Wine to drink when the electricity goes out – yet again

electricityIt’s two red wines for the 2019 version of Dallas’ almost annual major power failure

I lost power for five hours on Tuesday, which was two days after the storm that came through Dallas on Sunday. That’s the storm that caused almost 300,000 outages, damaged thousands of homes, and led to one person’s death. I was lucky, even with the two-day thing; many in my neighborhood and the nearby Lake Highlands area were still without electricity almost a week later.

As such, this post started as a screed aimed at the Texas Legislature and the state’s utility regulators, whose boobery and incompetence have made our almost annual major electricity failures possible. But I threw that one away. You don’t need to read that, and especially on a wine blog.

So know that I drank a couple of bottles of red wine on Tuesday night, and I recommend them if your power goes out and there isn’t any ice to chill the whites. In addition, you can check out the other wine and power failure post — Wine to drink when the power goes out, 2014 edition — if you need more suggestions. Which, hopefully, you won’t.

And, if nothing else, all the power outages have helped me figure out a way to bake bread on top of the stove. I had a loaf rising when we lost power. Rather than dump the dough, I rigged a contraption using a cast iron skillet, a baking rack, and wok. It mostly worked, too.

The Tuesday night reds:

Renzo Masi Erta e China 2017 ($15, sample, 13.5%): This Italian red blend (half sangiovese and half cabernet sauvingon) was surprisingly balanced and Italian-like. Maybe it was my mood sitting in the dark, but I expected something soft and annoying. It had that wonderful tart cherry Italian fruit, a touch of minearalty, and some backbone from the cabernet. It needs food, but is well worth drinking even when the lights are on. Imported by HB Wine Merchants

Angulo Innocenti Malbec Nonni 2016 ($8, purchased, 13.3%): This Argentine red is “thumb and forefingers touched together” close from being a $10 Hall of Fame wine. It’s a significant step up from the usual $10 malbec, which means it tastes like wine and not vodka mixed with grape juice. The black fruit is more balanced, some tannins and acidity peek out, and the wine is enjoyable in a way most of the others aren’t. And this comes from someone who doesn’t much care for New World malbec. Imported by Vineyard Brands

Father’s Day wine 2019

Father's Day wineFather’s Day wine 2019: Four wines to make Dad proud

Every year at Father’s Day, we’re told to buy Dad a big red wine. Because, after all, isn’t that what Dad is supposed to want? Maybe. But the most important thing to know is to buy Dad what he likes for Father’s Day wine 2019. Keep the blog’s wine gift-giving guidelines in mind throughout the process: Don’t buy someone wine that you think they should like; buy them what they will like.

Father’s Day wine 2019 suggestions:

Eberle Syrah Steinbeck Vineyard 2017 ($32, sample, 14.2%): This red wine from California’s Paso Robles is balanced and almost nuanced — which doesn’t happen all that often with Paso syrah. Look for black fruit, a little earth, a just enough richness, and a wine that is clean and full on the finish. Highly recommended, assuming the price doesn’t scare you off.

Ryder Estate Pinot Noir Rose 2018 ($14, sample, 13%): This is what the once-legendary Toad Hollow rose demonstrated to in the old days — tart cherry, a little ripe strawberry, and a long and pleasing finish that shows off the fruit. Not sweet, but fruity in the California style. Ryder is making a name for itself as one of the best $10 and $12 producers in the country. Highly recommended.

Pedroncelli Friends.white 2018 ($12, purchased, 12.9%): Yes, a corny name, but this California white blend from one of my favorite producers is always well made and a value. The gewurtztraminer balances the sauvignon blanc, but doesn’t sweeten the wine. Pleasantly tart, fresh, and enjoyable — some citrus (lemon?) and an appealing crispness. Highly recommended.

Chateau St. Jean Brut Rose NV ($15, sample, 13%): I expected almost nothing from this California bubbly, and was once again proved wrong — taste the wine before you judge it. Quality charmat method wine with a little more style and appeal than Prosecco, including some very nice berries and a creaminess that one doesn’t expect in charmat sparkling.

More Father’s Day wine:
Father’s Day wine 2018
Father’s Day wine 2017
Father’s Day wine 2016
Expensive wine 118: Bonny Doon Le Cigare Volant 2013

Wine of the week: Naia Verdejo 2017

The Naia verdejo is $10 Spanish white wine that speaks to the great quality and value of Spanish white wine

A couple of years ago, not even wine geeks paid much attention to verdejo, a Spanish white grape. Today, though, verdejo is showing up more often; hence, prices are often way out of line with quality, while cute labels are all over the place to make up for the lack of quality. Through all of this, the Naia verdejo has been a beacon of consistency and value.

