Category:Wine reviews

Wine of the week: Clean Slate riesling 2007

image Riesling is a funny thing. Some people won ?t drink it because it ?s sweet, and other people only drink it because it is sweet. So how about drinking the Clean Slate because it ?s enjoyable?

Sweet wine is neither good nor bad because it ?s sweet, just like dry wine is neither good nor bad because it ?s dry. How often does someone refuse to drink cabernet sauvignon because it ?s too dry? Sweet wine is worth drinking based on whether the winemaker pays attention, and the sweetness should be balanced by the fruit and the acid in the wine.

That ?s mostly the case with the Clean Slate (about $10), a German wine from the Mosel. It ?s a simple wine, but it has enough lemon-lime acidity to balance the sweetness. The Germans have six levels of sweetness, and this is about the second most dry. Drink the Clean Slate at any holiday event, and it will also pair with roast ham and spicy food.

Wine of the week: Francis Coppola Alicante Bouschet 2007

There are two reasons why the Wine Curmudgeon is writing about the Alicante. One is that it ?s quality wine. The other is that I get to tell my Francis Ford Coppola wine story.

This is a very fruity, almost cranberry-ish wine, dark in color and low in alcohol. It ?s quite fun to drink, which is not a way I usually describe wine. In this case, fun means you pour a little, drink it, pour a little, chat, pour a little more, eat a bite, pour a little more. The next thing you know, the bottle is empty.

At $15, it ?s not as inexpensive as it could be, given that the grapes are from Lodi and that alicante, an Italian grape not much known in the U.S., is not exactly cabernet sauvignon. But it ?s still a value, and would pair nicely with almost any holiday meal, as well as red sauces and pasta.

After the jump, my Coppola story:

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Wine review: Veramonte sauvignon blanc 2008

Last night, the Wine Curmudgeon felt like a glass of wine. But it was Sunday evening, and I didn’t want to go through a lot of wine selection foolishness — would it pair with dinner (leftover pizza that I had made earlier in the week), what were the flavors, and all of that? So I pulled the Veramonte out of the wine closet, unscrewed the top, and poured myself a glass.

This has always been quality $10 wine, and the current vintage is no exception. (Thankfully, the Chilean peso has lost much of its value in the past three months, and this wine no longer costs $12). The Veramonte has grapefruit flavor up front, a decent middle and even a bit of mineral in the finish. It’s not as citrusy as a New Zealand sauvignon blanc, and it doesn’t have the tropical flavors of its California cousins.

All of which means it will pair with typical white wine foods, the odd leftover, and you can even drink it while you’re watching television. With an ice cube in it, to boot.

Wine review: Domaine Jaboulet-Vercherre Beaujolais-Villages 2007

image Is inexpensive Beaujolais more than the annual Nouveau release? The answer, thankfully, is yes.

I stumbled across this wine, sold by a reasonably well-known Burgundy negociant, while looking for red Burgundy. Since it was $11, I figured it work as a comparison with this year ?s Nouveau. There was no comparison.

The Jaboulet is typical entry level Beaujolais ? light, fruity (black cherries, perhaps?), low in alcohol and not much in the way of acid or tannins. As such, it ?s exactly the kind of wine to drink with dinner. But it was also a much more interesting wine, at more or less the same price, as this year ?s Nouveau, and didn ?t taste gimmicky. In fact, try a blind tasting, comparing this wine (or any Beaujolais-Villages) with the Nouveau. The difference is easy to spot, even for beginners.

Wine of the week: Meridian Vineyards chardonnay 2007


Meridian ?s products are almost always competent and value oriented, and you usually get your $6 worth. But they are rarely more than that.

The chardonnay, though, is grocery store wine done at a level that is way beyond grocery store wine. Winemaker Lee Miyamura has accomplished something special with this vintage, producing a stunning wine that offers two or three times $6 worth of value. Look for bright green apple fruit and a rich mouth feel, as well as balanced acid and a finish that many wines that cost $20 don ?t have. There is even an oakiness that tastes like barrel aging, which Meridian doesn ?t usually do (the company uses stainless steel tanks with oak staves or wood chips). 

Serve this to wine snobs, and make them guess how much it cost. They ?ll never figure it out. Meanwhile, you can sip it before dinner, serve it with chicken or seafood, and think about how smart you are when it comes to wine.

Wine review: George Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau 2008

The good news is that the Duboeuf nouveau has some character this year. It's not the soft, soapy, banana frosting wine that it was last year. There is actually more of a berry aroma, and even some tannins and acid in the back. All told, this vintage is a marked improvement over most of the past several years.

The bad news is the price. The Duboeuf costs as much as $14 in Dallas, and that's silly. Nouveau's entire reason for being is that it's cheap, since it doesn't age. When nouveau starts to cost as much as red wine that has spent six or nine months in oak, there is very little incentive to drink it. The Duboeuf went on sale in Paris today at 6.5 euros, which is a bit more than $8. That's probably closer to the right price.

In fact, this has been a very controversial year for nouveau. There were evens calls to boycott the wine because it isn ?t especially eco-friendly. I mentioned this earlier, but my cohort in regional wine, Dave McIntyre, had an even better take on how silly a boycott was.

Wine of the week: Dufouleur Pere & Fils Nuits St. Georges Premier Cru Les Saint Georges 2002

image Regular visitors here know that the Wine Curmudgeon does not put much stock in expensive wine. Even when it ?s worthwhile, these wines often fail the 10 times test: Is a typical $100 wine 10 times better than a typical $10 wine?

This red Burgundy (what the French call pinot noir) is from a 400-year French wine family and it does pass the 10 times test. The 2002 vintage, meanwhile, is one of the best in Burgundy in decades. Even better, the wine is only about $30 (though I can ?t guarantee availability outside of the Dallas-Fort Worth area). This is classic red Burgundy, with zippy tannins and a pleasantly rustic feel and taste. It isn ?t especially fruity, so if you drink a lot of New World pinot noir you may be disappointed. Try it anyway.

I drank most of a bottle of this on the porch, enjoying a pleasant fall afternoon. It will also pair with almost anything you can throw at it for Thanksgiving, and it has lots of aging potential. How often can you say that about a $30 wine?