Tag Archives: Ken Forrester

Wine for people who don’t drink much wine

people who don't drink much wineThree wines that offer quality and value when you’re serving wine to people who don’t drink much wine

The Wine Curmudgeon has entertained twice in the last month where the guests weren’t professional wine drinkers. That is, they were people who fit the profile of the typical U.S. wine drinker – someone who drinks a bottle of month and isn’t interested in the stuff that keeps wine geeks up at night.

The challenge then: How you buy wine to serve with dinner for people who don’t drink much wine? The goal is to pour something interesting that isn’t stupid or insipid, but won’t intimidate your guests. The key: Keep in mind that you want to serve wine other people will like, and not what you think they should like.

A few suggestions and guidelines:

• Try to stay away from tannins and their bitterness, which may be the most off-putting part of wine for those who don’t drink much of it. But what if you want to serve red wine? Then look for something made with sangiovese, gamay, or tempranillo, like the Capezzana Monna Nera 2016 ($10, purchased, 13.5%). This Italian blend is mostly sangiovese – fresh and well-made with soft cherry fruit. Imported by MW Imports.

• Chardonnay, and especially cheap ones with too much fake oak, can make typical wine drinkers grimace. So can overly tart sauvignon blanc. Hence, chenin blanc like the Ken Forester petit 2017 ($11, purchased, 13.5%). This South African white is a long-time favorite, offering crisp white fruit and a refreshing finish. Imported by USA Wine Imports

• One of the best things about the rose boom? It’s ideal for situations like this. The Moulin de Gassac Guilhem Rose 2017 ($10, purchased, 12%) is a French pink, almost tart and strawberry, and a tad better made than most at this price. Imported by Pioneer Wine Co.

Wine of the week: Ken Forrester Petit Rose 2018

Ken Forrester petit roseThe Ken Forrester petit rose may be the best rose no one has ever heard of

There’s no easy way to say this, so here it is: The Ken Forrester petit rose is a brilliant wine, consistent from year to year, and a tremendous value. But good luck trying to buy it, given the failures of the three-tier system.

In fact, the Ken Forrester petit rose ($10, purchased, 12.5%) is one of several top-notch wines from this outstanding South African producer that are difficult to buy in the U.S. Why? Because it’s South African wine, hardly the darling of the distributors or retailers; because Forrester isn’t a big winery; and because the winery has had importer problems for at least as long as I have been writing about it.

In a perfect world, where we could buy wine the way we buy pants and computers, none of that would matter. But since wine has the three-tier system, we have to make do. Which is a shame, because the rose is everything a great pink wine should be.

Look for strawberry aromas, but not the syrupy, overdone kind that poorly made roses sometimes show. There is fresh, just ripe raspberry fruit flavor, and the finish is precise and almost stony. All in all, the kind of wine to buy again and again. Highly recommended, and a candidate for the 2019 $10 Hall of Fame.

Christmas wine 2017

christmas wine 2017Four choices for Christmas wine 2017 to help you enjoy the holiday

Suggestions for Christmas wine 2017, whether for a last minute gift or for a holiday dinner. As always, keep our wine gift giving tips in mind:

Ken Forrester Petit Rose 2017 ($10, purchased, 13%): Top-notch South African pink from one of my favorite producers. More in the Loire style, even though it uses Rhone grapes (grenache and a little viognier), so less fruit (unripe strawberry) and more stoniness and minerality. Highly recommended. Imported by USA Wine Imports.

Sauzet Puligny-Montrachet 2013 ($79, purchased, 13%): My favorite white Burgundy, and perhaps my favorite chardonnay in the word. This vintage is more tropical than I expected (lime and almost banana fruit), but still crisp, minerally, and white Burgundy-like. And the oak, with hints of pecan and caramel, is a revelation, a master class in how to age wine. A tip o’ the WC fedora to the Big Guy, who brought it to a recent wine lunch. Highly recommended, and especially as a gift for someone who loves wine. Imported by Vineyard Brands.

Bervini Rose Spumante Extra Dry NV ($18, sample, 11%): Old-fashioned Italian bubbly, the kind we drank in the 1960s and ’70s — more fizzy than sparkling, a touch sweet, and balanced with raspberry fruit. It’s well made and fun to drink, but price might turn some people off. Imported by WineTrees USA.

