Tag Archives: pinot grigio

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Mini-reviews 86: Meh wine edition

meh wineReviews 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. This month, meh wine — four wines you probably won’t want to buy.

Lindemans Bin 85 Pinot Grigio 2015 ($6, sample, 12.5%): $6 worth of pinot grigio in the cheap Italian style, more tonic water than anything else. It’s certainly drinkable for people who like this sort of thing, and in its own way an honest wine. But you can do much better for not much more money.

Rodney Strong Charlotte’s Home Sauvignon Blanc 2015 ($18, sample, 13.5%): Nicely done California white, as always, with varietal grassy character. But not for $18 (after a price increase from last year), and it’s not twice as enjoyable as a quality $10 sauvignon blanc or white Bordeaux.

Camino del Peregrino Albariño 2015 ($5, purchased, 12.5%): Spanish white is almost varietally correct, but there is almost nothing going on save some tart lemon. Certainly drinkable, but probably not worth buying again, even for $5.

Sauvignon Republic Cellars Sauvignon Blanc 2014 ($8, sample, 12.5%): Thinnish, simple, $8 grocery store white from New Zealand that is OK as long as you don’t have to pay any more for it. This is what’s left after the recession-induced collapse of the high quality Republic of Sauvignon Blanc label, and it’s not nearly the same thing.

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Mini-reviews 81: Estancia, malbec, Macon, Scarpetta

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

? Estancia Pinot Grigo 2014 ($9, purchased, 13.5%): This California white is another example of the deteriorating state of cheap wine. If you drank it when it was released almost a year ago, it had pleasant apple and tropical fruit and was certainly worth what it cost. Drink it almost a year after release, which I did, and the fruit is gone and what’s left is mostly pithy bitterness — the kind of wine people cite when they say they don’t like wine. Even $9 white wine should last 15 or 18 months.

? Pascual Toso Malbec 2014 ($8, purchased, 14%): This red is a decent enough grocery store Argentine malbec, without too much jammy berry fruit and a little rusticity for balance, though there is way too much fake oak. It’s not bad, but not as good as it could be.

? Louis Jadot M con-Villages 2014 ($10, purchased, 12.5%): This French white is everything the Estancia isn’t, and offers at least $10 worth of chardonnay. Look for green apple, a nicely rich mouth feel, and short if refreshing finish. It should be in most supermarkets in the country, so you have something to buy if all else fails.

? Scarpetta Timido NV ($17, purchased, 12%): This sweetish Italian rose sparkling wine has lots of strawberry and then some more sweetness, just like I remember from the bad old days. You can buy the same quality wine for half the price without any trouble at all.

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Mini-reviews 78: White Rioja, Peter Zemmer, Benoit Gautier, Mouton Cadet

white RiojaReviews 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.

? Dinast a Vivanco Rioja Blanco 2013 ($11, sample, 13.5%): Pleasant enough white Spanish blend from the Rioja region, with some white fruit and a hint of orange. We don’t see white Rioja much in the U.S., but the novelty isn’t enough of a reason to buy it and there are better wines for the same price.

? Peter Zemmer Pinot Grigio 2014 ($16, sample, 13.5%): Premiumization rears its ugly head. This Italian white isn’t appreciably better than any $8 grocery store pinot grigio, with the same bitter finish, tonic water taste profile, and little noticeable fruit.

? Benoit Gautier Vouvray 2013 ($13, sample, 12%): There were once a host of $10 well made and slightly sweet chenin blancs from the Vouvray region of France, but many of them aren’t as well made any more and aren’t $10, either. The Gautier almost fits the bill as one of the former, but there isn’t enough white fruit or acidity to back up the sweetness.

? Mouton Cadet Rose 2014 ($11, purchased, 13.5%): This French pink wine from the Bordeaux region is bitter, without much fruit, not very interesting, and very disappointing. It’s the kind of wine people drink and then switch to sweet tea.

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Wine of the week: Felluga Pinot Grigio 2014

felluga pinot grigioMichele Pasqua, the winemaker for Italy’s Marco Felluga, is passionate about Italian pinot grigio. “Most Americans don’t know what pinot grigio tastes like,” he says, “because 85 percent of the pinot grigio they taste is not pinot grigio.”

His example? The Felluga pinot grigio ($15, sample, 13%), which is mostly everything that the tonic water pinot grigios that are so popular in the U.S. aren’t. For one thing, it has fruit — lemon, and some lemon peel on the finish and just not the sort of almost minerality that is one of grocery store pinot grigio’s reason for being. For another, it smells good, as un-wine as that sounds, with an enticing, flowery aroma. This is wine, and not something devised to sell to American women of a certain demographic.

And, yes, it’s worth the couple of extra bucks. Chill this and drink it on its own, and you’ll smile at how much you enjoy it. It’s also a food wine; pair it with anything grilled that would pair with white wine — shrimp would be terrific, as would chicken thighs marinated in herbs, garlic, and olive oil.