The Naia vedejo ($10, purchased, 13.5%) reminds us of the tremendous value in Spanish wine. It tastes of tart lemon, as it should, but there is also an undercurrent of tropical fruit (pineapple?) that you don’t usually get in a $10 verdejo. It’s not so much that it’s very well done, but that the producer understands the role of $10 wine – that it’s not supposed to cost $15 just because.

Highly recommended, and a candidate for the 2020 $10 Hall of Fame. And yes, dad will enjoy this over the weekend, whether it’s porch sitting while his family celebrates Father’s Day or as something to sip while grilling chicken or shrimp.

Imported by Aviva Vino

 

Winebits 597: Bumble wine bar, pinotage, wine prices

bumble wine bar

Swipe right for a date at the Bumble wine bar.

This week’s wine news: On-line dating site Bumble is opening a wine bar, plus pinotage and its lack of respect and wine keeps getting more expensive

Wine for two: Internet dating site Bumble has solved your first date problems – the Bumble wine bar, called Bumble Brew. The bar will open in Manhattan’s trendy SoHo neighborhood in the fall, featuring 15 wines by the glass from $12 to $16 – not a bad price given the rents in that part of New York City. The Wine Curmudgeon wishes Bumble the best of luck, since its main users are 18- to 29-year-olds, the demographic that shows the least interest in wine. Maybe Bumble can rekindle interest in wine among younger consumers, doing something the wine business doesn’t seem to care much about.

Poor, poor pinotage: Pinotage is a red grape grown almost exclusively in South Africa, and it gets very little respect in most of the rest of the world. Greg Sherwood, writing in South Africa’s Wine Mag, says pinotage “and its rightful place at the vinous fine wine table is still subject to a lot of debate and conjecture by international wine buyers but perhaps less so now by end-consumers.” In other words, why do wine drinkers in South Africa enjoy the stuff, while most of the rest of the world goes out of its way to avoid it? Sherwood discusses the grape’s past, when pinotage wines smelled – charitably – like burnt rubber or hot road tar. He says winemakers have solved those problems, and the grape can now produce high-quality wine. The article isn’t the best written, but it’s worth reading to anyone who has ever tasted pinotage and wondered what was going on.

Pricier and pricier: Don Kavanagh, writing on Wine-Searcher.com, says expensive wine keeps getting more expensive, and that means all wine is getting more expensive. This apparently comes as a great shock to Kavanagh, even though he’s writing for the website that has helped fuel those higher prices with its gushing odes to expensive wine. Still, his point is well taken, and especially for regular visitors to the blog: “[B]ut a look at the big picture shows one incontrovertible truth about wine prices: the only way is up.”

Expensive wine 121: Henri Clerc Puligny-Montrachet 2013

Henri Clerc Puligny-Montrachet The Henri Clerc Puligny-Montrachet is young white Burgundy in all its glory

Wine is known for making food taste better, but it can also improve the ambiance of a meal. This has little do with the alcohol; rather, it’s about the quality of the wine and how its enjoyment makes everything else seem better. Which is exactly what the Henri Clerc Puligny-Montrachet did recently.

The Big Guy wanted to have wine with lunch, which meant we had to eat at the blog’s unofficial BYOB restaurant. The catch, as we discussed on the drive there, was that the food had been ordinary lately and the service worse. It’s not asking too much to be greeted politely at a restaurant, is it? And especially when you eat there as often as we do?

Not to worry, The Big Guy told me. I have some Puligny, and all will be well. And he was exactly correct – the Henri Clerc Puligny-Montrachet ($50, purchased, 13.5%) smoothed out all the rough edges, and I remember the wine much more than I remember the rest of the lunch.

The Clerc is the kind of wine that reminds us why French wine is French wine, if only because the estate dates to the 16th century. The wine itself — chardonnay from the Puligny-Montrachet region of Burgundy is young. The term is “nerovisite” – sort of like a teenager who can’t sit still. As such, it should open and become more elegant and richer as it ages over the next decade. Now, though, it’s delightful – lots of fruity acidity (crisp pear, pleasantly tart pineapple?); full through the middle; and lots and lots of the wonderful Puligny minerality on the finish.

Highly recommended, and just the gift for Father’s Day if Dad wants something other than a big, red, and fruit bomb-y wine.

Imported by Vos Selections

Welcome back, Domaine Tariquet

domaine tariquetDomaine Tariquet’s 2018 vintages are top-notch and well-worth buying – once again, some of the world’s great cheap wines

The Wine Curmudgeon admits he was worried – would Domaine Tariquet, one of the all-time great cheap wines, still be terrific on its return from importer exile?

