Tag Archives: pinot grigio


Mini-reviews 57: Bonterra, Carlos Pulenta, Da Luca, Tormaresca

Mini-reviews 57: Bonterra, Carlos Pulenta, Da Luca, TormarescaReviews 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.

? Bonterra Zinfandel 2011 ($16, sample, 14.5%): More old-style zinfandel than new, with brambly black fruit and alcohol in balance instead of a fruit-infused cocktail that makes you reach for a glass of water after a sip and a half. Another winner in my recent zinfandel streak, and a treat to drink.

? Carlos Pulenta Malbec Tomero 2011 ($15, sample, 14%): Fairly-priced Argentine red that doesn’t have too much black fruit — which means it’s drinkable and not syrupy — and somehow manages to be mostly balanced. A very pleasant surprise.

? Da Luca Pinot Grigio 2012 ($13, sample, 12%): Disjointed pinot grigio with requisite tonic water at back but also weird fruit in the middle, almost tropical. Not much better than grocery store pinot grigio but at almost twice the price.

? Tormaresca Chardonnay 2012 ($9, purchased, 12%): How the mighty have fallen. This white, like the Tormaresca Neprica, used to be value-priced quality wine. Now, it has just one note — lots of what tastes like cheap fake oak, with very little fruit or interest. Very disappointing.


Mini-reviews 55: The nothing really wrong with it, but … edition

Reviews of wines that don ?t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another — in this case, because there’s nothing really wrong with them, but you can do better. Look for it on the final Friday of each month.

? Clos du Bois Pinot Grigio 2012 ($9, purchased, 13.5%): This California white is just another pinot grigio, without any redeeming features other than that it’s cheap and inoffensive. Nothing really wrong with it, but there are lots of other wines that offer more for the price.

? Haury & Schaeffer Grenache 2012 ($10, sample, 14%): French red tastes like it came from California ? all fruit and not much else. Nothing really wrong with it, but not sure what the point of it is since there are already hundreds of wines just like it.

? Bolla Prosecco Extra Dry NV ($12, sample, 11%): Italian sparkling wine took me back to a 1970s wedding, when the bubbly was sweetish, didn’t bubble much, and tasted a lot like 7-Up. Nothing really wrong with it, if that’s what you’re looking for — and many people are.

? Reata Chardonnay 2012 ($20, sample, 14.3%): Early 2000s-style California white wine with a national forest full of oak and more alcohol than it needs, but nothing really wrong with it for people who still like that sort of thing.


Mini-reviews 54: Beaujolais Nouveau, Cousino-Macul, McManis, 14 Hands

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.

? Georges Dub uf Beaujolais Nouveau 2013 ($8, purchased, 12%): Much better this vintage — less banana and more oomph, including acidity that hasn’t been there for several years. It’s still not as grapey as it should be, but decent enough cheap wine. Good to see that this annual tradition is worth buying again.

? Cousi o-Macul Cabernet Sauvignon Antiguas Reservas 2010 ($17, sample, 14%). Chilean red has more in common with California Central Coast style, meaning lots of juicy black fruit and a little herbal aroma, than it does with many Chilean wines.

? McManis Viognier 2012 ($12, purchased, 13.5%): Oily, very fruity (peaches?), and a little bitter on the back — decent enough, but not near the quality of the rest of McManis’ wines. California and viognier continue to be a difficult combination.

? 14 Hands Hot to Trot White 2010 ($10, purchased, 13%): Nowhere near the quality of the 14 Hands red blend, this Washington state effort has an unpleasant finish and is uneven and disjointed, with an odd fruitiness. Very disappointing.

What’s new with pinot grigo?

What's new with pinot grigo?

It’s simple in taste and cheap in price; hence the American love of pinot grigio.

Quite a lot actually, as a story I wrote for the Beverage Media trade magazine explains. This is not to say that pinot grigio itself has changed much. It remains a cheap, simple white wine preferred by women of a certain age, and the mostly Italian imports that dominate the category sell millions and millions of cases without much of an effort.

Rather, there is an on-going campaign by producers and importers to get Americans to look differently at pinot grigio, whether it ?s Oregon and California pinot gris such as J, which a little more expensive and has more fruit, or Italian wines in the $12 to $15 range like Bollini and Alois Lageder.

The story ?s highlights, after the jump:

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Fourth of July wine 2013

Fourth of July wine 2013

I’m drinking a less alcoholic, less tannic red wine because it’s hot out. But I can’t show my face, because that’s not a manly wine choice.

It ?s hot. It ?s sticky. So how many of you will drink the biggest, most tannic, most alcoholic red wine possible to celebrate July 4?

Which, of course, is fine with the Wine Curmudgeon, since I believe that everyone should drink what they want, and rules be damned. But, if you don ?t mind a suggestion, live dangerously. Try something lighter and, dare I say, more pleasurable ? a porch wine, even. Because the only thing I ask is that wine drinkers be willing to try something different.

Which leads to these suggestion, after the jump:

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Wine of the week: J Winery Pinot Gris 2012

J Pinot Gris 2012I just finished a trade magazine story about pinot grigio, detailing what people are drinking, why they ?re drinking it, and what ?s in the grape ?s future. One of the editor ?s instructions: Make sure to include the J pinot gris in the story.

It ?s easy to see why. The J ($15, sample, 13.8%) is one of the great wine success stories of the past five or six years ? a very well made, reasonably priced wine that does exactly what it is supposed to do.

Pinot grigio and pinot gris are the same grape; the difference in name points to a difference in style. Pinot grigios, mostly Italian, have little fruit and a minerally finish, while pinot gris, like those from Alsace and Oregon, are fruitier.

The J is somewhere in the middle. Look for some lime fruit in the front and a peach pit sort of finish, but there is more to the wine than a wine writer’s description. This is not a simple, full fruit ahead wine. Rather, it ?s about as long and elegant as a wine at this price gets, one that you sip and and then, suddenly, notice that the bottle is empty.

Serve chilled, on its own or with summer food (and especially if your air conditioning goes out just as the Texas summer is beginning). Highly recommended.

Wine of the week: Bollini Pinot Grigio 2011

 Bollini Pinot Grigio 2011The Wine Curmudgeon doesn ?t trust Italian pinot grigio. Since it ?s a wine that people who don ?t drink much wine drink, a lot of pinot grigio producers feel it ?s their duty to foist poorly-made, over-priced wine off on them. Some of the samples I get are so awful that I pour them down the drain after the first couple of sips (with loud muttering under my breath).

So I haven ?t done an Italian pinot grigio review in two years, and an Italian pinot grigio has never been a wine of the week.

Until now.The Bollini ($12, purchased) is everything the rest of those wines aren ?t. It ?s reasonably priced. It doesn ?t taste like rubbing alcohol. Even more amazingly, it ?s varietally correct. There are aromas of flower blossoms, just enough apple and pear fruit to be recognizable, and bit of minerality (and not turpentine) on the finish. Serve this chilled, either on its own or with almost any light summer dish. It would also go with pasta and seafood. I’d even buy it again.

This is the kind of wine that people who don ?t drink wine would love; if you know someone like that, tell them about it. To be honest, I ?m not quite sure why I bought the Bollini. I guess I was feeling guilty about my attitude toward pinot grigio given that one of my goals for the blog this year has been to be more accessible to non-wine drinkers. I took one for the team, and I ?m glad I did.