After sampling Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Rioja over the past week it’s time for a reality check—a battle of the supermarket wines, the wines that the vast majority of wine drinkers drink.
We have contrasting styles and contrasting marketing strategies here. Bogle is a large production, independent winery located in Clarksburg just South of Sacramento. Barefoot, located in Modesto, was purchased by E.J. Gallo in 2005 and is now AFAIK the largest selling wine in the U.S. Both source their grapes from the Central Valley in California where the weather is hot, the yields are high, and the goal is profit. Both brands aim at people looking for a reliable, flawless, enjoyable wine that won’t break the bank. Both are obviously successful.
Barefoot maintains an image of unpretentious, carefree fun. Bogle emphasizes the fact they are still family-owned and operated and project an image of affordable quality. Both live up to their image and offer good value, but one is clearly superior in quality.
The Barefoot had simple black fruit on the nose with vague spicy notes and some dusty earth. Overall, the nose is pleasant if uncomplicated. It is quite round and fruity on the palate with plenty of body, but it turns a little sour on the finish and lacks tannic structure. This is a gregarious, easy-drinking wine but the finish just doesn’t satisfy. People who like lots of up front fruit will enjoy this wine. It is not the style I prefer. (“NV” means non-vintage. Some wineries like to blend grapes from a variety of vintages because it enables them to maintain consistency from year to year. I suspect this is why Barefoot does this–you can always rely each year on drinking a very similar wine.)
Bogle always impresses with its typicity. Their wines invariably are true to the varietal. Black current with baking spices and herbaceous notes on the nose, the medium-body palate is framed by a little oak, with good structure and a satisfying finish. For an inexpensive wine, I nevertheless found myself lingering over the depth of flavor. Not as much up-front fruit as the barefoot but better structure and balance over all. With more depth of flavor,complexity, and structure, the Bogle wins this hands down. But it is more expensive. You get what you pay for here, but both are acceptable when the piggy bank runs low.
Scores: Bogle 85 Barefoot 80
Price: Bogle $10 Barefoot $6