Tag Archives: prosecco

Winebits 572: Texas ABC, restaurant wine, fake Prosecco

Texas ABCThis week’s wine news: Texas liquor retailer sues the Texas ABC, plus a restaurant tries to solve the industry’s wine problem and Italian authorities seize fake Prosecco

Texas ABC lawsuit: The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, which has been plagued by scandal, mismanagement, and more scandal over the past several years, is in even bigger trouble. Spec’s, the largest independent retailer in the state, has sued the agency for malicious enforcement. The federal lawsuit is the result of the TABC’s attempt to fine Spec’s $700 million after a lenghty investigation a couple of years ago.. The catch? Two judges dismissed the agency’s suit against Spec’s, saying the charges were completely unsubstantiated. Why does this matter to wine drinkers in the rest of the country? Because it might mean the end of the TABC when the state legislature meets early next year. It almost dissolved the agency two years ago, and pressure is mounting to kill it in the upcoming session. If that happens, it will send a message to liquor cops across the country about how they enforce three-tier.

One last chance: An English restaurant chain, emerging from bankruptcy, says its new plan revolves around selling better quality wine. Says the new wine buyer for the Argentine-themed Guacho: “It’s always the big wineries [who are represented] – those who can afford PR, travel and marketing. But there are so many super-interesting smaller wineries in Argentina. It’s my duty to champion those guys. If no one gives them a chance they’re never gonna get an importer.” It’s a fair plan, the idea of moving away from Big Wine, and stands an even better chance of working if the chain keeps fair pricing in mind.

Lots and lots of fake Prosecco: Italian police have seized more than 80,000 cases of Prosecco from two producers. Police said each added extra sugar to the wine during fermentation to increase the alcohol content and exceeded their production quotas. The authorities became suspicious after finding some two tons of sugar at the wineries. No doubt the wineries should have been more subtle.

new year's sparklng wine 2018

New Year’s sparkling wine 2017

New Year's sparkling wine 2017Four New Year’s sparkling wine 2017 recommendations that combine value and quality

Champagne, the sparkling wine from the Champagne region of France, has returned to the blog this year for New Year’s sparkling wine 2017. The good news is that I found some that weren’t the same old stuff and are worth drinking. The bad news is that it’s almost impossible to find quality Champagne for less than $35.

Having said that, there is still lots of value in the blog’s New Year’s sparkling wine 2017 suggestions. This includes California bubbly, usually overpriced but where prices have become almost reasonable. That’s because of grocery store wine sales; the competition they offer has lowered prices.

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

Monistrol Seleccion Especial Brut NV ($9, purchased, 11.5%): This Spanish sparkler shows cava’s greatness and ability to deliver value. It’s less than $10, and you’d never know tasting it blind. Look for bright red apple fruit, pleasing acidity, and a softish finish.

Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut NV ($16, purchased, 12.5%): This California sparkler is one of the world’s great bubbly values — always fresh, always consistent, always enjoyable. Look for lemon and green apple flavors, some stone fruit aromas, and a creamy finish with very tight bubbles. Highly recommended.

Astoria Prosecco NV ($12, sample, 11%): This is one of the best Italian sparkling wines — more than just sweet and soft. Look for lemon and apple fruit, enough sweetness to make you wonder if it is sweet, soft but long-lasting bubbles, and even a sort of minerally finish, which is completely unexpected.

Champagne Collet Brut NV ($39, sample, 12.5%): This is priced like entry-level Champagne, but the quality is much more than that. It’s classic in style, with the brioche aroma, citrus fruit, and a little caramel in the finish. Very well done for the price.

More on New Year’s sparkling wine
New Year’s sparkling wine 2016
New Year’s sparkling wine 2015
New Year’s sparkling wine 2014
Wineof the week: Francois Montand Brut Rose NV
Wine of the week: Juve y Camps Brut Rose NV

Mini-reviews 102: Saint-Cosme, verdejo, rose, Prosecco

saint-cosmeReviews 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.

Saint-Cosme Côtes du Rhône 2016 ($14, purchased, 14%): Second ordinary vintage in a row of one of my favorite French reds. This one, too, doesn’t have enough grip (though there is more than in the 2015). It has quality Rhone cherry fruit and some pepper, but the middle is shallow. Maybe bottle age will help. Imported by Winebow.

Real Compania de Vinos Verdejo 2014 ($10, purchased, 12.5%): This Spanish white is tired and worn out, with a little spice but not much else and none of verdejo’s wonderful fresh character. Beware older vintages of wine you’ve never heard of from producers you don’t know. Imported by Quintessential.

Vignerons de Tavel Le Rosé des Acanthes 2016 ($7.50, purchased, 13%): This French pink isn’t especially crisp, the cherry fruit isn’t all there, and it’s a little stemmy. Having said that, it’s perfectly acceptable for the price. More important, this is the sort of ordinary rose we never saw when pink wasn’t popular. Now, these kinds of wines are all over the place. Imported by Fruit of the Vines.

