Category:Wine reviews

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.

Wine review: Loredona Viognier 2006

image There is nothing wrong with the Loredona ? it ?s $10, and has pleasant honey and apricot flavors (though not much of a finish). Plus, it isn ?t cloying in the way that some cheap, fruity wines are. It ?s fine for porch sipping, as well as pairing with a fall-inspired jambalaya.

But what really made me notice the Loredona was that it ?s just another in a line of quite well-made, inexpensive viogniers that I ?ve tasted this year. They ranged from technical wines (a French term for grocery store wines ) like Smoking Loon to the various Texas viogniers that I have praised (Brennan, McPherson, Becker). Are winemakers discovering viognier is an interesting alternative to chardonnay, especially on the inexpensive side? I hope so, because these were some of the best cheap wines that I ?ve had this year.

Wine of the week: Domain du Tariquet Côtes de Gascogne 2007

image The French region of Gascony is famous for two things, foie gras and D’Artagnan, the Fourth Musketeer. The Wine Curmudgeon submits that a third item should be added ?- great, cheap wine.

The Tariquet (about $10) is just another in a long line of terrific $10 wines from Gascony. These wines are made with grapes that are little known, like ugni blanc, or have bad reputations, like French colombard. But in the hands of a variety of Gascon winemakers, they become clean, crisp and refreshing, with a bit more fruit than other French white wines. The Tariquet has a lemony, floral aroma and a touch of lemon flavor (maybe even lemon zest), without any unpleasant minerality. This is cheap wine the way it should be. Serve it chilled on its own, or with seafood or something like chicken Caesar salad.

Wine of the week: Sunset Winery Moon Glow Merlot 2004

imageBruce and Birgit Anderson run Sunset Winery out of what is more or less a house in suburban Fort Worth, so the idea that their 2004 Moon Glow Merlot can win an award seems kind of fantastic. Burleson is not exactly Napa.

Nevertheless, the wine tells the story. The Moon Glow (about $20, available from the winery) won a bronze medal at the prestigious Dallas Morning News competition earlier this year. It ?s a warm, rich wine that is isn ?t as big or as jammy as most California merlots. Plus, it doesn ?t have any of the excess acid that characterizes so many poorly-made Texas merlots and cabernet sauvignons. Pair it with red meat dishes, and especially lamb.

I ?m not necessarily sold on merlot as a grape that needs to be grown in Texas. But the Andersons and grower Neal Newsom, who supplied the grapes, show what is possible.