Review: 2006 Layer Cake Primitivo

If I had to choose between cake or death, I'd choose this.  But I probably wouldn't choose it over actual cake...I’m not a wine pro by any stretch of the imagination, but this wine was something I just had to review. It’s weird.

The back of the bottle explains the name, “Layer Cake” by saying good wine should be like a layer cake. There should be a layer of chocolate, a layer of fruit, and a layer of spices. I liked the imagery, so bought the bottle. (Plus, the guy at the wine store said he liked it.)

Here’s my take. My metaphors may not be as colorful as Gary Vaynerchuk’s, but I’ll do my best:

The wine has nice color. It’s a Zinfandel, and has the deep color you’d expect to see. It’s fun on the nose. Not literally of course, but smelling it. It has a really powerful overripe fruit smell. It’s almost like fresh red licorice. It’s not like the dried out stuff, but that powerful almost chemical smell of fresh red licorice. It smells intriguing.

The taste is a bit startling. Now, I know you’d think if there’s a picture of cake on the bottle, I should expect it to be sweet. Honestly though, this Zinfandel is hard to place on the sweetness scale. I did not expect a dessert wine, but it’s definitely sweet. Sadly, not quite as sweet as a dessert wine would be. To me it’s tough to fit it anywhere.

As far as flavor (mid-palette I guess is the proper term), it’s fairly fruity, but there’s not much to write home about. I thought there would be more tannins based on how deep red it is, but really it’s a pretty simple wine. You can swish it as much as you want, and you’re not gonna get that much out of it. It doesn’t taste bad, it’s just not as exciting as I thought it would be based on the smell.

The finish, or as us hicks call it, “aftertaste” isn’t really great. My first thought was to describe it as though the wine was crapping in my mouth on the way down. The only lingering flavor is a weird bitter taste that just won’t go away. I’m normally a big fan of lingering flavor in wine — but I wish this one would stop. Please.

So while I have no idea how I’d rate it, I can tell you it’s not worth the $17.99 I paid for the bottle. It’s not bad enough I’ll dump it out, but I won’t buy it again. I also wanted to comment on the screw top. First off, I’m not a zealot. I have no problem with screw tops, rubber corks, or cork corks. I’ve had crappy varieties of all 3. In fact, some of the worst wine I’ve had has been under an actual cork. I’m fine with screw tops, I really am. The only thing I miss with them is the uncorking process, which I actually rather enjoy.

So there ya go. Layer Cake… Not so great actually, but better than no wine at all. If semi-sweet wine is your thing however, you might actually like this wine. If you find it on sale, pick some up. 🙂

12 thoughts on “Review: 2006 Layer Cake Primitivo

  1. I’m far from being a connoseur, but an Italian wine with an English label (“primitivo” aside) sounds too much like a marketing stunt for something of questionable quality. That, and I don’t like cakes. 🙂

  2. Hmmm. I think I’ll stick with my Barolos and Chiantis from Italy.

    Have you tried Rioja? I never had Spanish wine before going on a business trip to Barcelona, and I really liked the Riojas I tried. Given your descriptions of what you like, you might want to try some if you see it on sale.

    This one is not bad for the price.

  3. Shawn, I too miss the cork days. There seems to be something missing in the “Here, I will just unscrew the top to let it breathe” action that now comes with many of my favourite wines. That and what i am going to do with the 15 or so corkscrews that we have in our home????

  4. You did a pretty good job of writing a review. I think your descriptive wording is a lot better than what I did with that imported desert cake I just reviewed.

  5. Booze is what I do for a living and let me tell you, in that price range, I’ve had some exceptional wines and some pretty crappy ones. For $17.99, you’d expect something better, but I’ve had some bad wines that cost even more – so proof that price isn’t a reflection of what’s in the bottle. If you’re lucky, you can find someone with similar tastes to your own and try what they like. It’s all a matter of preference. If you like Zinfandel, Ravenswood is really consistent and around the same price range.
    John the scientist mentioned Spanish wines. Rioja is a famous region in Spain that makes fantastic wines! Try the one John mentioned or for one that’s not as pricey, but very good look for this one.
    Cheers!

  6. I’m with Carrie that the Ravenswood Zinfandel specifically is really good for the price. It’s something we always keep a couple bottles of around the house (typically it’s around ~$8/bottle so total guilt-free wine drinkin’).

  7. I agree with your review almost 100%, the part I don’t agree with is that I did end up dumping it out, I hated it! I’ll stick to to my Nero D’ Avolo’s, dry red ripasso’s…!!!

  8. You’re describing a wine made from poor quality bulk wine (sold at an outrages price.) As a matter of fact you did picked up one of the classic, typical bulk “wine flavors” correctly on the nose: “…powerful almost chemical smell…” Sorry, “ANY, any chemical smell” in any wine is in o way “intriguing” but it is supposed to put you on notice not to go any further, i.e. actually drink it!

  9. “I’m normally a big fan of lingering flavor in wine — but I wish this one would stop. Please.”

    That made me laugh.

    Overall, good wine review. I can tell you, it is one wine I will stay away from.

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