Tag Archives: holiday wine

wine of week

Wine of the week: Segura Viudas Gran Cuvee Reserva NV

Segura Viudas Gran Cuvee ReservaGiven Segura Viudas’ $10 Hall of Fame reputation, it’s no surprise that the new Segura Viudas Gran Cuvee Reserva is another top-notch wine.

I say this even though the Gran Cuvee Reserva ($14, purchased, 12%) is the company’s attempt at trading consumers up, and we all know how the Wine Curmudgeon feels about premiumization. And, to make matters worse, it includes a little chardonnay and pinot noir, two grapes that sometimes show up in cava and rarely add much more than a flabby sweetness.

This time, though, the result is a more elegant, Champagne-like cava — which, of course, I should have expected given Segura’s devotion to quality. Look for some crisp apple, tart lemon, and even a hint of berry fruit, as well as a creamy mousse and a bit of yeasty aroma. Plus, it still has all those wonderful tight bubbles.

This is a step up from the regular Segura and well worth the extra three or four dollars. Highly recommended, whether you’re toasting the New Year in a couple of days or you feel like sparkling wine to brighten a gloomy winter’s day. I drank this with my annual holiday gumbo (chicken, sausage, and okra, made in the finest Cajun tradition, including a nutty, chocolate-colored roux) and my only regret was that I didn’t have a second bottle to drink.

champagne

New Year ?s sparkling wine 2015

New Year's sparkling wine 2015The Wine Curmudgeon will soon start the second year of his Champagne boycott, and I can’t say I’ve missed spending lots of money for wine that — as terrific as it can be — is almost never a value. With that in mind, here are my annual New Year’s sparkling wine suggestions, focusing on affordable bubbly that also offers value.

Also handy: The blog’s annual wine gift guidelines and the sparkling wine primer.

? Barefoot Bubbly Brut Cuvee ($10, sample, 11.5%): Every time I taste this California sparkler, and I taste it a couple of times a year, I’m always stunned at how well made it is. Even though it’s charmat, a less sophisticated production method than methode champenoise, the bubbles are still tight and the wine isn’t flabby or too sweet. Look for crisp apple fruit and a little creaminess, and serve well chilled.

? Fantinel Prosecco Extra Dry NV ($15, sample, 11.5%): The Champagne boycott has forced me to spend more time with Prosecco, and I’m glad I did, discovering wines that were neither too soft or too simple and demonstrating again one should taste the wine before judging it. The Fantinel, though it’s labeled extra dry, is not appreciably sweeter than many bruts, and it features a flowery aroma and well done tropical fruit.

? Mistinguett Cava Brut NV ($12, sample, 12%): Yet another Spanish bubbly that is simple but well-made and well worth the price. It’s got some sort of lemon-lime thing going on, but not too sweet and with a refreshing pop to it. Probably a little more Prosecco like than most cavas, but not unpleasant in the least.

? Pierre Boniface Les Rocailles Brut de Savoie NV ($15, purchased, 12%): This cremant from the Savoie region (cremant is French sparkling wine not from Champagne) is made with jacqu re, altesse, and chardonnay, so regular visitors know I would like it just for the two odd grapes. But it shows a touch of sweetness, some fresh white fruit, and a very intriguing minerality. It probably needs food, which you can’t say about most bubbly.

More about New Year ?s sparkling wine:
? New Year ?s sparkling wine 2014
? New Year ?s sparkling wine 2013
? New Year ?s sparkling wine 2012
? Wine of the week: Astoria Prosecco NV
? Wine of the week: Casteller Cava NV

Christmas wine 2015

Christmas wine 2015

Christmas wine 2015Suggestions for Christmas wine 2015, whether you need to buy a gift or need ideas about what to serve family and friends. As always, keep our wine gift giving tips in mind:

? Ponzi Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2013 ($40, sample, 13.2%): Pricey but elegant, this is an example of what Oregon pinot noir can deliver. Look for cherry and raspberry fruit and wonderfully soft tannins that remind you that this is red wine, but still pinot noir. It’s a terrific gift for someone who loves pinot, and would go equally as well with roast lamb.

? Scaia Rosato 2014 ($10, purchased, 12.5%): I bought a case of this Italian rose, and was lucky to get it. When I went back to the store, it was almost gone. It’s a gorgeous, Provencal-style rose with a touch more fruit (raspberry?) as well as the aroma of wildflowers and a wonderful freshness. Drink on its own, or as a gift for someone who isn’t sure they like wine. Highly recommended.

? La Fiera Pinot Grigio 2014 ($10, purchased, 12%): This Italian white doesn’t have as much fruit as I like, but it’s an excellent example of the tonic water style that is usually done so badly. It’s clean, simple, and refreshing; sip on its own, or with holiday turkey.

