Tag Archives: Cava

new year's sparklng wine 2018

New Year’s sparkling wine 2016

New Year's sparkling wineFour New Year’s sparkling wine recommendations that combine value and quality

If you want Champagne recommendations for the New Year, you’ll have to go here. Champagne? We don’t need no stinkin’ Champagne.

In fact, even without the Wine Curmudgeon’s Champagne boycott, the sparkling wine from the Champagne region of France keeps getting more expensive and doesn’t show any real improvement in quality to match the higher prices. And the bargain Champagnes on the market, the ones that cost around $20 or $25? When a $20 wine is touted a bargain, that’s all you need to know.

Hence my sparkling wine 2016 recommendations, which focus on affordability and value.

Also handy: The blog’s annual wine gift guidelines and the sparkling wine primer.

Camino Calixo Brut NV ($10, purchased, 11.5%): Very lemony dry Spanish bubbly with tight bubbles and crisp finish. Think of it as a softer version of Hall of Fame standby Cristalino. It’s more of a food wine than I expected, so consider this for a New Year’s brunch.

Carpene Malvolti 1868 Extra Dry NV ($16, sample, 11.5%): This Italian Prosecco isn’t as sweet – extra dry means sweeter than brut, which means dry – as some brut Proseccos. Very well done, with lemon fruit and a creaminess you don’t usually find in this price of wine.

Valdo Prosecco Brut NV ($12, sample, 11%): This year’s bottle was more Champagne-like than last year’s, which wasn’t a bad thing. It was firmer, with more structure, less sweet citrus fruit, and an appealing character that said, “This is more than a cheap Prosecco.” Highly recommended.

Gérard Bertrand Brut Rosé Cuvée Thomas Jefferson 2013 ($16, purchased, 12%): This French cremant (a sparkling wine from a region that isn’t Champagne) had tight bubbles and cherry fruit. It’s an intriguing wine, made with chardonnay and pinot noir just like Champagne. I would have preferred less chardonnay, which made it rounder, and more chenin blanc, the third grape in the blend.

More on New Year’s sparkling wine
New Year’s sparkling wine 2015
New Year’s sparkling wine 2014
New Year’s sparkling wine 2013
Wine of the week: Segura Viudas Brut Rose NV
Wine of the week: Vega Barcelona Seleccion NV

Wine of the week: Perelada Brut Rosado NV

Perelada Brut RosadoWant value and quality? Then the Perelada Brut Rosado is a holiday must

The wine business, and especially the Champagne part of it, has taught us that sparkling wine matters only if it’s made with chardonnay or pinot noir. The Perelada Brut Rosado is here to say otherwise.

It’s made with garnacha, the Spanish version of the grape that produces a wonderfully ripe, cherry-ish flavor, less subtle than pinot noir’s more elegeant cherry. But it’s perfect for the Perelada Brut Rosado ($10, purchased, 11.5%).

That’s because cava, the Spanish sparkling wine, can be a little tonic-like in the wrong hands. The traditional cava grapes offer freshness, some lemon, and not much else if the winemaker isn’t careful. But the way the garnacha is used here fills out the wine, and makes it even fresher and more fun.

Drink this chilled anytime you want bubbly, whether to celebrate over the next week, or because it’s Tuesday night. Highly recommended, and a candidate for the 2017 $10 Hall of Fame when it debuts next week.

Wine and food pairings: One Thanksgiving turkey, five dinners, five wines

five dinners, five wines

Who knew this turkey would lend itself to five dinners and five wines?

What do with a 20-pound turkey? Use it to for five dinners paired with five wines

This year, the Wine Curmudgeon’s Thanksgiving turkey weighed 20 pounds. My old pal Jim Serroka, who shares holiday cooking duties with me, wanted lots of turkey for leftovers. Needless to say, we got them – as well as another post in the blog’s wine and food pairings series: One entree that can be turned into five dinners with five wines.

