Revisiting the Epicuro red wines

I remember when these wines burst onto the scene late 2007/early 2008 and how much I enjoyed them back then. I’ve certainly drank more than my fair share of these over the years but haven’t posted my thoughts in quite some time. Given I slotted the Aglianico into the 10th position of my Top 10 list and the 8th in the classics I thought it would be prudent to revisit the lineup. With that here we go….
Revisiting the Epicuro red wines

  • 2008 Epicuro Aglianico ($5) – (13.5%) Juicy blackberry and clove notes on the nose. The palate starts with lots of oak and big fruit completely lacking of acidity and/or balance. A jammy mid-palate serves tart blackberries and sage, herbal spice on a quick finish with harsh tannins. Such a shame it makes me wish I had more of the ’05 left. This serves as a textbook case study in the economics of Trader Joe’s wine. It generally follows these steps: 1) Source a new wine. 2) Wine sells well. 3) Ask winemaker to produce more quantity next year but price can’t change. 4) Next vintage is not as good as previous vintage. Snowball that by a few vintages and you have a sad story. Unless you are just looking for something to cook with (and steal a few sips from) I’d steer clear of this one…
  • 2008 Epicuro Nero d’Avola ($5) – (13%) Light fruit and wood on the nose. Juicy with soft, warm fruit on the palate, Despite being only 13% this one seems to be lacking the acidity I would like to see. A bit flabby all the way to the finish before grippy tannins appear in an attempt to rescue this one. While quaffable and fine for everyday “drinking” I would steer well clear if you are looking for a wine to spend some quality time with…
  • 2006 Epicuro Salice Salentino Riserva ($5) – (13%) 80% Negroamaro, 20% Malvasia Nera – Dark purple in the glass, ruby on the edges with dusty, warm fruit and barrel spice on the nose. The palate starts with a mouthful of sweet, juicy cherry and raspberry flavors shrouded in oak which is readily apparent throughout. Despite this shortcoming this wine is light bodied and well balanced with a firm acidic structure that makes it food friendly and a fine companion for cooking. The finish is of dry, tongue smacking tannins that lingers moderately. At this price there is little to complain about…

So there you have it. Disappointing but can’t say I didn’t expect it. My little rant within the Aglianico review rings true for many offerings that start out as great values at Trader Joe’s dating back all the way to Charles Shaw. That one will definitely be falling off both of my lists and the Salice Salentino could be a potential replacement. How about you? Have you had any of the Epicuro offerings as of late? If so I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below…

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7 thoughts on “Revisiting the Epicuro red wines

  1. We tried the Aglianco the other night (review not up yet) and didn’t think it was too bad, although the price certainly helps. (We tried it based on your top 10 list.) It was definitely better the second day too, so needs some time to open up. We haven’t tried any of the other vintages so we don’t have that comparison either, but all in all we were happy with it and would buy it again.

  2. The 2006 Salice Saliento is not as good as the 2005. Not terrible, but not nearly as pleasant to drink. One thing I found curious about the 2005 was that it tasted the best the day of opening. This is unlike many of Jason’s picks which taste better after a day or two of opening (like the Picket Fence Pinot)

  3. Jason, I was excited to recommend the ’08 Epicuro Primitivo to you, but then I discovered a 79 rating on CellarTracker that I think was your doing. Really? I thought it was much better than that. Ripe, buoyant, expressive — sort of the “Allure de Robles” of the Epicuro line (if you’ll excuse the incestuous TJ’s metaphor). I agree with you that the finish wasn’t massive, but neither is the price tag. Easily an 88 or 90 in my book, if the field were limited to $4.99 bottles. (Maybe the ghosts of ’05 Aglianicos past have warped your ability to objectively evaluate Epicuro’s offerings?)

  4. The biggest problem with these wines is the cork. They are sunk below the bottle rim, cork is dry and crumbly. I have already broken one very expensive Rabbit electric wine opener and cursed many a cork in the extraction with a screw pull. Trader Joe’s was willing to replace my Rabbit, and a few of the bottles of wine. I refused because it is not their fault. I’ve complained several times about the cork, but I must be the only one with the problem. Just opened a Salice this morning to go into a beef gravy. My Rabbit could not pierce the cork as it just crumbled. I had a heck of a time getting my screw pull to pierce it, as well.

  5. Have tried the Epicuros: one white and two reds and we LOVE the Salice Salentino. Not so fond of the others. And you are right Karen, I butchered several of those corks while attempting to open. But, worth it for the taste and price. :)

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