With record temperatures in much of the country this summer, it’s time to update the blog’s porch wine post
Over the years, I’ve gotten less than favorable comments about the idea of porch wine — because, of course, wine is entirely too serious for porch sipping. Sigh. Is it any wonder I worry about the future of the wine business?
Which is just more wine snobbery. Why should the pleasure of a shaded porch and the hint of a cool breeze be reserved for iced tea, beer, and whatever else is currently popular? I find the idea of porch wine especially relevant this summer, what with the record-breaking heat in much of the country, the pandemic, and all of the other foolishness we have had to endure. So, this porch wine update.
So know this about porch wine: It’s about lighter wines, red and white (and of course, rose), that are lower in alcohol and that offer relief from the heat. The idea with a porch wine is to drink something that won’t make the sweat bead on your forehead. The blog’s original porch post is here, and there is even a porch wine terms post.
And it’s OK to add an ice cube. Honest.
• The Beachhouse Sauvignon Blanc 2020 ($10, purchased, 13%): This white is a simple, not too grapefruit-y South African sauvignon blanc, which has an almost pleasant bitterness in the back. The minute I tasted it, I knew it was perfect for this post. Imported by Pacific Highway Wines & Spirits
• Moillard Chablis Coquillage 2018 ($25, purchased, 13%): Yes, this is expensive (though without the Trump tariff, the price may come down). But it’s also a perfect porch wine — well-made chardonnay from the Chablis region of France that is flinty, lemony, crisp. Imported by Advantage International
• Stemmari Sicilia Rose 2019 ($8, purchased, 12%): There’s nothing especially Italian about this pink; it’s just well-made rose in the international style — think Washington state. That means fresh, fruity (strawberry), and clean, but not much esle. Still, it is more than enjoyable. Imported by Prestige Wine Imports
• Domaine de la Pépière Muscadet 2019 ($16, purchased, 12%): Well-executed French white (made with the underrated melon de bourgogne grape) that is round in the mouth, but not soft. There’s a bit of structure and apple and pear fruit. Imported by LDM Wines
Four Thanksgiving wine 2019 suggestions
Thanksgiving is the Wine Curmudgeon’s favorite holiday. When else do we get to get to share lots of wine and good food for no other reason than wine and good food? Plus, there is cooking, and it doesn’t get much better than the way a roasting turkey in the oven makes the house feel. The blog’s guidelines for holiday wine buying are here.
These Thanksgiving wine 2019 suggestions should get you started:
• Maison Albert Bichot Chablis 2016 ($20, purchased, 12.5%): This French white wine, made with chardonnay, gets surprisingly low marks on CellarTracker, the blog’s unofficial wine inventory software. Which is just one example of how useless scores are. This is delicious white Burgundy at a price I can’t imagine, crisp and lemony and minerally. Highly recommended. Imported by European Wine Imports
• Georges Vigouroux Pigmentum Rose 2018 ($10, purchased, 12%): This French pink from the always dependable Georges Vigouroux uses malbec to its best advantage, with not too much dark fruit and a clean and fresh wine. It’s a nice change from everyone making Provencal-style roses. Imported by AP Wine Imports
• Azienda Vitivinicola Tonnino Nero d’Avola 2017 ($14, purchased, 13%): Interesting Sicilian red that more resembles Oregon pinot noir than it does Sicilian nero. It’s more brambly, like berries, than the usual plummy fruit. It’s less earthy, and the acidity is more noticeable. Imported Bacco Wine & Spirits/em>
• Scharffenberger Brut Excellence NV ($20, sample, 12%): California sparkling that tastes like it’s supposed to at a fair value — creamy, yeasty, apple fruit, not too tart, and soft but persistent bubbles. In this, it’s a tremendous value.
More about Thanksgiving wine:
• Thanksgiving wine 2018
• Thanksgiving wine 2017
• Thanksgiving wine 2016
• Wine of the week: Falesco Est! Est!! Est!!! 2017
• Expensive wine 123: Long Meadow Ranch Pinot Noir Anderson Valley 2016
The Dauvissat Chablis is chardonnay that shows why that French region makes such terrific white wine
There are very few values left in high-end French wine (to say nothing of not-so-high-end French wine). But you can still find value from Chablis in Burgundy, like the Dauvissat Chablis.
