When I was visiting family in Maine this past Holiday season, I stumbled upon a new wine brand named Three Wishes. The bottles peaked my interest as they were oddly shaped (shorter and lighter than the regular 750 ml bottles) with a pretty label – clean and simple.
Three Wishes Vineyards is based in Livermore, California. They produce non-vintage wines (meaning not from a specific year and can be blended with many vintages) in and from California and started appearing for sale at Whole Foods Markets in October of 2010.
I picked up all three of their offerings: Merlot, Cabernet and Chardonnay. Each were $2.50. This is a brand that intends to compete with Trader Joe’s low price entry-level wine called Charles Shaw’s 2 Buck Chuck. So, in the name of science and value priced wine experiences – I had to buy all three to try them and let you know how they fared.
Here are my notes:
Chardonnay: Extremely pale in color, not quite straw. When swirled, the body is light as well, with no tears on the glass. Nose of stone fruit, perhaps guava or papaya..and pineapple with honeysuckle. Traces of citrus like lime or grapefruit. Not giving much away from the nose. Taste is similar though, with definite stone fruits like apricot and very definitely grapefruit. If I did not pour this myself from the bottle, I would think it was a cheap New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc or even off-dry (semi-sweet) style Riesling. The mid palate is invisible, it goes from initial fruit and sweetness to an incredible dry, tart, sour, metallic and astringent finish quickly. This wine is extremely unbalanced as the fruit and the alcohol have not quite come together. I can not recommend this.
Merlot: Again, light in color, especially for this varietal. Nose of cherry and vanilla (um, sounds like they are doing a switch on the varietals here again. This looks and smalls like a light – albeit cheap, pinot noir. Starts with raspberries and a bit of that cherry vanilla cola, and fades fairly quickly into the night. It is easy drinking, no harshness like it’s Chardonnay brethren. Sweet through the mid palette right to the finish – with a bit of fake candy-esque sweetness. Wish it had a bit more personality or backbone, but it’s OK for casual settings or newbies. This won’t make anyone take notice/remember it, or get sick. Note: it improves slightly after some time swirling or decanting. Again, this one, for $2.50, is “OK”.
Cabernet: Lighter than most cabs, with a nose of dark fruit. Plum on the initial taste, with dark berries. Ok, so this one actually tastes a bit more like what the Merlot should be. So strange. This one goes from ok to bad quickly…finishes with a hot,tart and tannic bitterness that I can not get past. This one is a no-go, for any price.
So, which did I pour a glass of after tasting it all? The Merlot. But again, I can’t really call it that, as it really has more of a cheap pinot noir profile. So, for $2.50, I would say – try it. It is better than some of the cheap bottles I have had for more money (i.e Estancia Pinot Noir).
Please don’t misunderstand me – I am not saying this is life changing, good or must try stuff…but if you are in Whole Foods and have been drinking ”2 Buck Chuck” – try this at the same price and see what you think. I would also say try the Chardonnay, but don’t expect Chardonnay since it has more of the initial NZ Sauvignon Blanc traits (then that dry sour aftertaste).
My Three wishes:
1) I wish these wines were better – but they are under 3 dollars and that’s a tall wish.
2) I wish my palette could not differentiate between great, good, bad and really bad wine. Unfortunately I can, and I think you will notice on this occasion if you have not yet.
3) I wish people who try this will see the difference between this and a decent 7-9 dollar bottle in terms of quality – and go with something made well, but value priced like Chateau St Jean, Columbia Crest Two Vines from Washington State, Cupcake Vineyards, and Yellowtail. Big House wines that come in the Octavin have 3 liters and comes out to about $5 a bottle and a really great buy for the quality!
I also have a 4th wish:
I hope if new wine drinkers try this, it will be an entry point into wine, not a final destination.
In winning the battle between Charles Shaw and Three Wishes –being the best of the worst is still not a huge compliment is it? Their Merlot (that taste like Pinot Noir) is the best of the 3, then the Chardonnay, and last is the Cabernet.
Try and see – is what I recommend, then you be the judge. It’s cheap enough to try this tasting at home for under $8. But as I always say – “Life is too short for (really) bad wine”!
Coming up next post:
I am about to do a tasting for a new brand called Wily Jack. It is about $5 USD and comes in Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel. Let’s see if doubling the price doubles the quality of the last one! Oh, and for those in the brand/marketing field – Michael Schwab (I love his work) designed the labels! Nice bold branding. Check back soon!
Steve From the Trellis