Tag Archives: Australian wine

Winebits 558: Kent Rosenblum, North Dakota wine, Australian prosecco

kent rosenblumThis week’s wine news: Zinfandel icon Kent Rosenblum dies, plus North Dakota wine and a tussle over Italian-style sparkling wine made in Australia

Kent Rosenblum dies: One of the country’s greatest zinfandel winemakers died last week; the Rosenblum zinfandel, along with Ridge and Ravenswood, paved the way for today’s zinfandel boom. But that was not Kent Rosenblum’s only legacy. He was one of the most humble people I’ve ever met in the wine business. I rode an elevator with Kent, who was a vet long before he was a winemaker, shortly after he sold the company to Diageo in 2008 for $105 million. He was schlepping wine boxes to a trade tasting. “Dr. Rosenblum, I said, “why are you carrying your own boxes? Don’t you have people to do that for you now?” He looked a little sheepish, and said, “Why would I ask anyone else to do this?”

Bring on North Dakota wine: Researchers in North Dakota want to boost the state’s wine business, in another victory for Drink Local. “”Everyone is interested in expanding our industry in North Dakota for wineries and for tourism,” said one state official. Which, of course, is just what the WC likes to hear. The biggest problem in North Dakota, not surprisingly, is the weather, which is too cold for most wine grapes. But state researchers are working with a variety of cold climate hybrids to find the best for the climate. Currently, the state has 16 wineries.

How do you say Prosecco in Aussie? Australian bubbly may be one of the sticking points in trade negotiations between their country and the European Union. The Australians sell a wine called Australian Prosecco, which is illegal under European trade rules – the same law that prohibits California producers from calling their wine Champagne under a U.S.- European Union agreement. Why the Australian objection to the name rule for something that’s settled in much of the world? More wine labeled Australian Prosecco is sold in Australia than the Italian kind, and the former don’t want to lose that market.

Mini-reviews 111: Geyser Peak, Castle Rock, Ranch 32, Tyrell’s

geyser peakReviews of wines that don’t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another. Look for it on the fourth Friday of each month. This, month, a highly recommended white and red:

Geyser Peak Chardonnay Water Bend 2016 ($18, sample, 14.5%): California white that tastes like coconut and pineapple – another example of the post-modern, better living through winemaking approach that dominates so much wine at this price. Coconut and pineapple are ideal for an ice cream sundae, but probably not the way chardonnay should taste.

Castle Rock Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2016 ($15, sample, 13.5%): This vintage of the Oregon red is not what the 2015 was, unfortunately – a little brambly black fruit aroma, but too heavy and not very interesting. It tastes like it has lots of something in it besides pinot noir, a practice that is legal and not uncommon for less expensive pinot noirs.

Ranch 32 Pinot Noir 2016 ($17, sample, 13.5%) If all $17 wine tasted like this California red, I wouldn’t rant about $17 wine. It’s got actual pinot noir character – almost silky, with precise black fruit and actual oak that lends to the wine and doesn’t dominate it. Highly recommended.

Tyrell’s Semillon 2016 ($22, purchased, 11%): This white is another brilliant Australian wine that was lost in the disaster that was 15 percent shiraz and that the Aussie wine business is still recovering from. It’s somehow balanced, soft and crisp and with lots of fresh stone fruit, and balanced. Highly recommended. Imported by Broadbent Selections

Father’s Day wine 2018

Father's Day wine 2018Father’s Day wine 2018: Four wines that offer quality and value — because that’s what Dad taught you

The Father’s Day wine 2018 news releases have been landing in my mailbox for a month or so, and most of them bore me to tears. I mention this not to bash wine marketing again, but to note that the releases don’t understand what Dad wants. It’s not about spending money; it’s about value and pleasure.

Which is the point of this year’s Father’s Day wine post. 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.

