Qupé: Bright ruby. Big dirty funk explodes straight out of it. I really did not expect this from such an inexpensive wine–it’s just roiling in wet earth and dank leaves–none of it unpleasant–all of it beautiful. I expected a little more bright sunny Crozes-Hermitage or St. Joseph but instead we have this huge Chateauneuf-du-Pape dark fruit and leather. There is a chunk of very ripe fruit behind it and generous spice and a little tinge of alcohol that stings the nose. I don’t think we are anywhere nearing 14-0 on this, and am going to guess a nice solid Rhone 13-5.
Justin: Medium dark garnet definitely showing some brick at the edges. A definite chunk of polished tertiary comes out of it alongside wilted floral… lilac and rose, lilies left on the table for maybe just a hair too long. Round and almost bubble gummy–no, I’m not going to call it Bubble Gum–candied baked goods, round and unspicy in the nose. There is some spice, it’s just buried in baked goods–deep down carmelized in a clay oven pie.
On the label, these two may appear to have a lot in common: price, production, vast availability, and both are from the Central Coast. But under the cork they are polar opposites. One is from sunny Paso Robles and the other from cooler climates around Santa Barbara. The Syrah is probably a blend of Bien Nacido, Los Alamos and I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a chunk of Monterey in it. I seriously doubt if it contains any Paso fruit. I don’t know the production numbers on either one of these wines, I think the Justin is probably close to 100,000 cases and the Qupé could very well be in the same neighborhood although I would guess about half that. I get more queries about supermarket wine suggestions around holidays than any other time of year, and these are two I know you can buy from Tennessee to Idaho! And well-shopped they can be under 20 bucks. Either of these are going to be fabulous at a holiday meal.
Qupé: In the mouth very thin and mild and pleasant, nothing over-blown or extraordinary or really anything shocking, just nice easy fruit with enough acid that you know you’re drinking red wine and enough tannin that you know you’re definitely drinking red wine. Sharp tinny finish out at the edge where the fruit thins out but big solid middle round and full. I got no complaints here! This would make a lot of people happy and for 20 bucks yeah! And if you have any sort of wine-aficionados gathered, this one definitely gets the nod.
Justin: In the mouth more really rich round almost flabby concentration. It’s like Hawaiian Punch concentrate. Very little acid–completely spice driven and again, the spice is this caramelized, seriously savory, baked, dull apple-pie version. There’s a moderately serious glimmer of tannins which poke through far into the finish, but the entire mouth on this one is dominated from A to Z by huge rich luscious muscle-bound fruit. I would guess this thing’s probably pushin 15-0 but there’s no burn or alcohol heat in it AT ALL. There’s NOTHING but ripe fruit. It is smooth, smooth, smooth, just ridiculously tooth-achy ripe and smooth. This won’t insult anybody at the table except maybe hipster-somm and if you have one of those in the family, I’m sorry.
2014 QUPÉ Syrah Central Coast 13.5
2012 JUSTIN VINEYARDS Cabernet Sauvignon Paso Robles 14.5