Category:Sparkling 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

Mini-reviews 106: Day Owl rose, Basque wine, Bousquet, and Innocent Bystander

day owlReviews 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.

Day Owl Rose 2017 ($13, sample, 12%): Intriguing California pink made with the barbera grape, not common in California or in rose. It’s still a bit young and a little heavier than I like (thanks to the barbera), but it’s a solid effort. Look for very aromatic cherry fruit and a sort of stony finish.

Etxeberria Bengoetxe 2015 ($20, purchased, 12%): This Spanish white from the Getariako Txakolina appellation in the Basque region is about as geeky as wine gets. The grape, hondarribi zuri, is past obscure, while the wine will sometimes have a little natural carbonation. Or not, as the case may be. It’s lemony and soft, but not sweet, and almost savory. Highly recommended, especially for summer.

Domaine Bousquet Sparkling Brut Rose NV ($13, sample, 12%): Fruity Argentine bubbly (berries?) that isn’t quite Prosecco, but soft and missing a little oomph. Not badly done, but $13 can buy more interesting sparkling.

Innocent Bystander Sauvignon Blanc 2016 ($15, sample, 13%): One note New Zealand white, and that note is red grapefruit from beginning to end. This is professionally made wine, which makes me wonder – and at this price – why they didn’t try to add some complexity.

Enough with the Champagne glass conspiracy already – can’t we just drink and enjoy?

Champgne glass

$60 will buy two Reidel Veritas Champagne glasses — and won’t we sleep better at night after that purchase?

Once again, we’re being told that we aren’t drinking bubbly from the correct glasses, and we’d better stop – or else

A couple of months ago, when I wrote about the most recent Champagne glass conspiracy, I thought we were done with worrying about what a Champagne glass should look like. The glass in that post was so over the top that only the geekiest among us would pay attention. And the rest of us could enjoy our bubbly in whatever glasses we had, content that the wine business has passed us by.

Silly me.

Once again, we’re being told that we aren’t drinking bubbly from the correct glasses, and that we must spend $30 a glass to do it the proper way. It’s called the Veritas glass from our friends at Reidel – with a wider middle and narrow top, two design changes that are supposed to help us enjoy more aromas and flavors. No, this isn’t as bizarre as the cement mixer glass from the previous post (which also needs to be dusty to work most efficiently), but it’s overkill nonetheless.

Most of us spend less than $15 a bottle for sparkling wine. Why do we need to pay twice as much for the glass? Why can’t we enjoy our bubbly in whatever glasses we have and be done with it?

Because this is wine, and if they aren’t telling us what to do, they’re reminding us that what we do is wrong. And, by the way, spend more money.

I wrote this in the previous Champagne glass post, and it’s worth repeating: “What difference does the design make to the vast majority of wine drinkers? Can we tell the difference between the bubbles in a flute glass and in the cement mixer glass? Isn’t the wine just as enjoyable in the former? The answers: Almost certainly not, and of course. And I can’t imagine most of us want to drink wine out of a dusty glass.”

But then again, what do we know? We’re just the slobs who pay for everything.

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.

Christmas wine 2017

christmas wine 2017Four choices for Christmas wine 2017 to help you enjoy the holiday

Suggestions for Christmas wine 2017, whether for a last minute gift or for a holiday dinner. As always, keep our wine gift giving tips in mind:

Ken Forrester Petit Rose 2017 ($10, purchased, 13%): Top-notch South African pink from one of my favorite producers. More in the Loire style, even though it uses Rhone grapes (grenache and a little viognier), so less fruit (unripe strawberry) and more stoniness and minerality. Highly recommended. Imported by USA Wine Imports.

Sauzet Puligny-Montrachet 2013 ($79, purchased, 13%): My favorite white Burgundy, and perhaps my favorite chardonnay in the word. This vintage is more tropical than I expected (lime and almost banana fruit), but still crisp, minerally, and white Burgundy-like. And the oak, with hints of pecan and caramel, is a revelation, a master class in how to age wine. A tip o’ the WC fedora to the Big Guy, who brought it to a recent wine lunch. Highly recommended, and especially as a gift for someone who loves wine. Imported by Vineyard Brands.

Bervini Rose Spumante Extra Dry NV ($18, sample, 11%): Old-fashioned Italian bubbly, the kind we drank in the 1960s and ’70s — more fizzy than sparkling, a touch sweet, and balanced with raspberry fruit. It’s well made and fun to drink, but price might turn some people off. Imported by WineTrees USA.

Silver Totem Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 ($16, sample, 13.5%): An amazing Washington state red wine that comes from Big Wine producer Banfi, but tastes like Washington state cabernet. Everything is where it is supposed to be — some heft, some rich dark fruit but not too ripe, and enough acidity so the wine is more than smooth. Highly recommended.

More about Christmas wine:
Christmas wine 2016
Christmas wine 2015
Christmas wine 2014
Expensive wine 101: Franco-Espanolas Bordon Gran Reserva 2005
Expensive wine 104: Dönnhoff Norheimer Kirschheck Riesling Spätlese 2014