Category:Wine reviews

Wine of the week: Garnacha de Fuego 2007

The Wine Curmudgeon has never been a huge fan of this wine, mostly because it cost as little as $6 and $7 in other parts of the country, but as much as $12 and even $15 in Dallas. Lately, though, the price in this area seems to have settled closer to $10. That makes this Spanish red a fine bargain.

Garnacha is a grape that produces very fruity wines with little in the way of tannins. This one has a lot of red fruit, but it's not especially heavy, which is a testament to Spanish wine making skills. The wine magazines adore this wine, and I've never quite been able to figure out why. One reason, probably, is that it's imported by Jorge Ordonez, who is one of the best at bringing Spanish wine into the U.S.

Drink this on its own, because it's light enough, or with pizza or similar casual food. It will also be more than adequate with Thanksgiving dinner (and don ? tell anyone, but the non-wine drinkers might even enjoy it chilled).

Wine review: Sebeka Chenin Blanc 2008

The Wine Curmudgeon thinks chenin blanc is one of the world’s great unappreciated grapes. When it is made well, it ?s a fine alternative to chardonnay ?- dry and fruity in the New World style or dry and steely in the French style.

The catch, of course, is the phrase ?if it ?s made well. ? Too much chenin blanc is tasting room sweet or sour and green. Fortunately, there is the Sebeka (about $10), a South African wine from the Gallo empire. It ?s a solid Tuesday night with Chinese takeout wine ? a bit sweet, but not unpleasantly so, with lots of tropical fruit. I wish it had had more of an acid backbone, but that doesn ?t detract from its value.

Wine of the week: Saint Clair Vicar’s Choice Sauvignon Blanc 2008

image New Zealand sauvignon blanc is so well made and so inexpensive that some wine drinkers are starting to take it for granted. If it doesn ?t cost $10 and taste like $35, they get upset.

That ?s their problem. The Wine Curmudgeon is just happy to find wines like the Vicar ?s Choice (about $12) ? balanced, with the fruit and acidity playing off each other the way they should, and with more than just the usual New Zealand grapefruit up front. Look for tropical flavors in the middle, and even a bit of a stony finish.

Drink this as an aperitif, or with the usual sauvignon blanc entrees. It wouldn ?t be out of place with a cheese course featuring harder, nuttier cheeses, either.




Wine review: Masi Campofiorin 2005

image Italy, being the most complicated wine region in the world, really doesn ?t get a fair shake in the U.S. There are so many wines, and they are made with such odd grapes, that most of us opt for what ?s easy ?- Chianti and sangiovese blends, poorly-made pinot grigio, and the odd Barolo or Montepulciano.

So, when the Wine Curmudgeon gets a chance to taste something off the beaten path, he takes it. And when the wine is well done and not especially expensive, like the Masi (about $15, though availability may be limited), it ?s a treat. It also helps that most of Masi ?s other wines are, four, five and even 10 times more expensive.

This red wine is a blend, made mostly with a Veronese grape called corvina, grown almost nowhere else. It ?s partially dried, somewhat like a raisin, before crushing. This gives the wine a darker, deeper flavor, though it isn ?t particularly fruity. Serve it with red sauce, as well as roast meat, including chicken. It would also make a terrific chicken cacciatore.

Wine of the week: Colonia las Liebres 2007

image Argentina is best known for malbec, which it has turned into the country ?s national grape. Wine drinkers associate malbec with Argentina in the same way that people associate shiraz with Australia. But that doesn ?t mean the country ?s winemakers don ?t produce other interesting wines.

The las Liebres (about $10) is made with an Italian variety called bonardo (by Italians in Argentina, apparently), and it ?s worth a taste. The wine is fruity and ripe, with lots of blackberry, very little in the way of tannins, and no oak. It ?s a heftier, darker version of Beaujolais nouveau. Drink this with with any tomato-based Italian dish, grilled sausages or barbecue.

Wine review: Bonny Doon Bien Nacido Syrah 2005

image This is an intriguing, almost quirky wine that ?s difficult to describe. It doesn ?t much taste like a California syrah, because it ?s not nearly as ripe or jammy as most. It doesn ?t taste like a French syrah, because it ?s too fruity. And it certainly doesn ?t taste like an Australian shiraz, because it ?s too subtle. Plus, it ?s $40, and what is the Wine Curmudgeon doing reviewing a $40 wine?

Mostly because it ?s made by Randall Grahm, and he almost always gets the benefit of the doubt. So here ?s what I suggest. Buy it as a holiday gift and put it away for two or three years. Seriously. Come back to it in 2011 or so, serve it with steak frites, and marvel at how unique, unusual and well made it is. If you have to drink it now, decant it for at least 30 minutes before serving, and have it with food. If you drink it by itself, you ?ll wonder what I could possibly be going on about.

Wine of the week: Segura Viudas Brut Rose NV

imageHow much did the Wine Curmudgeon like this Segura Viudas? I went back to the store and bought a second bottle the next day.

This is classic cheap wine, as well as pretty good bubbly in its own right. It ?s $10 and well made, balanced, bone dry and fruity, with an almost pinot noir berry-like flavor. Which is a neat trick, since it doesn ?t have any pinot in it.

Segura Viudas is best known for its more expensive sparkler, the bottle with the pewter fittings (which is even more dry than this). It ?s part of the Freixenet cava empire (cava being the term for Spanish sparkling wine), and I don ?t know that I ?ve had a Freixenet bubbly that didn ?t have something to recommend it. Serve this on its own for holiday toasts or with seafood (lobster rolls would be terrific) or roast chicken.