Tag Archives: red wine

Wine of the week: Falesco Vitiano Rosso 2015

Falaseco Vitiano RossoThe Falaseco Vitiano Rosso may be the world’s greatest cheap red wine

The Wine Curmudgeon doesn’t get to taste the Falaseco Vitiano Rosso much anymore. That’s one of the drawbacks about what I do; the blog needs to be fed, and that means a constant stream of new and different wines.

So when I do get to taste the Vitiano ($10, purchased, 13.5%), it’s even more of a treat. This Italian red is one of the world’s great cheap wines, and it’s not going too far to call it one of the world’s great wines regardless of price. It has everything a great wine should have: varietal correctness, terroir, and honesty. The Cotarella family, which makes these wines, believes in value for money. They don’t skimp on what’s inside the bottle, regardless of price.

The Falaseco Vitiano Rosso is a blend – one-third sangiovese, one-third merlot, and one-third cabernet sauvigon. The 2015 vintage is a little heavier than previous vintages, which isn’t a bad thing. That makes it more of a food wine, and it needs red sauce, sausages, and the like. In fact, as cool weather returns, drink this with a braised pot roast cooked with garlic, tomatoes, herbs, and red wine.

Since it’s heavier, look for more plum than cherry fruit and a deeper, darker approach to the winemaking. Having said that, the wine isn’t too tannic or too tart, and all is in balance. Which is what I expect from the Cotarella family.

Highly recommended, and it will return to the $10 Hall of Fame next year. It’s also a candidate for the 2019 Cheap Wine of the Year.

Wine of the week: Matua Pinot Noir 2016

matua pinot noir

Believe it or not, the Matua pinot noir is quality and value from Big Wine. Maybe there’s hope for the wine business after all

It’s understandable if any you reading this are convinced the Wine Curmudgeon has moved on to legal weed. Frankly, I’m as surprised as you are. How could Treasury Wine Estates, the No. 4 wine producer in the world, make the Matua pinot noir, which is varietally correct, shows a bit of terroir, and doesn’t cost $18? The wine world just doesn’t work that way these days.

But all of that is true. Somehow, the same multi-national that has given us zombie labels and the “we’ll make it just a little bit sweeter” 19 Crimes red blend has also given us the New Zealand Matua pinot noir ($13, sample, 12.5%). Maybe there’s hope for the wine business after all.

This wine is a stunner. It’s pinot noir in the New World style, so not earthy or funky. But it doesn’t have the overripe fruit, too much oak, or harsh, cheap, cabernet-like tannins of many so-called New World pinots. In this, it tastes like pinot noir from New Zealand, with zingy berry fruit, an almost silky mouth feel, and a clean and refreshing finish.

Highly recommended — plus, it should be in a lot of grocery stores. Drink this on its own or with burgers, takeout pizza, and even roast chicken.

Imported by TWE Imports

Labor Day wine 2018

labor day wine 2018Four value and quality-oriented bottles to enjoy for Labor Day wine 2018

What’s a Labor Day wine? Wine that takes the edge of the heat (it will be mid-90s in Dallas, fairly normal), suitable for porch sitting, picnics, and barbecues. In other words, light wines for warm weather.

These four bottles are fine start as part of Labor Day wine 2018:

La Fiera Pinot Grigio 2017 ($10, purchased, 12%): This Italian white wine is almost always worth drinking, a step up from grocery store pinot grigio (a little lemon fruit to go with the tonic water). This vintage is certainly that, and almost Hall of Fame quality. Imported by Winesellers Ltd.

Matua Pinot Noir Rose 2017  ($12, sample, 13%): Big Wine at its best — Fresh and tart berry fruit, plus a crispness I didn’t expect from a company that is one of the largest in the world. If not a little choppy in the back, it’s a candidate for the Hall of Fame. Imported by TWE Imports

Moulin de Canhaut 2014 ($10, purchased, 13%): This French red Bordeaux is everything cheap French wine should be — simple but not stupid, earthy, and just enough tart black fruit. It’s also an example of how screwed up the wine business is, that someone would send me a sample of a wine that may not be available in the U.S.

Naveran Brut Rosado 2016 ($15, sample, 12%): This Spanish bubbly is one of the world’s great sparkling wines, a cava that compares favorablly to wines costing two and three times as much. Clean and bright, with more citrus than berry flavors.  Highly recommended.

For more about Labor Day wine:
Labor Day wine 2017
Labor Day wine 2016
Labor Day wine 2015

Wine of the week: Gordo 2014

gordoGordo, a Spanish red blend, is complicated, sophisticated, and more than enjoyable

I reviewed the 2012 version of Gordo, a Spanish red, 18 months ago, and marveled at how well made it was. The 2014 version of the Gordo may be more enjoyable.

The Gordo ($13, sample, 14%) doesn’t seem to be the kind of wine I’d be this enthusiastic about. It’s made with about one-third cabernet sauvignon, and regular visitors here know how I feel about Spanish cabernet. But this vintage, like the last, uses the grape to its best advantage, blending it with the native Spanish monastrell (mourvedre in France) to produce a wine where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Look for an earthy yet fresh wine, with almost herbal aromas and dark berry fruit that isn’t all that fruity. And, even though there’s so much cabernet in the wine, the acidity and tannins are muted, providing structure but not really being noticeable. In all, this is a difficult wine to describe because so many contradictory things seem to be going on – which, I suppose, is one reason why it’s so enjoyable.