? Vibracions Cava NV ($9, purchased, 11.5%): This Spanish sparkler has green apple and lemon fruit, very tight bubbles, and cava freshness. It’s not rich or full, but it’s not supposed to be. Drink this with any holiday brunch or as an aperitif, if you’re feeling fancy.

? Vina Fuerte 2011 ($5, purchased, 13%): The good news is that this Spanish tempranillo delivers twice as much value as it costs, with cherry fruit, a bit of organe peel, and some heft. The bad news is that it’s sold mostly at Aldi, and my Aldi can’t keep it in stock. Drink with any red meat dinner or even roast chicken.

More about Christmas wine:
? Christmas wine 2014
? Christmas wine 2013
? Christmas wine 2012
? Expensive wine 75: John Duval Plexus
? Expensive wine 73: Pierre-Marie Chermette Fleurie Poncie 2013

winetrends

Holiday wine trends 2015

Holiday wine trendsHoliday wine trends in 2015? Red wine — lots and lots of red wine.

That’s the consensus from the retailers I’ve talked to over the past 10 days. The red blends boom, combined with an upsurge in interest in pinot noir, has shoppers going for what Chris Keel, who runs Put a Cork in It in Fort Worth, calls “a bigger style in red blends.”

That was born out by numbers from Wine.com, where two-thirds of the wine sold over the past year were red. Mike Osborne, the web site’s founder and and vice president of merchandising, reports that the leading red wine categories, including merlot, have grown by double digits.

Interestingly, prices seem stable, particularly on the high end, and we’re still looking for value. But we’re also willing to pay for a holiday splurge, says Nick Vorpagel of Lake Geneva Country Meats. “They’re generally OK with $15, especially for domestic wine,” he says, noting the difficulty in finding quality for $10 from U.S. producers. “And I think consumers have decided that wine is an integral part of their meal and they’re OK with paying a bit more for a quality bottle of wine.”

Among the other holiday wine trends this year:

? Rose is still popular, even though it’s not rose season. Wine.com is selling more rose than merlot, which is as welcome a development as it is hard to believe.

? “Customers are looking for wine recommendations that fit their palate, not just a generic ‘best pairing’ recommendation,” says Vorpagel. “I’m having more customers come in and say, ‘I don’t like pinot noir; what other reds will go with turkey?’ It’s great because people are getting more comfortable with their palate to say ‘I’m not going to drink something I don’t like just because an expert recommends it.’ ” That sound you hear is the Wine Curmudgeon’s sigh of pleasure.

? Oak is not going away, no matter how much I want it to. Those of you who like it are still buying it, and especially in chardonnay, and producers have launched several wines in the $15 to $20 range for these wine drinkers.

wine advice

Cheap holiday wine

cheap holiday wine

“Yes, but where did they hide the alcohol percentage?”

The Wine Curmudgeon was in august company earlier this month, helping several of the top restaurant wine people in Dallas pick cheap holiday wine for The Dallas Morning News’ regular wine feature. It was a fascinating experience, and not just because we found some terrific wine for the paper’s readers. Rather, I got to see wine from a different perspective — those who buy wine for restaurants, and where the cost of the wine isn’t as important as to them as it is to me.

Among the highlights of the tasting, which looked at wines costing less than $13 or so:

?The best wine of the tasting? A long-time member of the $10 Hall of Fame, the Chateau Bonnet white. The best red was also French, the Jaboulet Parall le 45 Rhone blend, and which tasted fresher and more interesting than the last time I had it.

? How much terrible cheap wine is there in the world? So much that even I was surprised, and I probably taste more crappy wine than almost anyone. Too many of the wines were embarrassments — no varietal character, fruitiness verging on sweetness for wines that weren’t supposed to be sweet, and flaws like unripe fruit and off aromas.

? Availability reared its ugly head more than once. One wine we wanted to recommend, the Zestos rose, didn’t make the final cut because the only Dallas retailer that carried it out was almost sold out. This, said several panelists, happens more often than not, depriving readers of quality wine. Also, there were too many old and worn out wines in the tasting, because Dallas retailers leave them on the shelf instead of dumping them for newer and fresher vintages.

? The restaurant perspective was fascinating. I evaluate wines by price — is there value for money? Hence, I don’t treat a $5 wine the same as I do a $50 wine; I expect more of the latter. The restaurant perspective, if not exactly the opposite, is about quality. Is it a quality wine to serve to their guests? If so, then they decide if it’s worth the money.

