sweet dilemma.

it’s spring, and i’m a cheat.

as the weather in new york has shifted, so have my tastes in wine. in the course of a few weeks, i’ve shamelessly abandoned my wintertime lovers – strong, heavy, hedonistic reds with a ton of juice and tannins for days – for light and airy whites that look nothing like their dark and handsome counterparts.

suddenly, i can’t stop buying bright spanish albarinos, apple-tart verdejos, and new york rieslings that would shudder at the touch of oak. floral, fresh, light, sweet: i’ll take it, without a backward glance at the thick reds that filled my glass and warmed me during those endless chilly nights.

as long as i’ve admitted to playing fast and loose with my wine morals, i may as well make another confession: this spring, i’ve strayed from the semi-predictable world of traditional whites to the schizophrenically-confusing california varietal.

it’s not an easy wine to love. some are amazing, some amazingly bad.

amazing: caymus’ conundrum ($26).


perhaps fittingly, i first tasted conundrum during one of my first nights in grad school. condundrum is only offered by the bottle at alto cinco, but the bartender that evening had a table who had left a bottle unfinished. (quel horreur!)

it was my lucky night.

condundrum is, without question, the most perfectly balanced white wine i’ve ever come across. it’s silky and lush, with a slight citrus bite working in perfect counterpoint to a soft, vanilla-floral backdrop.

it’s jaw-droppingly, mind-numbingly, drink-a-whole-bottle-without-a-second-thought good.

it’s also way out of my price range. talk about a conundrum!

(ba-da-bah! i’ll be here all night.)

so, like any good pauper, i’ve taken to searching for a decent imitation.

problem is, the quest for a passable conundrum knockoff is turning out to be as difficult as finding a perfect chanel bag replica in the backstreets of chinatown. maybe even harder. i’ve tried several, which i’ll be reviewing in future posts. some are passable, and some are downright good, but all of them pale in comparison to my beloved blend.

no matter the difficulties. i’ll keep looking.  it’s bad enough to be cheating on reds this spring. i hate to think how my wallet is feeling.

the wine: 2007 caymus conundrum
composition: only the vintners know; that’s the conundrum. according to the website, it’s a blend of napa valley sauvignon blanc, tulare county muscat, chardonnay and viognier grapes. a little of this and a little of that, really.
hails from: monterey, california
flavor profile: smooth and bright, citrusy and fragrant.
tannins: peek out from behind, lending structure and complexity to the wine (about 3/4 of the conundrum grapes are oak-aged)
accolades: 88 pts., wine spectator
approximate cost:



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4 responses to “sweet dilemma.

  1. Pingback: A-pour-priate « wine with ramen

  2. Menage a Trois carries a white wine blend that is similar to Caymus Conundrum (my all time fave wine). It’s not exactly the same, but it is less expensive – runs about $14 per bottle. Give it a try!

  3. Hi Brenna,

    Long time reader, first time commenter. Keep up the good work.

    I, too, have had a bottle of the wonderful Conundrum (I had 2006). The nose is delicious followed by the wonderful tropical and floral notes in your mouth. I have also been hard pressed to find a suitable imitation. However, I have found some wonderful similarities in some great values.

    $8 Finca el Origen 2007 Reserva Torrentes from Marketview Liquor – wonderful tropical notes with the ever alluring grapefruit on the nose.

    $9 Cayuga’s own Lucas Vineyards’ Miss Chevious also has the wonderful grapefruit with some tropical fruit and a hint of apricot. Not to mention some very nice acidity.

    However, nothing was quite as refined and balanced as Conundrum. Yet, to me, they seemed to be very nice substitutes. QPR-wise these two actually beat Conundrum hands down.

  4. Thanks for the kind words for Conundrum! We believe there is no substitute. We have a new label, so check it out at http://www.whatsyourconundrum.com, where you can also see where to buy it and post a conundrum of your own for the community to answer!

    Conundrum Winery
    aka Aundy

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