Tag Archives: holiday wine

July-4th-Fireworks-in-San-Jose

Fourth of July wine 2015

Fourth of July wineWhat do many of us do when we celebrate a birthday? Drink wine, of course, whether it’s for a toast or for a birthday dinner. So why not do the same thing when the United States celebrates its birthday?

Best yet, the Fourth of July is a terrific porch wine holiday, a concept that doesn’t get enough attention in our rush to drink as much heavy, over-oaked, and too much alcohol wine because our wine betters tell us we’re supposed to.

So consider these wines as a starting point for your July 4 celebration (and all with a July 4 connection):

Listel Grain de Gris Rose 2014 ($12, purchased, 12.5%): This very pale rose, from Camargue in Van Gogh country in the south of France, is unlike almost any French rose I’ve ever had. There’s freshness and lots of soft strawberry fruit, but it’s not crisp or tart. Having said that, it’s still fun to drink, and the bottle is gone before you realize it. And, of course, we wouldn’t have won the Revolutionary War without French money, troops, and ships.

Mumm Napa Brut Prestige NV ($20, purchased, 12.5%): Tried and true California sparkler with firm bubbles and apple and citrus fruit — and is widely available. Price isn’t bad, either, given how ridiculous most Champagne prices are.

Pedroncelli Sauvignon Blanc 2014 ($14, sample, 13.4%): This California white is only going to get better with age, and it’s well done now — aromatic grassiness and some citrus, plus clean, crisp, and a solid finish.

Baron Amarillo Rioja Reserva 2010 ($10, purchased, 13.5%): This Spanish tempranillo — Spain being another important U.S. ally in 1776 — has lots of oak and cherry fruit in some sort of balance, though not as subtle as more expensive reservas. Still, better than most of the world’s $10 wine, and just what you want for a July 4 barbecue.

More Fourth of July wine:
Fourth of July wine 2014
Fourth of July wine 2013
Fourth of July wine 2012
Wine of the week: Josep Masachs Resso 2013

Fathers-Day-slider

Father’s Day wine 2015

Father's day wine 2015The Wine Curmudgeon got a bunch of emails over the past couple of weeks extolling various studies about what dads want for Father’s Day, who buys dad his Father’s Day present, and the most common Google searches for Father’s Day gifts. Most of which was a lot of effort for nothing, because everyone here knows that Father’s Day wine 2015 is the ultimate gift.

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. ?

Suggestions for Father ?s Day wine 2015:

? Tintonegro Malbec Uco Valley 2012 ($14, sample, 14%): Know how too much Argentine malbec tastes like dark-flavored grape juice? Not this one, which was among the highlights of my El Centro wine class tastings. Look for dark fruit and more freshness than I thought possible in a malbec. Highly recommended (steaks on the grill), and a steal at this price.

? Jolie Folle Rose 2014 ($10/1-liter bottle, purchased, 12.5%): The ultimate porch rose, in that this French pink wine is simple enough (sort of lemony-cranberry fruit) to be enjoyable and offers a couple of extra glasses because of the bigger bottle at the smaller bottle price.

? Cruz de Piedra Blanco 2014 ($9, purchased, 13%): I suppose there are some crappy cheap Spanish wines to be found, but I’ve yet to find one yet. This white, made with macabeo, usually useed for cava, offers some of the Spanish bubbly’s fruit flavor (lemony-apple?) and a wonderful freshness — and somehow, once, got 86 points from the Wine Spectator. Serve chilled on its own or with any grilled seafood or even brats.

? Los Dos 2013 ($8, purchased, 14%): This Spanish red blend, with garnacha and syrah, never fails to amaze me, and this vintage is even better than the 2012 (which was terrific). Lots of red fruit from the garnacha, and the syrah adds some heft and balance.

More about Father ?s Day wine:
? Father ?s Day wine 2014
? Father ?s Day wine 2013
? Wine of the week: Josep Masachs Resso 2013
? Expensive wine 73: Pierre-Marie Chermette Fleurie Ponci 2013

wine of week

Wine of the week: Kon Tiki Merlot 2014

kon tiki merlotMichael Franz, who judged the flight of $15 and under merlots at the Critics Challenge with me last month, was even less optimistic abut finding quality wine among the nine entries than I was. And regular visitors here know how the Wine Curmudgeon feels about $10 grocery store merlot.

So if Michael was happy, then you know the wine was worth drinking. We gave six medals, including a platinum to the Chilean Kon Toki merlot ($12, sample, 13.2%) — easily one of the best grocery store merlots I’ve had in years. It tasted like merlot and not a chocolate cherry cocktail, with almost unheard of depth and subtlety. Look for a black currant aroma followed by black fruit and very correct tannins that weren’t harsh or off, but complemented the fruit.

This is the kind of wine to buy by the case and keep around the house when you want a glass of red wine that does what red wine is supposed to do, and that doesn’t offend you with too much fruit, bitterness, or oak. Drink it on its own, or with any weeknight red wine dinner, from meat loaf to takeout pizza. Dad probably wouldn’t mind a bottle, either, if he needs something for Father’s Day.

Highly recommended, and a candidate for the $10 Wine Hall of Fame if I can find it for that price. The only catch? The importer lists distributors in 33 states and the District of Columbia, but many of them are small and may not have enough clout to get the wine on store shelves.

winereview

Expensive wine 75: John Duval Plexus 2011

plexus 2011John Duval is a legend in the Australian wine business, someone who made some of the greatest wines in the country’s history when he worked for Penfolds and who has produced consistently outstanding wine on his own since leaving Penfolds in 2003. His wines are an example of the best of Australia, blending terroir, craftsmanship, and that sixth sense that the best winemakers have about what should go where.

