You don’t have to buy Dad another tie. Wouldn’t he prefer wine?
Tired of ties? Worn out from from all those cheesy department store Father’s Day TV commercials? That’s what wine is for — to make Father’s Day 2014 more fun for everyone involved. 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.”
Some wine to consider for Father’s Day 2014:
? Juv y Camps Brut Nature Gran Reserva 2008 ($14, purchased, 12%): Delicious and surprisingly sophisticated cava — sparkling wine from Spain — with all sorts of things going on, including honey in the back, some citrus in the front, and even a little minerality. Toast Dad with this one, and impress everyone.
? Ch teau du Donjon Minervois Ros 2013 ($10, purchased, 12.5%): Look for sour cherry fruit and some minerality, though a bit thin in the middle. This is not so much a problem with the wine but with the quality of $10 rose, because the wine is quite tasty.
? Robert Oatley Wild Oats Shiraz 2011 ($15, sample, 13.5%): Lots of spice to go with the fruity Australian style (berries?). This is a wine that shiraz lovers will enjoy, as well as those of us who don’t like the style. A fine value, and highly recommended.
? Solena Pinot Gris 2012 ($17, sample, 13.5%) Top-notch Oregon pinot gris (apples, crispy, refreshing) that shows what the state can do with this grape. A bit pricey, but a fine gift for dads who like this kind of wine.
One of the the things that California winemakers rarely have to worry about is weather. It ?s almost always ideal for growing grapes, and is one reason why the technical quality of California wine is the best in the world. Never a flaw, never a missed beat.
That wasn ?t the case in 2010, which was unusually cool and even wet. This meant that winemakers couldn ?t let the fruit stay on the vine until it ripened and then ripened some more, the process that helps produce the telltale richness and fruitiness that expensive California wine is famous for.
Some winemakers made up the difference with their bag of tricks; I ?ve tasted reds and even whites with high alcohol and extracted fruit from the 2010 vintage, which wasn ?t supposed to happen. But we need to get those scores, don ?t we?
And then there are wines like the Stag ?s Leap ($53, sample, 13.9%), which tastes like one would expect given the weather: less fruity and less rich (though, in keeping with the winery ?s style, still reasonable alcohol levels). It smells like typical Napa Valley cabernet, fruity and spicy, but it doesn ?t taste like it. The black fruit is subdued and the tannins are subtle and stay well in the back. The wine lacks a red Bordeaux ?s earthiness, but tasting this blind might confuse more than one person.
This is red meat wine for Father ?s Day — and especially for dads who don ?t judge wine before they taste it or expect all pricey California reds to taste the same every time. Vintage difference is not necessarily a bad thing.
Periodically, someone will ask me why I do these posts. Who, they ask, buys wine for Father ?s Day? My answer: Who wouldn ?t buy wine for Father ?s Day, especially if Dad is a wine drinker?
In this process, keep our wine gift-giving guidelines in mind — “Don’t buy someone wine that you think they should like; buy them what they will like.”
Some wine to get you started:
? Bonny Doon Clos de Gilroy 2010 ($18, purchased, 13.1%): Dark, earthy and spicy, with the syrah and cinsault in the blend playing off the fruitiness of the grenache. Another winner from Randall Grahm.
? Beronia Gran Reserva 2006 ($25, sample, 14%): A bigger and fruitier wine, with more vanilla, than a traditional Rioja (the red wine made with tempranillo from Spain). But it ?s well done and not as New World as so many others. Plus, a terrific barbecue wine.
? Charles & Charles Rose 2012 ($10, sample, 12.9%): This is one of my favorite roses, dry but fruity, with lots of strawberry. It ?s made in what can only be described as the classic New World style, and is one of the best reasons I can I think of to drink rose. And only 12.9% alcohol ? take that, California.
Every once in a while, the Wine Curmudgeon is lucky enough to meet someone like Pio Boffa, whose family has owned Italy ?s Pio Cesare in the Piedmont for 130 years. The only thing more interesting than the conversation was the wine.
Every wine we had (even the Oltre, which is made for U.S. palates), was worth writing about. And I ?ll probably get to several of them over the next couple of months. My favorite, though, was the Barbaresco ($65, sample). It ?s not enough to say that this is classic Barbaresco that will only get better with age and in 30 years should be a gorgeous wine. That ?s what all great Barbaresco should do.
Rather, what struck me about this wine is that it was greater than the sum of its parts. All of the things a great Barbaresco requires were there ? the cherry fruit (almost sweet, believe it or not); the black pepper spice and Italian acidity; and the mineral finish that you can still taste a couple of swallows later. But they weren ?t what made it what it was. There was something else going on that was difficult to pin down. If that seems too vague to make sense, then accept it as part of the mystery of a great wine.
Frankly, given how much ordinary wine costs $65, this is a bargain. And, as Boffo reminded me several times during lunch, though this wine will improve with age, it’s accessible and ready to drink now. Think rib eye and a Father ?s Day dinner. Highly recommended, and one of the best ones I have ever had.
What, you don ?t think wine and Father ?s Day are a good fit? Then you don ?t know all of the dads that I know, since they find wine a fine gift at any time. Whatever you do, though, keep our wine gift-giving guidelines in mind — “Don’t buy someone wine that you think they should like; buy them what they will like.”
These suggestions should get you started:
? Hey Mambo Sultry Red ($12, sample): Red California table wine that deserves better than its hokey back label. Simple, basic, and fulfilling, with enough black fruit to be noticeable, but not so much that it tastes like a juice box. Pair with grilled sausages, and don ?t be afraid to chill it a little.
? Bodega Amalaya Tinto ($17, sample): Much better than than I thought it would be, with sweet cherry fruit that was more bright than stewed (which can be a problem with Argentine malbecs). It was still soft, but pleasantly so. A terrific barbecue wine.
? Lucien Albrecht Cremant d ?Alsace Brut Rose NV ($17, sample): The decline in the euro means this sparkling wine may return to more affordable territory, which is worth waiting for. Crisp and bubbly and refreshing, with subtle cranberry and cherry fruit and just the thing for a hot summer Sunday.
A few thoughts for the wine-loving Dad in your life, and remember the wine gift-giving guidelines. The most important? Buy wine that Dad likes, not wine that you think he should like:
? d'Arenberg The Hermit Crab 2009 ($14, sample): Today's metaphysical wine question: Why does Australia bother with so much of the "wine" that it makes when it can do white Rhone blends like this? Crisp, clean and refreshing, with a bit of lime and peach. May be able to find this for as little as $12.
? Project Paso Red 2009 ($14, sample): Decent value for what it is, with lots of red fruit (though not much to differentiate it from other wines in its class). A good choice if it shows up on a restaurant wine list. And let's not forget the zork closure.
? J Pinot Noir Nicole's Vineyard 2007 ($50, sample): Pricey yes, but top-notch California pinot noir with some earthiness in front, quality black fruit throughout (and not too much of it), and a long, terroir-driven finish. Just a lovely wine.