Tag Archives: red wine

Mother's Day wine

Mother’s Day wine 2018

Mother's Day wine 2018Four suggestions — red, white, rose, and sparkling — for Mother’s Day wine 2018

This Mother’s Day wine 2018 post is the 12th time we’ve done it on the blog, and one thing has remained consistent every year. Buy — or serve — Mom a wine 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 please your mother. What’s the point otherwise?

These Mother’s Day wine 2018 suggestions should get you started:

Arrumaco Verdejo 2016 ($8, purchased, 12%): A Spanish white that is a little richer than expected (more stone fruit than citrus), and as well made as all Arrumaco wines are. Imported by Hand Picked Selections

Scharffenberger Cellars Excellence Brut Rose NV ($24, purchased, 12%): This California sparking wine is impressive in many ways — the very aromatic raspberry fruit; the hint of spice that is a surprising and welcome note; and just the right amount of yeastiness, which lets the fruit show. Highly recommended.

Justin Rose 2017 ($18, sample, 13%): A California pink that is one of the shockers of rose season — a pricer wine from a winery best known for big red wine that is intriguing, almost subtle and delightful. Not nearly as fruity as I expected (barely ripe raspberry), with a little minerality and floral aroma. Highly recommended.

Domaine de Courbissac Les Traverses 2015 ($15, sample, 13%): This French red blend is delicious, and it’s even more delicious if you can find it for $12 (and it’s only about $9 in France). Mom wouldn’t want you to overpay. Look for some earth, a little rusticity, and black fruit. Imported by European Cellars

More about Mother’s Day wine:
Mother’s Day wine 2017
Mother’s Day wine 2016
Mother’s Day wine 2015
Two Murrieta’s Well wines

Wine review: Two Murrieta’s Well wines

Murrieta’s Well winess

Two Murrieta’s Well wines – The Spur and the Whip – are a reminder that top-notch California wine doesn’t have to be expensive and boring

The Wine Curmudgeon has rarely been disappointed by Murrieta’s Well wine for more than 20 years. In the old days, when $20 was a lot of money and not something to spend because it was trendy, I would happily pay it for Murrieta’s Well.

How impressive is the the current incarnation, powered by new winemaker Robbie Meyer and a renewed commitment from the label’s owner, Wente Vineyards? It may be the best yet – and costs about the same, too.

The Spur 2015 ($20, sample, 14.5%) is a red blend that’s almost one-half cabernet sauvignon, but not dominated by it. Most importantly, despite the higher alcohol, the wine isn’t hot but balanced between dark, ripe black fruit, just enough sweet oak, supple tannins, and a wonderfully fragrant baking spice aroma.

The Whip 2016 ($18, sample, 13.5%) is a white blend with orange muscat, a grape that is difficult to work with and tends to overpower everything else. Here, though, it lends the tiniest hint of an orange aroma, which plays off the citrus of the sauvignon blanc, green apple of the chardonnay, and stone fruit of the viognier. And, somehow, the wine is floral, crisp and fresh.

How Meyer got these wines to taste like this – elegant and enjoyable – speaks to his talent and commitment to the cause. Because he is a believer; we tasted these at a media lunch, and Meyer and I probably spent too much time lamenting the sad state of $25 wine – soft, sappy, almost sweet, and tasting exactly the same.

Both wines are highly recommended, and offer value as well as quality. Serve these for a Mother’s Day brunch or dinner – the white would pair with eggs Benedict or a rich and cheesy quiche, while the red is ideal for roast beef and leg of lamb.

Wine of the week: Arrumaco Tempranillo 2015

Arrumaco TempranilloThe Spanish Arrumaco Tempranillo is cheap, delicious, and the perfect house red wine

The Wine Curmudgeon has been looking for a cheap, reliable, and well-made everyday red wine since giving up on the the Vino Fuerte and the Rene Barbier (a blend change softened and sweetened it). The Spanish Arrumaco Tempranillo may well be their successor.