Finally, a tip o’ the WC’s fedora to my pal Tina Danze, who oversees the tastings, for asking me to participate. It was much fun, and I was flattered she wanted my cheap wine experience on the same panel with people like Paul Botamer, the wine director for Fearings at Dallas’ Ritz-Carlton.

winereview

Thanksgiving wine 2015

thanksgiving wineThis year’s “Why did they bother?” Thanksgiving wine press release offered two roses, costing $65 and $100, as the perfect holiday wines. We’ll ignore for the moment that the point of rose is to cost much less than that; rather, why would anyone need or want to pay that much money for wine for Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving is the greatest wine holiday in the world because it isn’t about money or showing off, but because it’s about being thankful that we can be together to enjoy the food and the wine.

Needless to say, my suggestions for Thanksgiving wine cost much less and almost certainly offer more value. Guidelines for holiday wine buying are here.

? King Estate Pinot Noir 2013 ($26, sample, 13.5%): I tasted this Oregon red at an American Wine Society dinner, where we also had a $160 California red. Guess which one I liked best? This is is not to take anything away from the California red, but to note the King Estate’s quality and value, and especially for pinot noir — lighter but with a touch of earthiness, cherry and raspberry fruit, and a wonderful food wine. Highly recommended.

? Pierre Sparr Cr mant d’Alsace Brut R serve NV ($18, sample, 12.5%): Sophisticated sparkling wine from France’s Alsace that got better the longer it sat in the glass, and which surprised me with its terroir and sophistication. Look for stoniness and minerality with ripe white fruit.

? Bonny Doon Le Pousseur 2013 ($26, sample, 13,5%): This California red is my favorite Randall Grahm wine, not necessarily because it’s better than any of the others, but because of what it is — syrah that somehow combines New World terroir with old world style. Lots of black fruit, soft tannins, and that wonderful bacon fat and earthy aroma that makes syrah so enjoyable.

?Domaine Fazi le De Beaut 2014 ($10, purchased, 11.5%): A Corsican rose made with a grape blend that includes sciaccarellu, the best known red on the French island. Maybe a touch thin on the back, but an otherwise more than acceptable rose with a little tart red fruit and that Mediterranean herbal aroma known as garrigue. And yes, I’d take 10 bottles of this over any $100 rose.

? Muga Rioja Blanco 2014 ($13, sample, 13%): Spanish white made with mostly viura has some oak, tropical fruit, and refreshing acidity, and why the Spanish don’t bother with chardonnay. Muga is one of my favorite Spanish producers, and almost everything it makes is affordable, well-done, and worth drinking.

More about Thanksgiving wine:
?Thanksgiving wine 2014

? Thanksgiving wine 2013
? Thanksgiving wine 2012

 

winereview

Labor Day wine 2015

Labor Day wine

Bring on the wine for some Labor Day porch sitting.

Four wines to enjoy for Labor Day weekend, as well as the Wine Curmudgeon’s annual appearance at the Kerrville Fall Music Festival to talk about Texas wine (and to hear live music in a most amazing setting) and my more than annual reminder: If your state makes wine, it’s about time to try it, or to buy another bottle if you’ve found one you like. Because drinking local matters more than ever.

Labor Day wines should be lighter, since the weather is warmer; refreshing, since you’re likely to enjoy them outdoors at a picnic or barbecue; and food friendly, because you’re probably going to drink them with a holiday dinner or lunch:

? L pez de Haro Rosado 2014 ($10, purchased, 12.5%): I bought this wine at an iffy retailer where most of the rose was overpriced or of questionable quality, and it didn’t disappoint. In other words, always trust in Spain. Look for red fruit, an undercurrent of minerality, and $10 worth of value.

? Garafoli Guelfo Verde 2013 ($10, purchased, 11.5%): This Italian white is fizzy — or frizzante, as the Italians call it. Hence, it comes with a soft drink bottle cap closure. Slightly sweet, but pleasantly so, with some lemon fruit. Serve chilled.

? Famillie Perrin C tes du Rh ne Villages 2012 ($12, purchased, 13.5%): French red blend with grenache, syrah, and mouvedre Solid, varietally correct Cotes du Rhone with more black fruit than i expected, some earthiness, and black pepper. Very food friendly.

? Trivento Chardonnay Amado Sur 2014 ($15, sample, 13.5%): This Argentine white blend is surprisingly crisp for a wine that is 70 percent chardonnay, but somehow has more pinot grigio qualities than either chardonnay or viognier, the third grape in the blend. Having said that, well done, mostly a value, and quite food friendly.

For more on Labor Day wine:
? Labor Day wine 2014
? Labor Day wine 2013
? Labor Day wine 2012
? Wine terms: Porch wine