Category:Wine reviews

The Chateau Pavie controversy

image Dan Peabody, who works for Dallas’ Spirivin Group, pulled the wine out of his carrying case. It was inside a paper bag, so I couldn’t see what it was. He poured a taste.

I smelled. I sipped. I swallowed. John Bookwalter, the winemaker for Washington state’s Bookwalter Winery, looked at me. “What do you think?”

Peabody, Bookwalter and I were at lunch to taste three new Bookwalter releases (which I’ll write about later). But we were also tasting a fourth wine, which the two of them had brought to challenge my palate and tease me a little. I would taste the wine blind and see if I could identify it.

I failed miserably, which was the point.

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Wine review: Rosemount Estate Diamond Label Sauvignon Blanc 2007

image The Australians don’t usually do sauvignon blanc well. The climate is mostly too warm, there isn’t a great demand for it outside of Australia, and the country’s winemakers prefer to spend their time on big red wines.

So the Wine Curmudgeon expected very little from this — and learned, once again, never to assume when it comes to wine. The Rosemount is wonderful $10 wine, an amazing accomplishment. It’s clean and crisp, without any of the flabby character usually associated with warm climate sauvignon blanc.

It’s more California in style than New Zealand, which means tropical flavors as opposed to the big grapefruit that New Zealand is know for. Served chilled, this is a porch sipper as well as an amiable companion for grilled chicken and  shellfish (shrimp on the barbie, perhaps?)

Wine of the week: Macon-Lugny Les Charmes 2006

Wine of the week: Macon-Lugny Les Charmes 2006 I stumbled on this inexpensive white Burgundy during my wine tasting extravaganza last week. The Les Charmes (about $11) is an example of a wine that gets lost in the cracks — a solid value that is overlooked in the rush to find new wines, hipper wines, and trendier wines. Which is too bad, because it’s well worth drinking. (The above link is in French, in case anyone feels adventurous.)

White Burgundy is chardonnay, and in the Macon (a region in Burgundy), this kind of chardonnay isn’t aged in oak. That delivers a crisper, cleaner, more fruit-centered wine than most California chardonnay. Look for green apple, a little lemon, and a refreshing finish. Serve it chilled with main course salads, grilled and roasted chicken, and even as an aperitif.

Wine of the week: Santa Digna Cabernet Sauvignon Rose 2007

image I’ll do my annual rose preview and review at the end of May, but no time is a bad time to write about rose. It’s cheap, it’s food friendly, and it’s versatile. Plus, the weekend forecast for Dallas says gorgeous spring weather, so the Wine Curmudgeon will be able to break out a bottle and sip it on the back porch.

The Santa Digna (about $10) has a little more body than many roses, thanks to the cabernet. But this Chilean wine from one of the country’s best known producers is still light and refreshing, and still pairs with everything from grilled chicken to hamburgers to pizza.

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A peek at the 2006 white Burgundies

image And they’re not bad. They’re probably not as good as the 2002 vintage, which was the best in at least a decade. In fact, tasting the 2006s Monday at a Louis Latour event in Dallas reminded me of just how terrific the 2002s were, and I’m going see if I can still find some.

The 2006s are probably closer to the 2005s in quality, and all we know for certain about 2005 is that the wines are drinking well despite being very young. This is not all that common for the best white Burgundy, which really needs to age for at least 5 to 8 years before it starts showing how good it is.

Ordinarily, wine that needs age is tight when it is young — think of a grapefruit that isn’t quite ready, when it isn’t sweet enough or acidic enough, but just sort of in between. You can tell, if you’ve eaten enough grapefruit, just how good it will be when it is ripe.

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Texas wines worth trying

This is the third of three parts about the state of the Texas wine business. To see part I, an overview of current trends, go here. Part II, a Texas wine of the week, is here.

Is there still Texas wine that doesn’t taste like it is supposed to? Yes. But, increasingly, wine makers are doing the right things and producing products that are varietally correct. This means cabernet sauvignon tastes like cabernet sauvignon, and not a poor imitation.

I tasted a couple of dozen wines at this week’s event, and these were among the most impressive:

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Wine of the week: Llano Estacado Cabernet Sauvignon Cellar Reserve 2005

imageThis is the second of three parts about the state of the Texas wine business. To see part I, an overview of current trends, go here. Part III on Friday will look at some of the state’s best wine.

Texas, as a general rule, doesn’t do cabernet well. It’s too hot in most of the state to grow quality cabernet grapes, and the wine making has been uneven in West Texas, where the climate is more accommodating.

Which is why this cabernet was such a treat when I tasted it this week, at an event hosted by the Wine & Food Foundation of Texas and the state’s Texas wine program.

I didn’t expect what I got. At $17, it offered value, which is not always the case for Texas cabernets. Plus, it was very Texas in style — not as fruity, alcoholic or tannic as a Napa or Sonoma cabernet, but more fruit forward than a red Bordeaux. Serve this at room temperature with grilled steaks or barbecue.

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