This year’s Father’s Day wine suggestions:

d’Arenberg The Footbolt 2014 ($18, sample, 14.6%): Australian shiraz’s fall from grace should not apply to d’Arenberg, an Aussie producer that makes some of the most interesting red wine in the world. d’Arenberg does it by combining terroir, top quality grapes, and — believe it or not  —  high alcohol in a fresh and intriguing fashion. This is shiraz for people who love wine, and not booze. Highly recommended. Imported by Old Bridge Cellars

Peter Zemmer Pinot Grigio 2017 ($15, sample, 13.5%): Prices for this Italian white are all over the place — probably because it’s more than the citrus-flavored tonic water of cheaper pinot grigios. Look for some lemon fruit and minerality, plus something that can only be called character. Imported by HB Wine Merchants

Zolo Signature Rose 2017 ($10, purchased, 12.9%): This Argentine pink reminds me why I love wine — a $10 wine bought with no expectations and that gave me more than a bottle of enjoyment. It’s a syrah blend with lots of just ripe strawberry fruit, but not too heavy, too fruity, or sweet at all. Highly recommended. Imported by Vino del Sol

Gloria Ferrer Brut Rose NV ($25, sample, 12.5%): I drank this at the Friday night reception at this year’s Critic’s Challenge. And then I drank some more. And some more. It’s beautiful, well-made, and delicious — tight bubbles, strawberry aroma, and soft red fruit flavors. Highly recommended.

More Father’s Day wine:

Father’s Day wine 2017
Father’s Day wine 2016
Father’s Day wine 2015
Expensive wine 106: Graham’s 20-year-Tawny Port

Mini-reviews 103: Black Friday 2017

Black Friday 2017Reviews of wines that don’t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another. Look for it on the fourth Friday of each month. This month: two reds and two whites for Black Friday 2017

Bollini Pinot Grigio 2016 ($12, sample, 13%): Ordinary, tonic-water style Italian pinot grigio of the kind that other producers sell for $8 or $9. Imported by Kobrand

Ferrari-Carano Pinot Grigio 2016 ($14, sample, 13.7%): Decent enough pinot grigio at a fair price, but nothing that makes it scream, “Buy me!” unless you really like pinot grigio. A step up from the Bollini, and with more California style – some lime and green apple fruit.

Bogle Vineyards Phantom 2014 ($19, sample, 14.5%): Bogle does premiumization with this red – a rich, thick zinfandel blend that is very Lodi in style. It’s well made and delivers value, as all Bogle wines do, but you have to like this kind of wine. Don’t expect any elegance or subtlety.

Wakefield Shiraz 2015 ($17, sample, 14%): This Australian red is more interesting, less audacious, and more enjoyable than the too hot, too fruity, and too big shirazes of 10 and 15 years ago. It’s still big, with luxurious black fruit, but those qualities are part of the wine – balanced by restrained oak and silky tannins — and not it’s reason for being. Imported by Seaview Imports

Wine of the week: Yalumba Y Series Rose 2016

Yalumba Y series roseThe Yalumba Y series rose is a top-notch $10 wine that is just what Thanksgiving requires

Of all the best things about the rose boom, perhaps the best of the best is that roses that were difficult to find before aren’t anymore. I haven’t seen the Yalumba rose, a long-time favorite, in years. But there it was on the store shelf, just in time for Thanksgiving.

The Yalumba Y series rose ($10, purchased, 12%) has almost always been as well made as it has been difficult to find. I asked a Yalumba official about this a couple of years ago, and she said its availability in the U.S. was limited because of importer problems. But given rose’s surge in popularity, even that has apparently been surmounted.

The Australian-made Yalumba, composed of sangiovese, can be one of the world’s great roses when all comes together. The 2016, a previous vintage since it comes from the southern hemisphere, is close to that – still bracingly fresh, with unripe cherry fruit, a wonderful mouth feel, minerality on the back, and all in balance.

Highly recommended, and almost sure to join the 2018 $10 Hall of Fame. In a time when cheap wine quality seems to be a memory, Yalumba understands that $10 and quality are not contradictions.

