Category:Sparkling wine

Wine of the week: Graham Beck Cap Classique Brut NV

Graham Beck Cap ClassiqueThe Graham Beck Cap Classique Brut is a South African sparkler that specializes in quality and value

South Africa’s Graham Beck sparkling wines have long offered value and quality. But like many South African wines, availability has sometimes been a problem. That has especially been the case in the past couple of years, no doubt because premiumization made them seem too cheap and consolidation made it more difficult to get them on store shelves.

So it was with great joy that I scooped up the Graham Beck Cap Classique Brut ($15, purchased, 12%) when I found it on a store shelf. Sparkling wine at this price does not get much better, even if it’s one of my beloved cavas.

Look for tight bubbles, enough fruit so that it’s noticeable (green apples and lemon?), some minerality, and just enough creaminess for people who like that sort of thing in their sparkling wine. Even better, it doesn’t have any of the things that too many bubblies at this price pass off as acceptable – extra sweetness, a bitter finish, and big, sloppy bubbles.

Highly recommended, and especially with The Holiday that Must Not be Named taking place next week. A candidate for the 2022 Hall of Fame, and almost worth considering, despite the price, for the 2022 Cheap Wine of the Year.

Imported by Beck Family Estates

Expensive wine 141: Besserat de Bellefon Blanc de Blanc Grand Cru Brut NV

Besserat de BellefonYes, it’s pricey, but the Besserat de Bellefon is Champagne the way it should be

The Champagne business is suffering during the pandemic. A couple of weeks ago, it reported that sales fell by some $1.2 billion in 2020, dropping 18 percent in volume. Who would have thought?

Hence, the Besserat de Bellefon Blanc de Blanc Grand Cru ($90, sample, 12.5%) – and just in time for The Holiday that Must Not be Named.

The Besserat’s price is purely a function of premiumization; Champagne has managed to avoid the Trump wine tariffs. The region’s sales decline is a function of this surge in prices, as well as the pandemic’s hit on restaurant wine sales. Not many of us want to spend this much money on a bottle of Champagne for dinner at home.

The Besserat’s quality has nothing to do with premiumization. This is top-notch sparkling wine from the Champagne region of France, offering everything one would expect of a high-priced bubbly. Look for some citrus and floral notes mixed with the almost toast-like aroma that high-end Champagne is known for. The fruit is a little softer than chardonnay; thank red apple and stone fruits. The bubbles, of course, are quite tight..

It’s not often I get to taste a wine that costs this much, but the Besserat de Bellefon was worth waiting for.

Imported by Winesellers Ltd.

 

Wine of the week: Adami Prosecco Brut Garbel NV

adami proseccoThe Adami Prosecco is Italian bubbly that shows how enjoyable Prosecco can be

Those of us who want more from Prosecco than a sweet, fizzy wine often have difficulty finding something that costs less than $15. Which is where the Adami Prosecco comes in.

The Adami Prosecco Brut Garbel NV ($13, purchased, 11%) combines all that makes this style of Italian sparkling wine popular while not dumbing it down. That means a quality bubbly with a bit of sweetness that is part of what’s going on and not its reason for being. In fact, I have three tasting notes for the Adami over the past decade, and each says mostly the same thing. That’s amazing consistency for a wine at this price.

Look for a fresh and rounded wine, with more apple and less tropical fruit than many similarly-priced Proseccos. It has also more and sturdier bubbles than many others, for a more enjoyable fizziness. Highly recommended, whether for New Years or just because it’s sparkling time.

Imported by Adami USA

 

New Year’s sparkling wine 2020

New Yea's sparkling wine 2020New Year’s sparkling wine 2020 recommendations, because value and quality matter

Once again, the blog focuses on value and quality for New Year’s sparkling wine 2020. Consider these wines for toasting, dinners, or just because you’re in the mood for bubbly. Also handy: The blog’s annual wine gift guidelines and the sparkling wine primer.

Dutcher Crossing Blanc de Blancs 2016 ($45, sample, 12%): California sparkler is top-notch and, given bubbly prices, a fair value. Look for crisp, green apple-y fruit, with some brioche in the background to remind you this is a high-class wine. Very tight bubbles. Highly recommended.

Bouvet Brut NV ($12, purchased, 12%): This French sparkler from the Loire does not taste like Champagne. Does it taste like quality bubbly, with tight bubbles,a  zingy mouth feel. and lemon apple fruit? Yep. Would that all sparkling wine at this price was this well made. Highly recommended. Imported by Kobrand

Empire Estate Blanc de Blancs NV ($19, sample, 11.9%): Price may be a problem, but this New York riesling sparkler, made with the charmat method, is quality wine — soft bubbles, some green apple fruit, decent minerality, and a long finish.

Casteller Cava NV ($12, purchased, 11.5%): This Spanish bubbly is among the few remaining great cheap Spanish sparkling wines, which have been devastated by consolidation and premiumization. Apple and pear fruit, tight bubbles, and a marvelous wine all around. Highly recommended. Imported by Ole & Obrigado

More on New Year’s sparkling wine
New Year’s sparkling wine 2019
New Year’s sparkling wine 2018
New Year’s sparkling wine 2017
Expensive wine 111: Pehu Simonet Champagne Face Nord Extra Brut NV
Enough with the Champagne glass conspiracy already – can’t we just drink and enjoy?