The Plexus 2011 ($39, sample, 14%) is a red blend that does all of that, combining shiraz, grenache, and mouvedre to produce a wine that is somehow both powerful and sophisticated, soft and structured, cultured and free-spirited. In this, it does what so much great wine does, marry what seem to be contradictions to produce something greater than the whole.

Look for lots of berry aromas, followed by ripe but not quite jammy blackberry and cherry fruit and some spice and black pepper. That the alcohol is so low for an Australian wine speaks to Duval’s respect for terroir and to work with what the grapes gave in a cool vintage, rather than to force high alcohol to please critics. Not surprisingly, the 2011 Plexus only got 89 points from the Wine Advocate, about what it gives very ordinary $15 California chardonnay.

Highly recommended and a steal at this price, especially given how much junk is for sale that costs more than $40 and gets 94 points. We tasted this in my El Centro class, and the students were flabbergasted that this style of wine could be this delicious and taste so completely different from anything they had tasted before.

This is a Father’s Day gift for anyone who loves red wine and wants to take a step forward in understanding how wine can be different depending on where it’s from. Serve this with any red meat or Father’s Day barbecue.


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winereview

Mother’s Day wine 2015

Mother's Day wineMother’s Day wine is about options: wine for a gift, wine for brunch, or wine for dinner? Fortunately, the Wine Curmudgeon has all possibilities covered, as well as the most important piece of advice when it comes wine gift giving. you ?re buying someone a gift they will like, and not a gift that you think they should like because you know more about wine than they do. In other words, if Mom likes sweet red, then buy her the best sweet red you can afford, and don’t worry about the wine police.

These wines are a start on covering most of the eventualities:

? Vinum Cellars Sparkling Chenin Blanc NV ($18, sample, 12.5%): Delicious bubbly that shows what a top-notch California producer can do with the charmat method and the Wine Curmudgeon’s beloved chenin blanc. The wine is slighty sweet, with fine bubbles, lime fruit, and even a bit of spice. This is Mother’s Day brunch wine, and if it is a touch pricey, it is for Mom.

? Ch teau Sainte Marie Vieilles Vignes 2011 ($15, sample, 13.5%): Varietally correct right bank Bordeaux, which means earthy, jammy black fruit, smooth tannins, and a merlot sort of finish — not long, but round and full. If you’re planning a barbecue or informal dinner, this French red will make Mom happy.

? Ch teau Sainte Marguerite C tes de Provence 2013 ($18, sample, 12%): Gorgeous onion skin rose from Provence in France that’s worth the price, one of the best roses I’ve tasted in years. Look for fresh red fruit to complement the orange-ish color; what the French call garrigue, an almost herbal aroma; and a very long finish.

? Domaine F lines Jourdan Picpoul 2013 ($10, sample, 13%): White wine from southern France with the picpoul grape’s trademark tart lemon as well as something softer — peach? — in the middle. This is about as well made as $10 picpoul gets, and is a candidate for the 2016 $10 Hall of Fame. Let Mom sip it on the porch while she enjoys her holiday.

wine of week

Wine of the week: Vega Barcelona Cava Brut Seleccion NV

Vega BarcelonaOne of the great joys in doing the blog is when I find a wine my mom likes. She’ll print the post, take it to her local retailer, he will compliment her on her good taste, and she will boast about her son. So, for Mother’s Day, the Vega Barcelona cava. Enjoy, mom,

This has been a wonderful year for cava, the Spanish sparkling wine, and the Vega Barcelona ($15, sample, 11.5%) is no exception. We tasted it when we did Spanish wine at my El Centro class, and even the students who only liked sweet wine liked this one. That’s because it gave the impression of sweetness — honey and ripe pear aromas — while tasting bone dry, with some green apple and citrus flavors. The bubbles were tight and the wine was crisp and fresh, two other hallmarks of quality.

How well done is this wine? One of the wine magazines gave it the ultimate backhanded compliment: “… a decent amount of elegance for a $15 wine.”

Highly recommended, and worth the extra $5 it costs compared to other cavas — even if it wasn’t for Mother’s Day. Pair this with most anything for a Mother’s Day brunch or just to toast Mom.

wine news

Winebits 372: Valentine’s Day wine 2015

Valentine's Day wineA look at Valentine’s Day wine suggestions from around the Internet, because the Wine Curmudgeon doesn’t want to do it himself, given this is The Holiday That Must Not be Named:

? From a supermarket: HEB, the Texas grocery store chain that is one of the largest independents in the country, focuses on sweet and cute, including chocolate-flavored wine. I’m not sure there is anything here I would recommend, but the Wine Curmudgeon is not the target demographic for this post. Also note how the post uses descriptors that focus on sweet, like candied fruit. Anyone who wants to know why sweet red wine has become such a cash cow need only look here.

? From a wine magazine: Decanter, the British equivalent of the Wine Spectator, sticks to sparkling wine, but includes cava and Prosecco, including “10 great value Cavas” and English sparkling wine. The point here is not whether these wines are available in the U.S., but that the editors understand not everyone wants to spend $200 on a bottle of Champagne. Would that wine magazines in this country took the same approach. My favorite pick? The Jansz sparkling from Tasmania, about $20, which I drank on New Year’s as part of my Champagne boycott.

? From a financial news website: The Street runs a lot of wine-related items; why is anyone’s guess. But most of it is solid information, and its choice of 11 Valentine’s Day wines is more of the same. The 11 wines are mostly white, mostly quality (though not always easy to find), and mostly around $40. Having said that, the Marcel LaPierre from Morgon in Beaujolais, about $30, is an impressive recommendation.