Tag Archives: Cava

wine advice

Father’s Day wine 2014

Father's Day wine 2014

You don’t have to buy Dad another tie. Wouldn’t he prefer wine?

Tired of ties? Worn out from from all those cheesy department store Father’s Day TV commercials? That’s what wine is for — to make Father’s Day 2014 more fun for everyone involved. Keep the blog’s wine gift-giving guidelines in mind throughout the process: “Don’t buy someone wine that you think they should like; buy them what they will like.”

Some wine to consider for Father’s Day 2014:

? Juv y Camps Brut Nature Gran Reserva 2008 ($14, purchased, 12%): Delicious and surprisingly sophisticated cava — sparkling wine from Spain — with all sorts of things going on, including honey in the back, some citrus in the front, and even a little minerality. Toast Dad with this one, and impress everyone.

? Ch teau du Donjon Minervois Ros 2013 ($10, purchased, 12.5%): Look for sour cherry fruit and some minerality, though a bit thin in the middle. This is not so much a problem with the wine but with the quality of $10 rose, because the wine is quite tasty.

? Robert Oatley Wild Oats Shiraz 2011 ($15, sample, 13.5%): Lots of spice to go with the fruity Australian style (berries?). This is a wine that shiraz lovers will enjoy, as well as those of us who don’t like the style. A fine value, and highly recommended.

? Solena Pinot Gris 2012 ($17, sample, 13.5%) Top-notch Oregon pinot gris (apples, crispy, refreshing) that shows what the state can do with this grape. A bit pricey, but a fine gift for dads who like this kind of wine.

More about Father ?s Day wine:
? Father’s Day wine 2013
? Father’s Day wine 2012
? Expensive wine 51: Stags’ Leap Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2010
? Wine of the week: Errazuriz Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Reserva 2010

wine news

Winebits 333: Prosecco and cava, buying a winery, and family wineries

Winebits 333: Prosecco and cava, buying a winery, and family wineries ? The Spanish understand these things: Imagine a California wine producer, facing intense competition for a foreign rival, and their reaction: “We must crush them!” But the Spanish, faced with the phenomenal growth of Prosecco over the past several years, have figured out that’s a good thing. “The Prosecco boom is helping to open minds and show that you don ?t need to wait for a special occasion to open a bottle of sparkling wine ? Prosecco and cava can be Monday night wines,” says Gloria Collell, the winemaker at Spanish cava giants Freixenet and Segura Viudas (and, in the interest of full disclosure, someone I know a little and like). Which, of course, is the Wine Curmudgeon’s approach to wine — drink it on Monday night (as well as Tuesday night, and so on and so forth). The interview, in the drinks business trade magazine, is worth reading for its sensible look at the sparkling business.

? The best due diligence: I’ve met a lot of new winery owners over the years, and too many of them admit they really didn’t understand what they were getting into. Now they have this to read, from Jonathan Yates at The Street: “There are always good buys in established wineries on the market as many of the sellers purchased without focusing on how the business model operates.” His three points — understand wine is made everywhere, understand the importance of the tasting room, and understand wineries as destinations — are as good as anything I have seen.

? Everyone owns a family business: The idea of local and the backlash against big and multi-national that started during the recession has even moved into wine. Casella Wines, the Australian producer that makes YellowTail, and has always been owned by the Casella family, has a new name — Casella Family Brands. Because, of course, nothing will better burnish the image of a brand that makes tens of millions of cases than the idea of family. It’s something E&J Gallo, still owned by the Gallo family, has always played up, and it’s even something that publicly-owned behemoth Constellation Brands, started by the Sands family and still run by it, tries to take advantage of. In wine, family and big are not mutually exclusive the way they are in so many other businesses.

wine of week

Wine of the week: Segura Viudas Brut Reserva NV

segura viudasThe Segura Viudas cava proves cheap wine’s greatness, a sparkling wine from Spain that offers much more value than it costs, and that does so year after year after year. Best yet, it does so without much Winestream Media attention, a minimum of high scores, and the kind of fawning that more expensive wine and Champagne gets from wine snobs.

I’ve been buying the Segura Viudas ($9, purchased, 12%) for years, almost from the time I started the blog. Yes, the company that makes it paid for a press trip to I took to Spain, but when has that ever stopped me from writing what I thought? This is terrific wine, ideal for sipping, toasting, and meals — bone dry, with tart green apple flavor balanced by a little tropical fruit, the yeastiness that you expect from more expensive champagne-style wines, and tight, delightful bubbles. I really love the bubbles.

This week, when it comes time to celebrate The Holiday that Must Not be Named, don’t worry about impressing your significant other with some high-end, overpriced sparkler that has the kind of description — “dough aromas” — that makes you shake your head and sigh. Pour this, don’t mention how much it costs, and accept the compliments gracefully.

champagne

New Year’s sparkling wine 2013

Call it champagne with small c (but not in front of a European), Champagne with a capital C, bubbles, or any of its other synonyms — sparkling wine deserves to be served more than at dinner on Dec. 31, for a toast at midnight, or at brunch on Jan. 1.

