Category:Holiday wine

Mother’s Day wine 2018

Mother's Day wine 2018Four suggestions — red, white, rose, and sparkling — for Mother’s Day wine 2018

This Mother’s Day wine 2018 post is the 12th time we’ve done it on the blog, and one thing has remained consistent every year. Buy — or serve — Mom a wine she will like, and not something you think she should drink. Our Mother’s Day wine gift giving guidelines are here; the idea is to please your mother. What’s the point otherwise?

These Mother’s Day wine 2018 suggestions should get you started:

Arrumaco Verdejo 2016 ($8, purchased, 12%): A Spanish white that is a little richer than expected (more stone fruit than citrus), and as well made as all Arrumaco wines are. Imported by Hand Picked Selections

Scharffenberger Cellars Excellence Brut Rose NV ($24, purchased, 12%): This California sparking wine is impressive in many ways — the very aromatic raspberry fruit; the hint of spice that is a surprising and welcome note; and just the right amount of yeastiness, which lets the fruit show. Highly recommended.

Justin Rose 2017 ($18, sample, 13%): A California pink that is one of the shockers of rose season — a pricer wine from a winery best known for big red wine that is intriguing, almost subtle and delightful. Not nearly as fruity as I expected (barely ripe raspberry), with a little minerality and floral aroma. Highly recommended.

Domaine de Courbissac Les Traverses 2015 ($15, sample, 13%): This French red blend is delicious, and it’s even more delicious if you can find it for $12 (and it’s only about $9 in France). Mom wouldn’t want you to overpay. Look for some earth, a little rusticity, and black fruit. Imported by European Cellars

More about Mother’s Day wine:
Mother’s Day wine 2017
Mother’s Day wine 2016
Mother’s Day wine 2015
Two Murrieta’s Well wines

Wine of the week: De Chanceny Cremant de Loire Brut NV

De Chanceny CremantThe De Chanceny Cremant offers Mother ‘s Day quality at a more than fair price

Sparkling wine value has been pounded by premiumization, as more bubbly costs more money even though it’s not necessarily worth it. This has been a particular problem with French sparkling that isn’t Champagne. These wines, from Burgundy and the Loire in particular, are called cremant to distinguish them from Champagne, and they’re made with local grapes. But they’re made using the same methode champenoise technique and be quite well done.

These cremants used to cost as little as $15 and offer $20 or $25 worth of value. Today, many of them cost $25 but taste like they did when they were $10 less.

The De Chanceny Crémant ($15, purchased, 12.5%) is an exception. It’s professionally made sparkling wine, with chenin blanc lemon fruit and hint of softness that is common in cremant from the Loire. But there is also a bit of chardonnay and cabernet franc to offer structure and a little depth so it’s more than soft and sweetish. Hence, a dry wine with tight, poppy bubbles and just enough acidity to make it sparkle in the mouth.

This is Mother’s Day brunch wine at a more than fair price. Serve it chilled, and enjoy with scrambled eggs, quiche, or anything Mom likes.

Imported by Signature Imports

Expensive wine 108: Patrick Baudouin Savennieres 2014

Patrick Baudouin SavennieresThe Patrick Baudouin Savennieres shows why chenin blanc should be one of the world’s great wine grapes

Chenin blanc may be the least respected grape in the wine world. In California, it’s used to make sweet, white jug wine or a treacly varietal. Even in France, where it’s best known for Vouvray, the wines can be dull and too soft.

This has always baffled me. Chenin blanc can make amazing wine – fresh, crisp and almost steely. I’ve annoyed any number of winemakers over the years, asking: “Why don’t you do chenin blanc?” after tasting their very ordinary and overpriced chardonnay from a part of the world that doesn’t need to be making chardonnay.

Which bring us to the Patrick Baudouin Savennieres ($40, purchased, 13.5%), a chenin blanc that demonstrates the grape’s potential. The Savennieres region is in the Loire in central France, not as well known as nearby Vouvray and overshadowed by the Loire’s reputation for some of the world’s best sauvignon blanc, made in Sancerre.

The Patrick Baudouin Savennieres shows none of this need be true. It’s classic Savennieres – rich and full in the mouth, but not oily or oaky. In fact, this wine could be used to teach how to do oak. There isn’t much fruit at all (maybe barely ripe pear?), but there is that wonderful Savennieres nuttiness and minerality as well as white pepper and an almost clove something or other. Plus, like all great wines from the region, it will age – maybe 10 more years.

Highly recommended, and especially for any Mother’s Day celebration where Mom wants something a little different. Drink this chilled, but open it 30 or 40 minutes before you drink it.

Wine review: Two Murrieta’s Well wines

Murrieta’s Well winess

Two Murrieta’s Well wines – The Spur and the Whip – are a reminder that top-notch California wine doesn’t have to be expensive and boring

The Wine Curmudgeon has rarely been disappointed by Murrieta’s Well wine for more than 20 years. In the old days, when $20 was a lot of money and not something to spend because it was trendy, I would happily pay it for Murrieta’s Well.

How impressive is the the current incarnation, powered by new winemaker Robbie Meyer and a renewed commitment from the label’s owner, Wente Vineyards? It may be the best yet – and costs about the same, too.

The Spur 2015 ($20, sample, 14.5%) is a red blend that’s almost one-half cabernet sauvignon, but not dominated by it. Most importantly, despite the higher alcohol, the wine isn’t hot but balanced between dark, ripe black fruit, just enough sweet oak, supple tannins, and a wonderfully fragrant baking spice aroma.

