Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Naked Vine Double Barrel -- A Perfectly Serviceable Pair: Mandolin

Sometimes you just need WYSIWYG wine.

For those of you unacquainted with the acronym, WYSIWYG (pronounced “wizzy wig”) is old tech slang for “What You See Is What You Get.” The term refers to a user interface where the content you see on the screen is more or less identical to what you’d see if you printed or displayed it. For instance, as I’m typing this, the document looks more or less like the post will end up the way you see it now.

As this relates to wine, when I’m thinking about a certain meal or if I’m in the mood for a certain flavor, I can say to myself, “I’m in the mood for a chardonnay.” I know I want a decent wine, but I don’t really want to spend a lot of time with pairing or subtlety. In other words, a solid quaffer in a general category. Both bottles of the recent pair of samples from Mandolin Wines qualify as WYSIWYG.

Mandolin, though headquartered in Napa, focuses on making wine from Monterey County, California and a few other areas along the Central Coast. Their wines all retail for around $10-12. They’re straightforward wines that, in both cases here, made me say, “Yep. That’s a decent [insert grape name here].” Was I blown away by either of them? No. Would I buy either of them again? Sure. They’re table wines. Think of them along those lines, and you’ll be very pleased. For a little more detail:

Mandolin 2012 Monterey Chardonnay – Definitely a California chardonnay, but a middle of the road once, intensity wise. I got cream and sweet apples on the nose. “The flavor doesn’t explode your tongue with oak,” said the SPinC, “but it’s definitely there.” The label mentions tropical fruits. I’d say that pineapple is the dominant of those types flavors, but it’s not sweet pineapple. The fruit quickly gets overtaken by considerable oak. Rather than lingering on the finish like many oaky chardonnays, the oak gets clipped by a wave of lemony acidity. All in all, a good quaffer on its own or with food. Our meal was salmon filets “poached” over white beans, rosemary, and bacon. Tasty meal.

Mandolin 2012 Monterey Pinot Noir – “Perfectly serviceable” reads my note, especially since it’s twelve bucks. A decent “drinking not thinking” wine that would be solidly food-friendly. Cherries and sawdust stand out on the nose. Body is quite light, although there’s good cherry and raspberry flavor that segues into a considerable amount of smokiness which continues through the finish. I don’t usually find the kind of smokiness and silkiness at this price point. Alongside leftovers of a roasted cauliflower soup with toasted almonds and prosciutto, it made for a pretty good pairing. The soup was tasty and the wine was there. Neither of us had the brainpower that evening to think much, so it made for a good pairing.

Mandolin also makes a Riesling from Monterey, and Central Coast Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah.

(Thanks to Folsom + Associates for the samples.)

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