Silver Totem Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 ($16, sample, 13.5%): An amazing Washington state red wine that comes from Big Wine producer Banfi, but tastes like Washington state cabernet. Everything is where it is supposed to be — some heft, some rich dark fruit but not too ripe, and enough acidity so the wine is more than smooth. Highly recommended.

More about Christmas wine:
Christmas wine 2016
Christmas wine 2015
Christmas wine 2014
Expensive wine 101: Franco-Espanolas Bordon Gran Reserva 2005
Expensive wine 104: Dönnhoff Norheimer Kirschheck Riesling Spätlese 2014

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

Wine of the week: Ken Forrester Petit Chenin Blanc 2014

forrester petit chenin blancIn a perfect wine world, the Ken Forrester Petit Chenin Blanc would be on store shelves everywhere, and I wouldn’t have to write this kind of post. Until then, know that this is the kind of wine that I wish more producers made and that my colleagues in the Winestream Media allowed more people to enjoy.

Because the Ken Forrester Petit Chenin Blanc ($11, purchased, 13.5%), from South Africa, is the sort of fresh, crisp, and cheap white wine made with a grape that gets very little respect and that the world needs more of. It’s bright and juicy (peaches?), with a touch of citrus and an almost zesty finish that’s devoid of the bitter, pitty flavors some chenin blanc has. And it’s not sweet, either, with only about as much residual sugar as a typical chardonnay.

Chill this and drink on its own; it’s the kind of wine to keep around the house when you feel like a glass. Or pair it with almost any holiday meal that isn’t red meat, and especially a Christmas turkey or something to make all those leftovers that much more enjoyable.

My tasting notes say “thoroughly delightful,” which goes nicely with the note from the producer (and which are rarely worth quoting): “Should last half an hour with the cap off and reach for the next bottle!”

Wine of the week: Ken Forrester Petit Chenin Blanc 2013

Ken Forrester Petit Chenin Blanc 2009This South African white is one of the world’s great cheap wines. So why did I have to taste it in a restaurant in San Diego, instead of buying it in a store in Dallas?

You know the reason for that: the three tier-system.

But the Wine Curmudgeon will not let that deter him from his life’s work. What’s a constitutionally-protected regulatory system when terrific cheap wine is at stake?

Because the Ken Forrester ($10, purchased, 13%) is terrific — a surprisingly rich mouth feel given this is $10 chenin blanc, plus green apple fruit, a tiny hint of honey in the middle, and even some minerality on the finish. In this, it’s the kind of chenin — not sweet, not syrupy, not a sauvignon blanc knockoff, but with character and interest — that makes me wonder why the grape isn’t more popular. I rarely quote producer websites, but this is spot on: “Perfect everyday drinking wine.”

Especially if you live in the ninth largest city in the country where 100-degree summer days cry out for this kind of wine. Or, as several of my colleagues said when we bought the wine in San Diego, “What do you mean, you can’t buy this in Dallas?” Which, come to think of it, has always been a problem.

Highly recommended, but since it’s not for sale in Dallas, it can’t be in the $10 Hall of Fame. Unless I change the rules, but I don’t run that kind of Hall of Fame.

 

Wine of the week: Ken Forrester Petit Chenin Blanc 2009

Ken Forrester Petit Chenin Blanc 2009 This is not the wine that won a silver medal at this year’s Dallas Morning News wine competition, and which I raved about in February — with the caveat that it probably wouldn’t be available for me to buy.

Sure enough, the Wine Curmudgeon was right (another example of how misguided the wine business can be). But I did find the previous vintage, the 2009 (purchased), for $11 at Whole Foods. And it wasn’t too shabby, either. The 2009 isn’t quite as impressive as the 2010, but for a previous vintage of a simple wine that shouldn’t necessarily last this long, it was nicely done.

Ken Forrester, a South African producer, is known for its expertise with chenin blanc, and would that more wineries took this grape so seriously. The 2009 wasn’t as light as I remember the 2010 being, but it still had lots of steely minerality and tart green apple fruit. And, for those of you who are concerned about these things, it wasn’t sweet at all.

It’s a summer heat wave wine, and there’s nothing wrong with dropping an ice cube in it or keeping it in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. It will pair with grilled chicken breasts and summer salads, and will also be quite welcome after work on its own as you sit out the heat of the day. And, hopefully, the 2010 will show up somewhere soon.