The Whip 2016 ($18, sample, 13.5%) is a white blend with orange muscat, a grape that is difficult to work with and tends to overpower everything else. Here, though, it lends the tiniest hint of an orange aroma, which plays off the citrus of the sauvignon blanc, green apple of the chardonnay, and stone fruit of the viognier. And, somehow, the wine is floral, crisp and fresh.

How Meyer got these wines to taste like this – elegant and enjoyable – speaks to his talent and commitment to the cause. Because he is a believer; we tasted these at a media lunch, and Meyer and I probably spent too much time lamenting the sad state of $25 wine – soft, sappy, almost sweet, and tasting exactly the same.

Both wines are highly recommended, and offer value as well as quality. Serve these for a Mother’s Day brunch or dinner – the white would pair with eggs Benedict or a rich and cheesy quiche, while the red is ideal for roast beef and leg of lamb.

New Year’s sparkling wine 2017

New Year's sparkling wine 2017Four New Year’s sparkling wine 2017 recommendations that combine value and quality

Champagne, the sparkling wine from the Champagne region of France, has returned to the blog this year for New Year’s sparkling wine 2017. The good news is that I found some that weren’t the same old stuff and are worth drinking. The bad news is that it’s almost impossible to find quality Champagne for less than $35.

Having said that, there is still lots of value in the blog’s New Year’s sparkling wine 2017 suggestions. This includes California bubbly, usually overpriced but where prices have become almost reasonable. That’s because of grocery store wine sales; the competition they offer has lowered prices.

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

Monistrol Seleccion Especial Brut NV ($9, purchased, 11.5%): This Spanish sparkler shows cava’s greatness and ability to deliver value. It’s less than $10, and you’d never know tasting it blind. Look for bright red apple fruit, pleasing acidity, and a softish finish.

Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut NV ($16, purchased, 12.5%): This California sparkler is one of the world’s great bubbly values — always fresh, always consistent, always enjoyable. Look for lemon and green apple flavors, some stone fruit aromas, and a creamy finish with very tight bubbles. Highly recommended.

Astoria Prosecco NV ($12, sample, 11%): This is one of the best Italian sparkling wines — more than just sweet and soft. Look for lemon and apple fruit, enough sweetness to make you wonder if it is sweet, soft but long-lasting bubbles, and even a sort of minerally finish, which is completely unexpected.

Champagne Collet Brut NV ($39, sample, 12.5%): This is priced like entry-level Champagne, but the quality is much more than that. It’s classic in style, with the brioche aroma, citrus fruit, and a little caramel in the finish. Very well done for the price.

More on New Year’s sparkling wine
New Year’s sparkling wine 2016
New Year’s sparkling wine 2015
New Year’s sparkling wine 2014
Wineof the week: Francois Montand Brut Rose NV
Wine of the week: Juve y Camps Brut Rose NV

Wine of the week: Segura Viudas Brut Reserva NV

segura viudasThe Seugra Viudas cava shows that $9 can buy top-flight sparkling wine for the New Year’s holiday

The blog is more than a decade old, and I’ve been writing about wine for more than twice that long. In all that time, the Segura Viudas cava ($9, purchased, 12%) has never let me down. How often can one say that about wine?

This Spanish sparkling wine, made with the three traditional cava grapes — no pinot noir or chardonnay, thank you — has aways offered  more value than its cost. A lot more value. That it has done so for more than 20 years reminds me that not everyone who makes wine chases scores and trends or charges higher prices just because. Some, like the Ferrer family and its Segura Viudas cava, understand that  wine quality matters the most. If you do that, the rest falls into place.

This would be terrific wine even if it cost $15, and is just the bubbly for New Year’s sipping, toasting, and brunch — bone dry, with tart green apple flavor that is balanced by a little tropical fruit, the yeastiness that you expect from more expensive Champagne-style wines, and delightful bubbles. In this, the mark of great sparkling wine, no matter where it’s from or how much it costs, are the bubbles — tiny, compact, streaming to the top of the glass. You can get those bubbles in Dom Perignon for $200, or you can get them here for $9.

Highly recommended, as always, and it will take its place in the 2018 $10 Hall of Fame next.

Mini-reviews 104: Maybe Christmas wine, maybe not

christmasReviews 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. This month: Maybe Christmas wine, maybe not

Le Petite Frog Picpoul 2016 ($30/3-liter box, purchased, 12.5%): I really wanted to like this French white, made with the picpoul grape. But all it did was make me appreciate the Rene Barbier white that much more. The La Petite Frog is pleasant enough, with soft lemon fruit, but could be fresher and more lively; at the equivalent of $7.50 a bottle, it’s not two bucks a bottle better than the Barbier. Imported by Kysela Pere et Fils.

Norton Malbec Reserva 2014 ($16, sample, 13.5%): Premiumized grocery store red from Argentina that is about as boring as possible, and with entirely too much oak (even if I liked a lot of oak). It is focus group wine, made for the Cellar Tracker user who wrote: “Nice, smooth and very drinkable, especially at this price point.” Imported by Guarchi Wine Partners.

Seaglass Pinot Noir Rosé 2016 ($10, purchased, 12.5%): This California grocery store pink was more than I expected, with barely ripe strawberry fruit and surprising freshness instead of the cloying, almost sweet quality, that some of these wines have. It’s a little thin on the back, and not quite up to a wine of the week, but you won’t be unhappy by buying it.

Tenuta Marsiliana Maremma Toscana 2012 ($32, sample, 14%): This Italian red, a Super Tuscan heavy on the cabernet sauvignon and merlot, is professionally made, but doesn’t suffer from being more New World than Old in an attempt to get 92 points. Look for more black fruit and less acidity than in a traditional Tuscan red, but it does have that earthy finish and elegant tannins. Highly recommended, but availability may be limited.