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Mini-reviews 75: White wine for summer

white wine for summerReviews 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. Th month: white wine for summer.

? Josh Cellars Sauvignon Blanc 2014 ($10, purchased, 13.5%): The Josh Cellars reds are some of the best values in the world. Unfortunately, this California white is nowhere near as well made as the reds — thin, bitter, and stemmy, and what seems like fruit chosen to hit the price point and not to make better wine.

? Argento Chardonnay Reserva 2014 ($12, sample, 13.5%): Grocery store chardonnay from Argentina that demonstrates how Big Wine can turn ordinary grapes into something quite pleasant when it wants to. Look for white stone fruit and a hint of sweetness that balances everything out.

? Rodney Strong Charlotte’s Home Sauvignon Blanc 2014 ($15, sample, 13.5%): Consistent, well-made, varietally correct California sauvignon blanc that always offers value. Look for citrus and tropical flavors, but none that are overdone, and a clean finish. This may cost as little $12 or $13 in the grocery store, which is the time to buy several.

? Line 39 Pinot Grigio 2014 ($12, sample, 13%): One of the oddest wines I’ve ever tasted, with little pinot gris or pinot grigio character and more chardonnay flavor than anything else. But it’s 100 percent California pinot grigio, and without any added sugar despite a decidedly sweet feel to it. Go figure.

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Mini-reviews 66: Les Griottes, Ecco Domani, Rios de Chile, Rauzan Despagne

wine reviews ecco domaniReviews 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.

?Pierre-Marie Chermette Les Griottes 2013 ($19, purchased, 12%): Very pretty rose form Beaujolais made with gamay that has cranberry fruit and a hint of gamay’s grapiness. The catch, of course, is that it’s twice the price of a quality $10 rose without being anywhere close to twice as good. Hence, almost no reason to buy it.

? Ecco Domani Pinot Grigio 2013 ($12, sample, 12.5%): This Italian white, one of the leading grocery store pinot grigios, is neither good nor bad. It just is — traditional tonic water flavor blended with a sweet pear middle. Which is why it sells millions of cases. It’s overpriced at $12, but you’ll probably be able to find it for as little as $8 if you really want to.

? Rios de Chile Pinot Noir Reserva 2011 ($12, sample, 13.5%): Another competent, well-priced Chilean pinot noir that doesn’t have much to do with red Burgundy, but tastes more like pinot noir than its American cousins, the Mark Wests of the world. Simple but enjoyable, with some spice and berry fruit.

? Ch teau Rauzan Despagne Grand R serve 2011 ($10, purchased, 13.5%): Professional, French red blend from Bordeaux that is mostly merlot, with berry fruit and some earthiness. It’s a little thin through the middle, but that may be the wine getting old.

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Cupcake wine review 2014

Cupcake wine review 2014 ? Cupcake Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 ($9, purchased, 13.5%)

? Cupcake Pinot Grigio 2013 ($9, purchased, 12.5%)

Whenever the Wine Curmudgeon reviews Cupcake wines, I always end up writing as much about the brand and the company that owns Cupcake as I do about the wines. That’s because Cupcake may be the most fascinating wine brand in the world today, where what’s in the bottle doesn’t matter nearly as much as how the wine is marketed. It’s genius, actually, all those red velvet cake descriptors propelling the brand to national awareness without any help from the Winestream Media or scores.

Who else would have the nerve to market a wine called Chloe, with a suggested price of $17, targeting “weddings, birthdays and other celebratory gatherings” without any hint of what it tastes like? Or that calling it Chloe has more than a little to do with the name’s popularity for baby girls over the past decade?

Which doesn’t mean Cupcake wines are bad. They inhabit the region between the boring grocery store stuff and the best cheap wine. In this, think of the chain restaurant business, where Cupcake is an upscale steakhouse like Capital Grille or Fleming’s, and the rest of it is Red Lobster and Texas Roadhouse. The food is better at the former, but in the end it’s still chain food, and these wines, no matter how much Cupcake dresses them up, are still chain wines.

The cabernet, from California, is full, fruity, and almost balanced, with soft tannins, cherry fruit, and an odd sort of chocolate flavor. It’s not quite sweet, though the residual sugar is higher than in most red wines. It’s much better than I expected it to be, and certainly drinkable. If you’re going to make a focus group wine, this is the way to do it.

The Italian-made pinot grigio, on the other hand, is surprisingly disappointing, given how easy it is to make cheap, palatable pinot grigio. It’s oddly disjointed, with a dollop of sweet white fruit in the middle, a quality that doesn’t go with its traditional, Italian-style quinine approach that makes up the rest of the wine and is so popular among women of a certain age. My guess is that the dollop is there to sweeten the wine in line with Cupcake’s flavor profile, a winemaking trick that is cheaper or easier or more legal than adding sugar.

So one yes and one no. Assuming, of course, you can’t find a better $10 wine, which isn’t all that difficult. The labels just aren’t as much fun to read.

For more on Cupcake wine:
? Cupcake wine review 2013
? Cupcake wine review 2012