The Mulderbosch rose demonstrates, once again, that you don’t have to spend more than $10 to get terrific pink wine
Is the Mulderbosch rose pink wine for The Holiday that Must Not be Named? Check.
Does it have a screwcap? Check.
Consistent quality? Check.
Tremendous value? Check.
In other words, South Africa’s Mulderbosch rose ($10, purchased, 12.5%) is everything a great cheap wine should be. And, believe it or not, widely available – grocery stores, even.
The 2017 vintage (which we’re getting now because the southern hemisphere is six months ahead of the northern in the harvest cycle) is much fresher and more flavorful than the 2016 that I tasted at the end of last year. That’s a reminder that most roses don’t age well, and you should always buy the most recent vintage and never one that is more than 18 months old.
The Mulderbosch is an odd rose since it’s made with cabernet sauvignon, which is a heavier-tasting grape than rose needs. But that’s rarely a problem with the wine; this vintage shows a little cabernet zippiness and some blackberry fruit, as well as a classic rose clean finish. Highly recommended, and a candidate for the 2019 $10 Hall of Fame.
Reviews 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.
• Stemmari Nero d’Avola 2014 ($8, purchased, 13%): This Italian red is soft, almost too ripe, and barely recognizable as wine made with the classic Sicilian nero d’avola grape. Not offensive, but this used to be a quality cheap wine. Now it’s just something to drink.
• Mulderbosch Sauvignon Blanc 2016 ($16, sample, 13.5%): The problem with a $16 South African sauvignon blanc like this is that it has to offer more than almost any other sauvignon blanc at the same price. Which, frankly, is difficult to do, as the Mulderbosch shows. It’s well made enough, with lime fruit, but also thin in the middle and back and just not up to something like New Zealand’s Spy Valley or Dry Creek from California.
• Capezzana Monna Nera 2014 ($9, purchased, 13.5%): This Italian red blend is too soft for my taste, without enough Italian-ness or tart cherry fruit. In this, it’s not poorly made, but too international in style (the blend contains almost 50 percent French grapes), and especially with the almost ashy finish.
• Main & Vine Dry Rose NV ($6, sample, 11.1%): This is a fascinating pink effort (a five-grape California blend) from Big Wine, in this case Treasury Wine Estates. It’s not dry, but about as sweet as most sweet reds. Having said that, it’s rose-like and worth the $6 if you want something with a little sugar, but not nearly as sweet as white zinfandel.
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.
This is not the current vintage of South Africa’s Mulderbosch chenin blanc ($12, purchased, 13.5%). In fact, it’s two vintages old; the current is the 2013. But it’s the best I could do in Dallas, where we view chenin blanc as the spawn of the devil and a wine to be ignored at all costs.
Nevertheless, it’s worth reviewing for three reasons: First, because it’s a quality white wine, as almost all Mulderbosch wines are. Second, because there is still a lot of it around, given the way South African wine is viewed by retailers and consumers in this country. Third, because the oh so haute wine bar where I bought it needs to be called out for selling a past vintage at suggested retail when the wine bar almost certainly bought it at a tremendous discount.
The Wine Curmudgeon is a big fan of Mulderbosch, which avoids many of the pitfalls — chasing trends, celebrity wine — that plague other South African producers. Its rose has been in and out of the $10 Hall of Fame (mostly because the price fluctuates), and the chenin is equally as impressive. If nothing else, that a three-year-old wine aged this well speaks volumes about the effort that went into making it.
The Mulderbosch is not fruity, like a California chenin, and it doesn’t have the slate finish that the best French chenins have. Rather, it’s a little rich and leans toward chardonnay, with subtle apple and pear fruit, qualities that almost certainly come from age. It also has an interesting spiciness, as well as a little oak. Given that oak is usually superfluous in this kind of wine, it’s quite well done and adds some heft.
This is real wine — serve it with roasted and grilled chicken, or even main course salads. It deserves more attention and respect than it gets, and especially from a retailer who treats it as a cash cow and not as real wine.
Because rose is no longer the province of cranks like the Wine Curmudgeon, but has become real wine celebrated by the wine establishment.
? Making money with rose: South Africa’s Mulderbosch, whose rose is regularly featured here, has discovered that rose is profitable. Or, as a leading Winestream Media outlet put it, part of the “high-flying rose segment.” Mulderbosch, which did barely any business in the U.S. save for the rose in years past, will see its rose sales in 2014 double the volume it did for all of its wines in 2013. Of course, this being the Winestream Media, the article skirts the reason for the rose’s success, that it’s cheap and tastes good. That’s too much truth, apparently.
? Make it Kosher, please: My pal Lou Marmon has a dry rose, Israel’s Recanati, in his list of value Kosher wines for the Jewish High Holy Days. Lou has always been a rose supporter, and it’s good to see rose making a name for itself in Kosher wine. Which, of course, has too long been seen as nothing more than sweet red.
? Revenge! Which is the Wine Curmudgeon’s poor attempt at a pop culture reference. New York’s Hamptons, home to lots of rich people, Ina Garten of “Barefoot Contessa” cooking show fame, and a very odd network TV series that includes Madeline Stowe, suffered through a rose crisis this summer. The New York Post, whose Page Six was invented to keep track of just such threats to western civilization, reported that there was very little rose to be had over Labor Day weekend. Fortunately, the situation wasn’t as bad as in 2012, when rose was rationed. Who knew? Note to rich people: The next time you run out of rose, go here. Or have your assistant do it. It lists all the rose reviews on the blog, most $10, and you should be able to find one of them the next time rose is rationed.