Category:Red wine

Three Australian winemakers, part II

This is the second of two parts about selected Australian wine and winemakers. The first part is here.

In one respect, Rosemount, Robert Oatley Vineyards, and Jacob ?s Creek/Orlando are completely different companies. The first is part of a huge multi-national, the second was formed not to be a huge multi-national, and the third is the high-end label for a huge multi-national.

But what they have in common is a willingness to make something other than shiraz that blasts away at your senses ? and they aren ?t shy about saying that. That ?s a most welcome development.

Here ?s a sample of some of their most interesting wines:

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Wine review: Menage a Trois Red 2007

image The menage (about $10), from Folie a Deux, is a very confusing wine, which has nothing to do with its double entendre marketing. It ?s a red blend from California that isn ?t heavy, tannic or alcoholic, which is so rare as to be worth mentioning. And the wine is supposed to have been aged in oak, but I ?ll be damned if I could taste it. In fact, it tasted like a steel-aged Beaujolais.

Plus, it ?s cheap and tasty. The blend of zinfandel, cabernet sauvignon and merlot is quite approachable, quite jammy and even juicy. It ?s a style of wine that ?s almost old-fashioned in California, harkening back to the days before Wine Magazines and point scores. Drink this with barbecue, fall picnic food like grilled corn on the cob, or even takeout pizza.

Wine of the week: Reds 2006

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One of the few good reasons for using corks to close wines was when Reds had pictures of famous Bolsheviks on its corks. The Wine Curmudgeon still  has some Lenin and Trotsky corks in a drawer somewhere.

Reds (about $9) is a screw top these days, but the wine remains true to its mission ?  a cheap, quality red wine blend that ?s food friendly. It ?s a little more fruit forward and raspberry jammy than it used to be, but it ?s still a well-made wine that offers considerable value and deserves $10 Hall of Fame consideration. I drank it with roast chicken, and it would also do well with hamburgers, grilled sausages and spaghetti and meatballs.

Mandola Estate Winery

image This is one of an occasional series detailing Texas wineries. The complete list is here.

What does one make of Mandola, which is not only Texas' first celebrity winery, but one of its newest and most costly to build? Visit on a Saturday afternoon, and it's a foodie Disney World, packed with people touring the winery and crowding the restaurant.

Complicating the issue is that Mandola, named for Damian Mandola of Carrabba's restaurant fame, has had some problems in its first couple of years in business. First and foremost, illness forced winemaker Mark Penna to take a leave of absence in 2008, and the winery has been making do without him for much of this year.

Fortunately, consulting winemaker Greg Harrington is one of the best in the business, and most of the the wines are doing what they're supposed to be doing.

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Green wine, part II: How does it taste?

This is the second of two parts looking at green wine and environmentally friendly ways to produce and package wine. Part I, which discussed the concept of green wine, is here.

It all depends, and the Wine Curmudgeon is not trying to be flip. Wine that is produced and packaged to be environmentally friendly faces the same obstacles that non-green wine does. It has to made with quality fruit and it has to be made by a quality winemaker. Otherwise, you ?re drinking plonk. Poorly made white zinfandel isn ?t going to taste any better in packaging that reduces its carbon footprint.

That said, there are green wines that offer quality and value (and, for the purposes of this post, green wine includes organic wine and wine produced to have a low carbon footprint):

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Labor Day wines

This may be the most difficult holiday to pair with wine — not so much because of the food, but because of the weather. It can be cool. It can be hot. Those conditions can dictate the wine, since you really don’t want to drink a 16.5 percent zinfandel if it’s 100 degrees out, or a light white if you had to move the picnic indoors because it’s chilly and raining.

The solution? Light red wines.

Keep these in mind. (And, if you don’t mind a shameless plug, the Wine Curmudgeon will be on a panel this weekend at the Kerrville Wine & Music Festival discussing this very subject). This style of wine is versatile enough to go with most outdoor food, from barbecue to chicken and maybe even grilled shrimp, and they ?re fruity and low enough in alcohol so that you won ?t start sweating after one sip.

Becker Vineyard Prairie Roti 2007 ($17) This Rhone blend (mourvedre, grenache, syrah, and carignan) is an excellent example of what Texas winemakers can do with grapes that aren’t cabernet sauvignon and merlot. One caveat: The roti has limited availability outside of Texas.

Beauzeaux Red 2005 ($10). I’ve never been able to figure out why this isn’t huge. It’s fruity, it’s food friendly, and it’s cheap. Plus, it has a cute label. But it has never taken off, despite glowing reviews.

Layer Cake Cotes du Rhone 2007 ($16). A red blend from France made by an American. It has more fruit than a French-made Cotes du Rhone, which makes it ideal for this purpose.

Wine review: Chateaux La Croix Chantecaille 2005

image Some of the most overpriced wine in the world comes from Bordeaux, thanks to the weak dollar, wine snobs, and speculators. (Yes, people speculate in wine, just like they do real estate and pork bellies). So when the Wine Curmudgeon finds a red Bordeaux that ?s more or less a value, it ?s something to write about.

I found Chateaux La Croix Chantecaille (about $29)when I was putting together a Two Wine Guys event (shameless plug alert) as a birthday present for someone who wanted to do Bordeaux. We did three wines, all terrific, but this was the only one that was worth the money.

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