The goal here was to pair quality cheap wine with the leftovers as simply as possible – no wine geek for advice, no examining the turkey’s entrails for wines to drink. My wine and food pairings:

• The Thanksgiving turkey. Roasted with lots of herbs and vegetables, and stuffed with the Kleinpeter family’s traditional chicken cornbread dressing. I picked three wines; two were disappointing, proving that even I can over-think wine and food pairings. But the third was an old pal, the $16 Clos de Gilroy grenache from Bonny Doon. How winemaker Randall Graham gets cherryish fruit, a little earthiness, some white pepper, and a delightful freshness from California grenache is beyond my understanding, but I’m glad he does.

• Turkey rice cake. One of my great cooking discoveries was that rice freezes. Make eight cups in the rice cooker, divide it into 2- or 3-cup packages, freeze, and thaw when necessary. This was chopped leftover turkey, some of the roasted vegetables, and an egg mixed with rice; basically the same thing I did with noodles for the roast chicken post. The wine was a sample, the $25 Markham merlot – dependable and high quality and what California merlot is supposed to taste like – lighter and more approachable than cabernet sauvignon, with dark fruit and subtler tannins. And it didn’t overwhelm the rice cakes.

• Turkey sausage okra gumbo. I’ve been making this with leftover Thanksgiving turkey since I moved to Dallas, so long ago the city had two newspapers. It’s more or less the classic recipe – make the roux, add chopped onions, celery, bell pepper, and garlic, stir, add the stock, stir, add the okra, let it simmer, and finish with the sausage and turkey. And no tomatoes – absolutely, positively no tomatoes. The wine was an $8 Rivarey Crianza, a tempranillo from the Rioja region of Spain. It was simple and fruity, but with enough structure and backbone for the dark, smoky gumbo.

• Baked turkey Reubens. This is a Siegel family tradition; my Dad made these when I was a kid using Pepperidge Farm brown and serve rolls and leftover Thanksgiving turkey. It’s sliced turkey breast, quality Swiss cheese, canned and drained sauerkraut, and my Dad’s thousand island dressing (his secret ingredient was lime juice). Make the sandwich, wrap in foil, and bake until crusty. And what better wine than rose? The Ned, a $12 New Zealand pink wine, did the trick, and it will be even better in six months. This was a 2016, and had only been in the bottle for six or eight weeks.

• Turkey torte. This sort of baked Spanish-style omelette is usually made with potatoes, but turkey (with sauteed onions and peppers) works well, too. I drank a bottle of cava, a $10 Spanish sparkler called – believe it or not – Lady of Spain. The wine has been inconsistent, but this bottle was very cava-like, with tight bubbles and lemon fruit. And, of course, Spanish wine with a Spanish dish, one of the ways to make pairings work with less trouble.

More on five dinners, five wines
One chicken, five dinners, five wines
One pork shoulder, five dinners, five wines

Wine of the week: Segura Viudas Brut Rose NV

Segura Viudas Brut RoseThe Segura Viudas Brut Rose can make even a curmudgeon happy.

There are days when even I am worn out by my whining and carping and complaining, about trying to save the wine business from itself, about beating my head against Google’s Internet Iron Curtain. That’s when I buy a bottle of the Segura Viudas brut rose and appreciate some truly great cheap wine.

The Segura Viudas brut rose ($8, purchased, 11.5%) is one of the handful of cheap wines that shows what happens when a producer – even a gigantic one like Segura owner Freixenet – cares more about quality than focus groups. I’ve been drinking this Spanish sparkling wine (as well as the Segura brut) since before I started the blog, and it has never let me down.

It has changed over the years, becoming a touch softer and with less acidity than other cavas, but it remains cava and not some bastardized knockoff. Look for bright red fruit, a rich, bubbly mouth feel, and that particular fresh and minerally cava finish. How this is done for less than $10, when much inferior Prosecco costs $12 and $15, is something that even baffles me – and I’m supposed to know these things.

Highly recommended, and it will take its rightful place in the 2017 $10 Hall of Fame in January. Drink this chilled on its own, or with almost any food imaginable, including big red meat.

Wine of the week: Cristalino Brut Rose NV

How impressive is the Cristalino Brut Rose? It has remained one of the best buys in the wine world despite corporate upset and a lawsuit that forced it to change its name; the arrival of more hip and expensive cavas, the Spanish sparkling wine; and the usual changing of wine tastes.

