay their prices.) However, if things keep up like this through and after the sale, I may start drinking less but better wine, which would probably be good for me.


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