I’m sure the first thing the folks at Beso de Vino wanted me to see on this bottle was the 90-point score it received from Jay Miller of The Wine Advocate (which is likely why that number was posted front and centre on the neck in bigger font than the wine’s name). Instead, the first thing I saw was: testicles. Yes, for reasons only known to a marketing department that should be immediately fired, BdV’s loveable mascot Antonio the Bull is drawn on the main label of the wine as a blatantly anatomically-correct stick figure. Is it really necessary to showcase the animated gonads of a cartoon bull? It has horns; I can already tell it’s a bull without any more explicit gender identification. I don’t think the testicles add anything in particular to the artist’s rendition, and it’s not like the bull is really central to the wine or its faux back story (that Antonio kissed the wine and fell in love…not exactly deep stuff). I am at a loss to explain this, but it’s hard to think of anything else when I look at the bottle. Most unnecessarily X-rated critter wine ever.
Hand-drawn testicles or not, Beso de Vino (literally, Kiss of Wine — see lame back story above) has been making waves recently as an ultra-cheap (this bottle was $13) producer of quality wine, that magical combination that everyone is always looking to find. BdV is based out of the Carinena region of Spain, which is located in the central-eastern part of the country, just southeast of the much more renowned area of Rioja, the heartland of traditional Spanish wine. Carinena can be the source of incredible values and tends to produce less classic and more juicy and modern wines, in part because it often features international grape varieties that aren’t otherwise often seen in Spain. Case in point: this Seleccion is a blend of Syrah (a French grape planted worldwide) and Garnacha (a Spanish varietal, though the same as French Grenache), and as a $13 bottle that somebody gave 90 points, it has bargain credibility. Does it live up to it?
Not quite. The Seleccion was a deep but lurid bright purple colour, but came across as aromatically challenged: the overall aromas were fairly quiet and muted, and what was there was heavy on the wood (sawdust, cedar) and wood-induced (coffee, nuts) notes, which held court over lesser impressions of stewed dark fruit. It kicked things up a notch on the palate, with a full body, mouth-warming alcohol, increasingly aggressive powdery tannins and crisp acidity, a great skeleton of structure for a cheaper bottle, but unfortunately the flavours didn’t quite fill out the wine’s frame. I tasted baked black fruit, pomegranate, black pepper, leather and cinnamon, but it took a lot of straining to pull out those flavours; on a quick sip, it just tasted like red wine. There was a nice rustic earthiness surrounding the fruit notes, but nothing about this bottle screamed out either “Syrah” or “Spain” to me, and the flavour vanished quickly on the finish. You certainly won’t be disappointed in the Seleccion for less than $15 a bottle, but you also won’t find anything distinctive, indicative of place or grape, or otherwise interesting or memorable. It’s a bottle that could have come from anywhere and been made of anything, but it is readily drinkable at a wallet-friendly price, so it deserves some recognition for that…just not 90 points worth of recognition. Especially after the testicle deduction.
$10 to $15 CDN