Vineyard: Lakewood Vineyards
Overall Score: 50
They say in this business "Don't let the label fool you," and that has certainly proved to be true in this case.
Lakewood's Charlatan was recommended to me by a friend several years ago. I was always a little reluctant to try it, but I finally gave it a go, and I must say, I was very disappointed.
To be fair, Lakewood puts together a beautiful presentation, bottled and labeled all quite elegantly. From the beginning the taster is presented with a product that builds anticipation. One can quickly assume that he or she is dealing with a high quality item here. But unfortunately, the packaging is all that is desirable about Lakewood.
The minute I uncorked Lakewood's Charlatan I immediately noticed that what was inside did not match what was on the outside. I was expecting a deep dark and rich red color, which seemed only logical since the packaging was a deep dark red also. Instead what came out was clear, with a slightly foul odor.
I let it "breathe" for a minute or two before finally taking a taste. To give it the benefit of a doubt, I thought that perhaps my sense of smell might be off a bit, or perhaps the foul odor I smelled was coming from another source. And despite the clear color, I thought that there still might be something pleasing once I finally gave it a taste. So after several minutes I picked it up, swirled it around a bit, gave it another sniff (the odor was still there) and gave it a taste. It was worse than I thought. It was lukewarm, bland, and completely unsatisfying. There was no substance at all.
So my rating for Lakewood Charlatan is 50. "Why" one might ask, "would you still give even a score of 50?" Well, to be fair, I still thought it was well packaged and nicely presented. Also, whatever was in that stuff has made my teeth really sparkle. I suppose that counts for something.