Category:Wine reviews

Wine of the week: Chateau LesTuileries Rouge 2005

image Most wine drinkers see Bordeaux as a great black hole made up of wine speak, unimaginably high prices, and an incredibly complex system of chateaux and classifications.

Which makes this wine (about $15) all the more welcome. It's a merlot and cabernet sauvignon blend in the classic Bordeaux style, but without any of the pretensions noted above. Classic means it's not a fruit forward popsicle, full of blueberry and cola, like most inexpensive Californa merlots. Rather, it has less fruit, more earthiness, and tastes more interesting. I stumbled on this when I was looking for a red Bordeaux to use for my Cordon Bleu class tastings, and it more than filled the bill.

Serve it with most beef (hamburgers on the grill wouldn't be bad at all) and even some meatier vegetable dishes.

Oregon wine update

image And it’s mostly good news, if my experience yesterday at a 20-winery tasting in Dallas is any indication. Oregon is best known for its world-class pinot noir and chardonnay, and there was plenty of that on hand. But the state’s producers are working with a variety of other other cool climate grapes, including and especially German varietals.

That said, the 2006 harvest had its problems. I tasted a surprising number of flabby and uninteresting wines, including too many that were overly alcoholic. That almost never happens in Oregon. I was told that this development has more to do with the difficulties in 2006 (not enough sun, too cool) than with any style shift. I hope so. Oregon is famous for its accessible, fruit-driven wines, which are a welcome relief to so much that comes out of California.

Here are some of the highlights from the tasting:

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Wine review: House Wine 2005

image Or yet another reason why the Wine Curmudgeon likes Washington state wine.

This is a well-made, unpretentious red blend (cabernet sauvignon and merlot, with syrah, malbec and cabernet franc for good measure) that is everything so many Napa and Sonoma wines aren’t. It’s easy to drink, yet also food friendly.

It’s a touch pricey at $13, but considering how many decent red blends cost half as much more, that’s not a huge problem. Plus, one has to appreciate the humor in both the wine’s name and and the winery — the Magnificent Wine Co.

Serve this at room temperature with hard cheeses (or even cheese puffs). I made chicken in red wine with it, and then served the wine with dinner.

Wine of the week: Escudo Rojo 2006

image Availability is the great challenge in the wine business. This is just as true for inexpensive wines as it is for the limited production, big score, highly-rated cult wines that get so much attention.

Which means you should always keep your eye on a couple of readily available wines that can be found in grocery stores that are food friendly and easy to drink. The Escudo Rojo (about $14), a red blend from Chile, is one such wine.

It’s made with carmenere, which has evolved into the national grape of Chile (after winemakers there thought it was merlot for a century or so). Carmenere is a little softer than merlot, and with a little more herbal quality. Blend it with cabernet sauvignon, syrah and cabernet franc, as is done here, and you get a New World, fruit forward style wine that is also balanced. (And, since this is made by a Rothschild company, you also get 12 months of oak.) Serve this with barbecue or hamburgers.

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.