Photo: “Sparkling wine” by tristanf is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Christmas wine 2020

christmas wine 2020Four recommendations for Christmas wine 2020

Check out these suggestions for Christmas wine 2020, whether for a last minute gift, something to drink when you need a moment to yourself, or a holiday dinner. As always, keep our wine gift giving tips in mind — and don’t overlook the blog’s 2020 holiday gift guide.

These wines will get you started:

Torres Verdeo 2018 ($11, purchased, 13%): Ignore the silly marketing — this Spanish white is made with verdejo, but its name is Verdeo. It’s an astonishing cheap wine, an almost layered effort of something that is almost always one note. There is sort of peach fruit to balance the lemon. Highly recommended. Imported by Ste. Michelle Wine Estates

Prosper Maufoux Crémant de Bourgogne Blanc NV ($19, sample, 12%): Would that this French sparkling wine — from high-price Burgundy, no less — still cost around $15. But that’s the tariff for you. Still, it remains top-notch bubbly: Fresh, fruity (apples and lemons), tight bubbles, and nary a hint of brioche. Highly recommended. Imported by Winesellers Ltd.

Naranjas Azules Rosado 2018 ($10, purchased, 13%): This pink Spanish is quite traditional, almost orange in color, but also oh so crisp and clean and practically savory. But there’s also more modern amount of strawberry fruit. An odd and interesting and delicious wine. Highly recommended. Imported by PR Selections

Château de Ribebon 2016 ($14, purchased, 13.5%): Modern-style red Bordeaux blend that’s mostly merlot with dark berry fruit, but tempered by a bit of earth, an almost pine forest aroma, and nicely done tannins.  This is about as value-oriented as red Bordeaux gets these days. Imported by Knows Imports

More about Christmas wine:
Christmas wine 2019
Christmas wine 2018
Christmas wine 2017
Wine of the week: Chateau La Graviere Blanc 2019
Expensive wine 138: Panther Creek Pinot Noir Winemaker’s Cuvee 2017

Photo: “guardian of wine” by marcostetter is marked with CC PDM 1.0

Thanksgiving wine 2020

thanksgiving wine 2020Four Thanksgiving wine 2020 suggestions

Don’t feel too thankful this year, what with all the damn terrible things that have happened? The Wine Curmudgeon understands, but wants to remind everyone: At least we’re here to enjoy the holiday. A lot of us are much worse off.

So take a look at these Thanksgiving wine 2020 suggestions. The blog’s guidelines for holiday wine buying are here.

Louis Jadot Beaujolais 2019 ($12, purchased, 13%): This French red is about as old-fashioned as wine gets, and I can hear the wine geeks snickering in the background. But the 2019 is a little heavier than usual, which makes it more of a food wine and which isn’t a bad thing. Look for berry fruit, a hint of tannins, and even a little pepper, Imported by Kobrand

Branchini Pignoletto Frizzante 2019 ($12, purchased, 11.5%): Frizzante, in this Italian white, means fizzy. And that means you get a Prosecco-style wine without any of the off-putting qualities of cheap Prosecco. That means it’s not only delightfully fizzy, but minerally,  with a hint of pear, maybe, and barely sweet. Highly recommended — much, much more than I thought it could be. A  tip of the WC’s fedora to Paul DiCarlo at Jimmy’s in Dallas for telling me about this. Imported by Serendipity Wines

Calcu Sauvignon Blanc Reserva Especial 2019 ($12, sample, 12.5%): An intriguing and enjoyable white from Chile, with about 60 percent sauvignon blanc and 30 percent semillon. It’s not light like a supermarket New Zealand sauvignon blanc, and it needs food. But it’s quite Chilean in character (soft lemon instead of grapefruit) with a pleasantly long finish. Not for everyone, but a fine value. Imported by Global Vineyard Importers

Mezzacorona Rose Vigneti delle Dolomiti 2019 ($10, purchased, 12%): An Italian pink that does what it does quite well and for more than a fair price. It’s soft-ish but not sweet — lots of berry fruit, with a hint of acidity and a pleasing, long fruity finish. Imported by Prestige Wine Imports

More about Thanksgiving wine:
Thanksgiving wine 2019
Thanksgiving wine 2018
Thanksgiving wine 2017
Wine of the week: El Coto Rioja Blanco 2018
Expensive wine 131: Justin Isosceles 2015

Expensive wine 136: Bellavista Vendemmia Rose 2014

Bellavista Vendemmia roseThe Bellavista Vendemmia rose, an Italian Champagne-style sparkling wine, provides value and lots of quality

Most Italian sparkling wine is Prosecco, which rarely costs more than $15, offers a bit of sweetness, and has decent bubbles. Franciacorta, which is made in the Champagne style and uses the same grapes, is much less common; Italian producers make 200 times more Prosecco than Franciacorta.

Hence, Franciacorta is pricey and not always easy to find. I got to taste the Bellavista Vendemmia Rose courtesy of the Italian Wine Guy, who apparently took pity on me for having to drink wine like this.

Still, the Bellavista Vendemmia Rose 2014 ($44. sample, 12.5%) is well worth the effort to find, and it’s certainly worth its mid-double digit price. It’s a nuanced, sophisticated sparkling wine, and much appreciated after all the stuff I’ve had to plow through the past six months in the pursuit of wine journalism. Look for some brioche aroma, lots of berry fruit (strawberry? raspberry?), those wonderfully tight bubbles that show top-notch Champagne-style wine, and a long, clean, and minerally finish.

Highly recommended. Drink this on its own, but it’s a terrific food wine – socca, anyone?

Imported by TMT USA