The good news is that it is. Bubbly has never been better made or more affordable; call it the revolution in sparkling wine. What else do you need to know for the occasion? The Champagne and sparkling wine glossary is here, and you can check out the sparkling wine category for even more ideas. Suggestions for next week are after the jump: Continue reading

winetrends

The revolution in sparkling wine

Sparkling isn't just for weddings anymore.

Sparkling wine isn’t just for weddings anymore.

Add another change to the wine business, and one that may be even more surprising than moscato and sweet red wine or cheap pinot noir: The popularity of sparkling wine that isn’t from Champagne.

Because, for most wine drinkers for most of the last 60 years, there were only two kinds of sparkling wine — French Champagne and the very cheap U.S. stuff that tasted like flat 7-Up (and that still dominates U.S. sales). There was bubbly from elsewhere, of course, but quality was poor and there wasn’t much of available, even if someone wanted to try it.

That has changed over the past couple of years, as I wrote in a story in this month’s Beverage Media trade magazine — and just in time for the holiday bubbly season, when we drink as much as half of all the sparkling wine sold during the year. In this, it ?s not so much that Champagne fell out of favor; rather, improvements in quality, increased availablity, and very good prices helped introduce consumers to the Spanish-made Cava, the Italian Prosecco and even fizzy moscato. And, as with sweet red and cheap pinot, consumers discovered they liked the wines.

Or, as one very perceptive retailer told me: “They really don ?t care where it ?s coming from, as long as it ?s different. They aren ?t the same old, same old California sparkling wines or the same Champagne. They ?re not the same wines that have been around now and forever. ?

The story ?s highlights and a few other thoughts:

? Bubbly consumption increased by 14 percent from 2007 to 2012, compared to four or five percent (depending on the report) for all wine. Much of that growth came from non-Champagne categories, and especially from Spain (up almost five percent in 2012) and Italy. The Italian surge has been phenomenal, accounting for two-thirds of the increase in imported sales in 2012.

? It’s almost impossible to underestimate the improvement in quality over the past several years. It started with Cava and moved on to the Italian wines, all of which are cleaner, more consistent, and with fewer off notes. They taste better, as simple as that may sound.

? Bubbly drinkers are more open minded than ever, willing to try something that doesn’t come from Champagne. Much of this can be traced to price, since these wines cost as little as one-tenth of Champagne, but it’s also about more adventurous palates. That a sparkling wine made with xarel-lo or glera could be worth drinking never occurred to previous generations of sparkling wine drinkers, who were quite snobby about their bubbly.

? We’re drinking sparkling with dinner more than ever before, which is a very welcome development (as regular visitors here well know). Again, this rarely happened with Champagne, which was seen — and is still marketed — as something for a special occasion.

? Sweet sells, and especially for the Italian brands. The difference is that some of the wines are not just sweet, but well made, something that isn’t necessarily true for many of the sweet reds.

? The generational divide that we’ve seen elsewhere in the wine business has shown up here, too. Younger wine drinkers are more likely to try non-Champagne wines, not only because they’re less expensive but because they don’t know or care that they’re only supposed to drink Champagne. That’s one reason why cocktails made with sparklers are so popular. Who else but someone who wasn’t a Champagne snob would want to drink something like a Bellini, which is made with peach juice?

Photo courtesy EugeniaJoy of Kiev, Ukraine, via stock.xchng using a Creative Commons license

Wine of the week: Dibon Brut Reserve NV

101462How much did this Cava impress me? The bottle had a neck hanger with a Winestream Media blurb, but I bought it anyway.

And why not? The Dibon ($10, purchased, 11.5%) is a sophisticated sparkling wine with layers of flavor that is made more in the style of Champagne than Cava — creamy and caramel-like with candied pineapple in back and not as much tart apple. In this, it's got more winemaking going on than I like, but you can't argue with the results. This is an incredible value for $10.

My guess is that this wine, made by the largish Spanish producer Bodegas Pinord, is a one-off ? made because there were so many quality grapes available, thanks to the euro crisis and the collapse of the Spanish economy and its 25 percent unemployment rate. Cava sales in Spain were down six percent in 2012, so it makes sense that some producers would re-label bottles or make wines especially for the export market. The Dibon is not listed on the Pinord website, and even Robert Parker had not heard of it when he reviewed it.

Highly recommended, and a candidate for the 2014 $10 Hall of Fame. Drink this chilled on its own or with Sunday brunch or something like a crabcake appetizer.

Mini-reviews 45: Penfolds, Caldora, Brancaia, Paul Cheneau

Reviews of wines that don ?t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another. Look for it on the final Friday of each month:

? Penfolds Koonunga Hill Shiraz Cabernet 2010 ($12, sample): Perfectly acceptable grocery store red blend from Australia — simple and fruity, but not flawed or offensive.

? Caldora Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2011 ($9, purchased): Ordinary Italian red with just a hint of Italian-ness and neither especially funky or fresh. More New World in style than anything else.

? Brancaia Tre Toscana 2010 ($23, sample): Italian red with lots of sweet red fruit and a bit of tannin and acid, but not especially Tuscan in any way

? Paul Cheneau Cava Blanc de Blancs Reserva NV ($10, sample): Very ordinary cava, which would not be a bad thing except that so much cava is so extraordinary. Much better available at this price.