Yes, $27 seems like a lot to pay for value. But the Dauvissat Chablis ($27, purchased, 12%) is the kind of wine that offers more than you expect. Chablis is chardonnay, but chardonnay usually made with little or no oak. Hence, it’s not only much different from New World chardonnay, much of which is dripping with oak, but it’s also much different from other white Burgundies. That means a steely, very mineral quality, with almost no vanilla or toastiness, but a wine that can still be rich and full.
In other words, chardonnay for those of us who appreciate fruit and less winemaking. The Dauvissat Chablis is just that: Fresh and crisp, with lots of tart green apple fruit, lots of that wonderful Chablis minerality, and nary oak anywhere. The wine combines Chablis tradition, so that it’s clean and almost stony, but with more New World-style and less subtle fruit. It’s an impressive combination, and especially at a price that usually buys very ordinary white Burgundy or even less impressive Napa chardonnay.
Highly recommended, and should age for at least a decade. This is just the bottle for anyone who wants a white wine for Mother’s Day that is more than buttery and caramel.
Imported by Rosenthal Wine Merchants
The Jean-Paul & Benoit Droin Chablis Premier Cru Montmains shows why aging matters in wine, and why we should appreciate it
Perhaps the most important difference between truly great wine and the stuff most of us drink most of the time – and price, sadly, doesn’t much matter here – is that truly great wine ages and changes as it ages. And, like the Benoit Droin Chablis, it usually changes for the better.
The Jean-Paul & Benoit Droin Chablis Premier Cru Montmains 2015 ($47, purchased, 13%) is chardonnay from the Chablis region of Burgundy in France, which makes it white Burgundy. But unlike most white Burgundy, Chablis isn’t oaked. This difference gives it a character of its own – sort of like the Puligny that is my guilty pleasure, but different enough to be a pleasure all its own.
Which brings us to the aging. The Benoit Droin Chablis is still quite young, and it may take 10 more years before it really tastes like Chablis, with the telltale minerality and limestone and almost steely green fruit. But that’s one of the great joys of Chablis, that you can drink it now and sort of see how that will happen to the wine. That this is almost a $50 wine makes it difficult to buy two, wait a couple of years, and see if you’re right. But one learns to live with that.
Having said that, the wine is delicious even without the aging – certainly worth what it costs, and especially for anyone who appreciates white Burgundy (and if you need a last-minute holiday gift). Look for green apple, minerality, and a certain softness that you usually don’t find in Chablis. Until, of course, the wine ages.
Imported by European Cellars/Eric Solomon
The best holiday wine gift advice: Buy what they want, not what you think they should want
Just in time for the blog’s holiday wine gift guide 2016– an article on rightpricewine.com citing the Wine Curmudgeon’s always sensible gift giving advice: “Buy wine that the person would like, not what you think they should like.”
That’s the thought behind this year’s gift suggestions, culled from interviews with retailers and consumers as well as the countless news releases I get during the holiday season. The trend this year? More wine and less accessories, with consumers deciding that gadgets aren’t as enjoyable in 2016 as a quality bottle of wine.
This year’s gift ideas:
• Chablis for the California chardonnay drinker who wants something different. Chablis, chardonnay from Burgundy in France, doesn’t have any oak. That means a more austere and more minerally wine, in contrast to the richer and more buttery California chardonnays. One possibility: Jean-Pierre Grossot Chablis, about as much of a steal as a $20 wine can be.
• Trade up a cabernet sauvignon drinker who wants something more complex. The Faust, from Napa Valley, is the sort of $50 wine I wish I got to taste more often. It’s firmly rooted in Napa, made in a decidedly New World style, but it also shows that quality wine is about more than just flashy fruit.
• Koval rye whiskey, because the WC does not live by wine alone. I’ve been a rye drinker since the bad old days, when all you could find was what we fondly called Old Overcoat. The craft spirits boom has changed that, and the Koval ($50) is rye that is more than a bourbon knockoff, something spicy and intriguing.
More holiday wine gift guides
• Holiday wine gift guide 2015
• Holiday wine gift guide 2014
• Holiday wine gift guide 2013
• Expensive wine 89: Bonny Doon Old Telegram 2014
• Expensive wine 82: Anne Amie Winemaker’s Select Pinot Noir 2012