Highly recommended, though pricing may be an issue – this wine is as little as $12 in some parts of the country and as much as $16 in others. This is a food wine, and about as versatile as red wine gets. Pair it with almost anything you can imagine, save fish or chicken in cream sauce. Having said that, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it shine with turkey pot pie.

Imported by Ole Imports

 

Wine of the week: Domaine Dupeuble Beaujolais 2016

Domaine DupeubleThe Domaine Dupeuble Beaujolais reminds us wine doesn’t have to be pumped full of sugar or sieved through a focus group

A long time ago, in what seems like a galaxy far, far away, we drank Beaujolais. The French red was cheap, tasted like wine, and was usually well made at time when it was difficult to find well-made cheap wine. Today, Beaujolais is mostly forgotten, shunted aside in favor of cute labels, bundles of sugar, and focus groups. But after drinking the Domaine Dupeuble, I want my Beaujolais back.

The Domaine Dupeuble ($15, purchased, 13.5%) is everything a weeknight wine should be – clean, fresh, enjoyable, and food friendly. Look for soft berry fruit with a hint of spice and incredibly subtle tannins. But, somehow, it also has an earthiness and heft that requires food.

Yes, it’s a simple wine, but Beaujolais is supposed to be simple. Otherwise, it would be Grand Cru red Burgundy, made with pinot noir and not gamay, and cost hundreds of dollars. Or, to quote the wine’s importer, the legendary Kermit Lynch: “Multi-layered layers of sublime simplicity. …”

And yes, I would prefer to spend less than $15 for a weeknight wine. But given the junk that is out there these days – soon to be the subject of a long and detailed rant – spending $15 every once in a while keeps me from throwing my keyboard at the office window and screaming like Charlton Heston at the end of “Planet of the Apes.”

Highly recommended. Chill this a little as summer ends, and drink it on the porch by itself or with almost anything you can think of for dinner. Sip slowly, close your eyes, and enjoy.

Imported by Kermit Lynch

Wine of the week: Banfi Centine Toscana 2017

centine toscanoBanfi’s Centine Toscana remains a Hall of Fame quality $10 red wine

The Centine Toscana ($10, purchased, 13.5%) is Big Wine done right – a varietally correct Italian red made with sangiovese made by Banfi, a $70 million company that sells wine in 85 countries. So it should be no surprise that it’s a $10 Hall of Fame quality wine (as is the white version).

The 2017 Centine Toscana is even a little more Italian, so less ripe fruit than the previous vintage and more earthiness. As always, it’s terroir driven, with slightly tart cherry fruit, a pleasant, chalky finish, and appropriately soft tannins. In other words, it tastes like sangiovese from the Tuscan region of Italy, and not a winemaking-driven product from a marketing company focus group trying to figure out how to make a sort of sweet and very smooth Italian wine.

Pair this with summer barbecue – sausages, of course, but also smoked chicken and burgers. And maybe even pizza on the grill for the adventurous. And if the weather allows it, this is a delicious wine with any red sauce.

Wine and food pairings 3: Bratwurst and sauerkraut

Wisconsin-style bratwurstThe Wine Curmudgeon pairs wine with some of his favorite recipes in this new, occasional feature. This edition: three wines with Wisconsin-style bratwurst and sauerkraut

There are bratwurst, and then there are local, butcher-shop brats prepared in the Wisconsin bratwurst style. That means brats poached in beer with onions, peppers, garlic, and spices. Yes, you can use grocery store brats, but it’s that much better with the local product. Can I recommend Lake Geneva Country Meats, a long-time pal of the blog?

Since this is a wine blog, I poach the bratwurst in wine instead of beer. Use one-half bottle of a fruity, dry white wine; almost anything but an oak-infused chardonnay will work. The other key? Add a well-drained can of sauerkraut to the poaching liquid after you take the bratwursts out and simmer. I use 69-cent grocery store kraut, which works as well as the more expensive, plastic-bag version. The sauerkraut picks up the flavors from the poaching liquid, and becomes something other than just sauerkraut. Plus, you don’t waste all the flavor in the bratwurst-infused poaching liquid.

A tip o’ the WC’s fedora to Nick Vorpagel at Lake Geneva, the third generation of the family business and a fine wine guy, too. Who else would hold a cava and Wisconsin-style bratwurst tasting? Hence, cava works with this dish, so enjoy the blog’s legendary $7 Cristalino. Click here to download or print a PDF of the recipe.

But consider these wines, too:

Falesco Vitiano Bianco 2017 ($12, purchased, 12%): This Italian white is one of the blog’s all-time favorites, and pairs with sausage as if it was made for it. Imported by The Winebow Group.

Foncalieu Le Versant Rose 2017 ($10, purchased, 12.5%): One more $10 French pink that does everything rose is supposed to do. Plus, it doesn’t cost as much as  bottle of white Burgundy. The Foncalieu is crisp, has a hint of red fruit, and ends with a pleasing, almost stony finish. Imported by United Wine & Spirits

Castello di Gabbiano Chianti 2015 ($8, purchased, 13%): This Italian red is usually one of the best of the cheap Chiantis, though I noticed some bottle variation this vintage. Otherwise, competent as always — lots of tart cherry, earthiness, and soft tannins. Imported by TWE Imports

More about wine and food pairings:
Wine and food pairings 2: Roast chicken salad with Chinese noodles
Wine and food pairings 1: Chicken, okra and sausage gumbo
One chicken, five dinners, five wines