Of course. How could I have doubted? This is, after the all, the only cheap wine ever honored with a sonnet.

If anything, the four wines that were sold in the U.S. before the producer lost its importer in 2018 are even a little better than before. The white blend and the rose were always top notch, but the chardonnay and the sauvignon blanc – often inconsistent – are much improved.

Here’s a look at each of the wines, made in France’s Gascony region. There’s also a new one, a sweetish, riesling-style white. The wines are imported by Frederick Wildman & Sons; all are highly recommended:

• Domaine Tariquet Classic 2018 ($10, sample, 10.5%): Fresh, crisp, and low in alcohol – how often does that happen? This vintage’s fruit is a little more lemon-lime than white grapey, but that’s just the wine geek in me. Buy a couple of cases of this white blend, keep them chilled, and enjoy.

• Domaine Tariquet Chardonnay 2018 ($10, sample, 12.5%): This was probably the best of the three whites, which is saying something since it was usually boring and could even be a little off. But this vintage was crisp and aromatic, with almost green apple and a little tropical fruit. If anything, it sort of tasted like chardonnay from France’s Macon, which is always a touchstone of inexpensive quality.

• Domaine Tariquet Sauvignon 2018 ($10, sample, 11.5%): Much better than past vintages, which tended to taste like New Zealand kockoffs. This time, though, the wine had a bit of a grassy aroma, not too much citrus, and a certain Gascon fruitiness.

• Domaine Tariquet Rose 2018 ($10, sample, 12.5%): This pink wine is dry but not Provencal in style. Look for darker fruit, less zippiness on the finish, and a little heft in the mouth. But it’s not heavy so that it’s a rose for red wine drinkers, and so sits somewhere between the Bieler Provencal rose and the Charles & Charles from Washington state.

• Domaine Tariquet Les Premières Grives 2018 ($17, sample, 11.5%): Professionally sweet, with an almost honeyed finish and mostly balanced. It’s a different and interesting wine, in the style of a German just-sweet riesling like a kabinett. The only question: Is it worth $17?

More about Domaine Tariquet:
Domaine Tariquet returns to the U.S.
Domaine Tariquet loses U.S. importer
Wine to drink when the air conditoner is replaced

Can the cat wine demographic save the wine business?

The cat wine demographic is untapped and oh so 21st century, with memes, Instagram and even influencers

Dear wine business:

The Wine Curmudgeon has long been worried about the downturn in U.S. wine sales, what with the Baby Boomers cutting back as they age and the apparent lack of interest among younger consumers.

But I think I’ve found a solution: Cats.

This is an untapped market, save for a few novelty products, and it’s huge – almost 40 million U.S. households have cats. Better yet, cats are hip, with it, and oh so 21st century. How about cat memes? Or the cat channel on Instagram with 10.3 million followers (30 times the number of Wine Spectator followers)?

And there are even cat influencers – Grumpy Cat, called “the Internet’s most famous cat,” received worldwide publicity when he died last month. That included an obituary in the New York Times, and we know how snooty the Times can be.

Plus, the three-tier system is a natural for selling wine to cats. The pet drug supply chain isn’t all that different from three-tier, so vets would understand how to work with all of its legal complications. Why not a wine section next to the fancy collars and upscale treats at the local animal hospital?

And premiumization is spot on for cats. The “pets as part of the family” trend started a decade ago, and it’s still going strong. They get birthday and Christmas presents, they stay at pricey resorts, and they eat like never before. How about cat food made with organic braised chicken or wild-caught salmon? Both are a far cry from the tuna can junk cats used to eat. Given all this, how much trouble could it be to sell a cat a $50 bottle of Napa chardonnay to pair with the salmon? Or even a $75 bottle?

Now I can hear your objections. Cats don’t drink wine. Which is where you’re wrong, and why you should be glad that the Wine Curmudgeon is looking out for your interests.

As the video at the top of the post demonstrates, cats do drink wine. They just need a little encouragement to get them to drink more and to trade up from the box wine in the video. So let the marketing department loose — Cat Nips, a 4-pack of 375 ml cans to take advantage of the canned wine craze. Or, best yet,  an Instagram video featuring a cat influencer like Grumpy Cat sipping a cult Napa cab while lounging on a porch overlooking the winery’s vineyards. Can’t miss, can it?

Remember, if you ever need any more big ideas, I’m always here to help.

Your pal,

The Wine Curmudgeon

Video courtesy of Herman, via YouTube