Cecilia Beretta Prosecco Brut Millesimato 2015 ($15, purchased, 11%): This Italian sparkler is bland and inoffensive, but sufficiently bubbly – about what I have come to expect from Trader Joe’s wines. Imported by Latitude Wines.

Winebits 507: The “They’re writing about cheap wine” edition

writing about cheap wineThe cyber-ether is writing about cheap wine: $5 wine from Target, 50 affordable wines, and Prosecco’s assault on British teeth

Target’s $5 wine: Navigate your way through the sticky writing (who knew a Sagittarius made the best wine snob?), and you get a decent take on Target’s $5 California Roots wines from the Lifehacker website. Which is about what we’ve been discussing here for the past couple of years – uneven quality, even for $5, and cheap wines that use corks instead of screwcaps. Though why people who write about wine who don’t drink much wine always have to apologize for not drinking much wine makes me crazy. You’re a professional – trust your judgment.

50 sort of cheap wines: The Food & Wine magazine list of “50 affordable wines you can always trust,” courtesy of the always dependable Ray Isle, has made another appearance in the cyber-ether (tip o’ the WC’s fedora to my pal Tim McNally for sending it my way). I’d quibble that $17 isn’t especially affordable, but any list that includes Bogle, Yalumba, the Pine Ridge chenin blanc and viognier blend, and the Banfi Centine is worth taking seriously.

Rotting your teeth? No, this is not a Monty Python bit, but an actual warning from British dentists: Prosecco, the cheap Italian sparkling wine, will rot your teeth. “The popular tipple is causing a rather horrifying dental issue being dubbed ‘prosecco smile.’ ” The Wine Curmudgeon, who drinks a fair amount of Prosecco in the line of duty, hasn’t noticed any change to his teeth, but I will monitor the situation and report back if my smile becomes horrifying.

Winebits 479: Prosecco, wine renaissance, Chinese wine

proseccoThis week’s wine news: A winner in the Prosecco war, plus discussion of a U.S. wine renaissance and Chinese wine

Is the Prosecco war over? The Italian Wine Guy looks at the numbers, and by his reckoning, La Marca Prosecco has won the Italian sparkling wine war. In fact, he writes, it may be on its way to becoming the best-selling sparkling wine of any kind in the U.S. “Never have I seen a category so overtaken and dominated in the market since the Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio phenomenon. In fact, the domination is so totally overwhelming that I have tried to advise hopeful producers to bypass the American market. The gates are closed; the wall has already been built.” La Marca, from E&J Gallo, has some 45 percent of the U.S. Prosecco market, and grew 42 percent last year. The post also analyzes how Gallo created the brand to fill a need in the marketplace, and then priced and marketed it successfully.

Wine renaissance? I really want to believe what Matt Brehony writes in this post from The Buzz Bin: “We’re experiencing, what I believe is just the beginning of a renaissance in wine appreciation and consumption throughout the U.S. and beyond.” And he says all the right things about what wine does wrong to hamper its popularity – the foolishness of winespeak, too many cute labels, and so forth. But I’m more doubtful than he is because he doesn’t parse the numbers, the ones that suggest that wine growth in the U.S. has flattened and that the renaissance is a long ways off. Hopefully, I’m wrong, and Brehony sees something that I don’t.

Chinese wine: We’ve heard way too much about the Chinese wine market, Chinese wine, and what Chinese wine drinkers like in the past couple of years, as the wine business falls all over itself to sell wine to the world’s most populous country when they still don’t do a good job of it in this country. Now, British grocer Sainsbury’s is selling Chinese wine – a red blend described as “an elegant expression of Cabernet with an intense, smoky red, packed with blackberries and cassis and a smooth finish.” It sells for £10 (about US$12.50), which given the price and description, sounds like it comes from California’s Paso Robles region. Has the International Style struck again?

Wine of the week: Tiamo Prosecco Extra Dry NV

Tiamo ProseccoCan a sweet Prosecco be enjoyable? Yes, if it’s the Tiamo Prosecco

The Tiamo Prosecco is a sweet wine. There, I said it.

But before you close this page, know that the touch of sweetness is part of the wine, and not added sugar. In this, it’s the way Italian sparkling wine is supposed to be, and one of the reasons that I enjoyed the Tiamo Prosecco ($15, sample, 11%). Balance is all, and especially these days when it can be so difficult to find.

Look for smaller bubbles than in cava, the Spanish sparkling wine, or in Champagne. That’s because Prosecco is made using the charmat method, where the second fermentation that produces the bubbles is done in a tank and not in the bottle. But the Tiamo Prosecco isn’t too light, unlike those Proseccos or other charmat wines where the bubbles fizz about as much as flat Alka-Seltzer.

The sweetness, meanwhile, is offset by citrus and white fruit, as well as a noticeable green apple aroma. Extra dry, in the winespeak that is sparkling wine, means the wine is sweeter than burt, which means dry.

Serve this well chilled, and drink it on its own or with salads or something like roast chicken marinated in rosemary, olive oil, garlic, and lemon juice. That’s what I did, and the pairing reminded me why they matter when you pay attention.

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