Imported by Negociants USA

Thanksgiving wine 2017

thanksgiving wine 2017Four Thanksgiving wine 2017 suggestions

Thanksgiving is the blog’s favorite holiday, and might be the greatest wine holiday in the world. That’s because families and friends get to share lots of  wine, and because Thanksgiving isn’t about money, showing off, or big-screen plasma TVs. Instead, it’s about being thankful that we can be together to enjoy the holiday. The blog’s guidelines for holiday wine buying are here.

This year’s Thanksgiving wine 2017 suggestions are just a start:

Ken Forrester Petit Rose 2017 ($10, purchased, 13%): Always well made pink wine from a South African producer with impeccable taste (the chenin blanc is worth buying, too). It’s a blend of grenache and a little viognier, so there is less fruit (unripe strawberry?) than expected and more stoniness and minerality. Highly recommended. Imported by USA Wine Imports.

Wakefield Promised Land Riesling 2016 ($12, sample, 12,5%): This is just what a cheap Aussie riesling should be — and what we don’t get enough of in this country, where riesling is about sweetness for sweetness’ sake. Look for lemon-lime fruit, a little petrol aroma and a surprisingly full mouth feel, some sparkle, and hint of sweetness. Highly recommended. Imported by Seaview Imports.

Masi Campofiorin Rosso del Veronese 2014 ($17, sample, 13%): If all $17 wine had this much character and interest, then I wouldn’t be complaining about $17 wine. Rich, concentrated red corvina fruit, plus Italian earthiness and not too much acidity. Balanced and very nicely done; an ideal turkey wine. Imported by Kobrand.

Naveran Cava Brut 2015 ($15, purchased, 12%): Maybe one of the best cavas in the world, and certainly one of the best sparkling wines given the price. A knockout, even with the usual high quality of cava — lots of crispness, plenty of tight bubbles, and some sweetish apple fruit. In this, it is a fuller, richer wine than the $10 bottles that I usually drink. Imported by Ole Imports.

More about Thanksgiving wine:
Thanksgiving wine 2016
Thanksgiving wine 2015
Thanksgiving wine 2014

Mother's Day wine

Mother’s Day wine 2017

mother's day wine 2017Four suggestions for Mother’s Day wine 2017

The same lesson applies for this, the Wine Curmudgeon’s 11th annual Mother’s Day wine post, that applied to the previous 10. Buy Mom something she will like, and not something you think she should drink. Our Mother’s Day wine gift giving guidelines are here; the idea is to make her happy, not to impress her with your wine knowledge. She’s your Mom – she’s impressed already.

These Mother’s Day wine suggestions should get you started:

Pewsey Vale Dry Riesling 2015 ($16, sample, 12.5%): Australian rieslings are some of the least known quality wines in the world, because who associates riesling and Australia? This white shows why the wines offer so much quality at more than a fair price: dry, crisp, lemon and lime fruit, and a certain zestiness. Highly recommended.

Cristalino Rose Brut NV ($9, sample, 12%): Every time I taste this Spanish cava, or sparkling wine, I am amazed at how well made it is, and especially how well made it is for the price. No wonder it has been in the $10 Hall of Fame since the beginning. Tight bubbles, red and citrus fruit, and perfect for Mother’s Day brunch.

Mulderbosch Cabernet Sauvignon Rose 2016 ($10, sample, 12.5%): This South African pink is tighter and more closed this year, and the weight of the cabernet is more obvious. Having said that, it’s still a fine, fresh rose, with dark red fruit and a little spice and what could even be tannins in the back that add a little interest.

Bravium Pinot Noir 2015 ($30, sample, 12.5%): This California red is nicely done, a varietally correct pinot from the well-regarded Anderson Valley and more or less worth what it costs. Some earth, red fruit and even a hint of orange peel.

More about Mother’s Day wine:
Mother’s Day wine 2016
Mother’s Day wine 2015
Mother’s day wine 2014
Wine of the week: Anne Amie Cuvee Muller Thurgau 2015