Somehow, though, the Cristalino Brut Rose ($10, purchased, 11.5%) is still the kind of wine you can buy without a second thought, knowing you’ll get value for money and that it will be fun to drink. I’m convinced that the secret, other than Cristalino’s commitment, is using the trepat grape, which tempers the wine’s fruitiness and adds a layer of Spanishness.

This is a clean and crisp wine with tight bubbles, some cranberry and cherry fruit, and even a little toastiness, which one usually doesn’t get in a $10 bubbly. Drink this chilled on its own, or with almost any kind of meal that isn’t beefy red meat. It’s terrific with takeout Chinese, fried chicken, or hamburgers. Highly recommended, and assured of its place in the $10 Hall of Fame for another year.

Wine of the week: Segura Viudas Gran Cuvee Reserva NV

Segura Viudas Gran Cuvee ReservaGiven Segura Viudas’ $10 Hall of Fame reputation, it’s no surprise that the new Segura Viudas Gran Cuvee Reserva is another top-notch wine.

I say this even though the Gran Cuvee Reserva ($14, purchased, 12%) is the company’s attempt at trading consumers up, and we all know how the Wine Curmudgeon feels about premiumization. And, to make matters worse, it includes a little chardonnay and pinot noir, two grapes that sometimes show up in cava and rarely add much more than a flabby sweetness.

This time, though, the result is a more elegant, Champagne-like cava — which, of course, I should have expected given Segura’s devotion to quality. Look for some crisp apple, tart lemon, and even a hint of berry fruit, as well as a creamy mousse and a bit of yeasty aroma. Plus, it still has all those wonderful tight bubbles.

This is a step up from the regular Segura and well worth the extra three or four dollars. Highly recommended, whether you’re toasting the New Year in a couple of days or you feel like sparkling wine to brighten a gloomy winter’s day. I drank this with my annual holiday gumbo (chicken, sausage, and okra, made in the finest Cajun tradition, including a nutty, chocolate-colored roux) and my only regret was that I didn’t have a second bottle to drink.

new year's sparklng wine 2018

New Year’s sparkling wine 2015

New Year's sparkling wine 2015The Wine Curmudgeon will soon start the second year of his Champagne boycott, and I can’t say I’ve missed spending lots of money for wine that — as terrific as it can be — is almost never a value. With that in mind, here are my annual New Year’s sparkling wine suggestions, focusing on affordable bubbly that also offers value.

Also handy: The blog’s annual wine gift guidelines and the sparkling wine primer.

  • Barefoot Bubbly Brut Cuvee ($10, sample, 11.5%): Every time I taste this California sparkler, and I taste it a couple of times a year, I’m always stunned at how well made it is. Even though it’s charmat, a less sophisticated production method than methode champenoise, the bubbles are still tight and the wine isn’t flabby or too sweet. Look for crisp apple fruit and a little creaminess, and serve well chilled.

Fantinel Prosecco Extra Dry NV ($15, sample, 11.5%): The Champagne boycott has forced me to spend more time with Prosecco, and I’m glad I did, discovering wines that were neither too soft or too simple and demonstrating again one should taste the wine before judging it. The Fantinel, though it’s labeled extra dry, is not appreciably sweeter than many bruts, and it features a flowery aroma and well done tropical fruit.

Mistinguett Cava Brut NV ($12, sample, 12%): Yet another Spanish bubbly that is simple but well-made and well worth the price. It’s got some sort of lemon-lime thing going on, but not too sweet and with a refreshing pop to it. Probably a little more Prosecco like than most cavas, but not unpleasant in the least.

Pierre Boniface Les Rocailles Brut de Savoie NV ($15, purchased, 12%): This cremant from the Savoie region (cremant is French sparkling wine not from Champagne) is made with jacqure, altesse, and chardonnay, so regular visitors know I would like it just for the two odd grapes. But it shows a touch of sweetness, some fresh white fruit, and a very intriguing minerality. It probably needs food, which you can’t say about most bubbly.

More about New Year’s sparkling wine:
New Year ?s sparkling wine 2014
New Year ?s sparkling wine 2013
New Year ?s sparkling wine 2012
Wine of the week: Astoria Prosecco NV
Wine of the week: Casteller Cava NV