No, the Arrumaco Tempranillo ($8, purchased, 13%) does not cost $5. Other than that, it’s everything the others used to be and more – an exceptional wine, stunningly well done for what it costs. It’s much more complex and interesting than an $8 wine should be, and reminds us how much difference terroir and varietal character makes.

Look for tempranillo’s cherry fruit, though a bit softer and not as tart. That’s balanced, however, by an almost licorice flavor and easy, just right tannins. The result is a lighter red wine, perfect for summer, and that it can have this much going on for this price is amazing.

Drink this on its own (maybe even a little chilled), or with burgers, pizza, or roast and grilled chicken. Highly recommended, and almost certain to enter the $10 Hall of Fame in 2019. Also worth noting: The rose and white Arrumacos are equally as delicious.

Imported by Handpicked Selections

Mini-reviews 108: Walmart wine, Lake Sonoma, Exem, Concha y Toro

walmart wineReviews 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. This month, four reds, including a Walmart wine.

Lunar Harvest Merlot 2015 ($9, sample, 13.5%): Walmart private label Washington state red wine that can be summed up in one sentence: Is it any wonder I worry about the future of the wine business?

Lake Sonoma Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley 2015 ($26, sample, 14.4%): Doesn’t taste especially Sonoma or Alexander Valley — just rich, overripe black fruit, lots of chocolate oak, and hardly any tannins or acidity. Which is fine, I suppose, if that’s what you’re looking for at $26.

Exem Rouge 2015 ($13, sample, 13%): Pleasant French merlot blend from Bordeaux with nothing really wrong with it, save that it’s about $8 worth of wine. Imported by Winesellers Ltd.

Concha y Toro Gran Reserva Serie Riberas Malbec 2016 ($15, sample, 13.5%): More Old World in style than one expects from Chilean wine, and especially from malbec. This red has less ripe fruit and more backbone and acidity than similar South American wines. Find this for less than $15, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Imported by Excelsior Wine.

Expensive wine 107: Fort Ross FRV Pinot Noir 2013

Fort Ross FRV pinot noirThe Fort Ross FRV pinot noir is a rarity from California – elegant, graceful, and varietally correct

California pinot noir is a conundrum, which is why we have movies about it, best-selling sweet versions of it, and critically acclaimed cabernet sauvignon versions of it. Mostly, the state isn’t cool and rainy enough to make a classical, varietally correct version of it. Which is where the Fort Ross FRV pinot noir comes in.

The Fort Ross FRV pinot noir ($52, sample, 13.8%) is elegant and, in its elegance, spectacular. It’s not what one expects from California pinot nor, given the excesses of many of the best selling labels. It somehow combines New World freshness with a little Burgundian complexity, so that each part of the wine complements the other and the whole is greater than the parts. It’s balance where balance is too often lacking.

Look for forest floor aromas (not too funky), plus dark red fruit and baking spice flavors, and soft, refined tannins. The tannins, as well as the exquisitely judicious use of oak, might be the most impressive achievements. This is a California pinot noir made to express pinot noir from Fort Ross’ Sonoma terroir instead of making it to get 94 points, the soil and the climate be damned.

Highly recommended. Ready to drink now, and probably won’t age for more than several years. Enjoy it with anything pinot noir–related, from roast lamb to salmon. And, given its grace, by itself.

Wine review: Vina Fuerte 2015

vina fuerteThe new vintage of the Vina Fuerte, once a dependable $5 Spanish red, isn’t very Spanish or  worth $5

The Aldi discount grocer is famous for its cheap, quality wine in Europe. Unfortunately, we’re not getting any of that in the U.S. – as the new vintage of the Vina Fuerte sadly demonstrates.

The Vina Fuerte ($5, purchased, 13%) is a Spanish tempranillo, and the 2014 was more than serviceable. It tasted like Spanish tempranillo – tart cherry fruit with some character and interest in the back. It wasn’t $10 Hall of Fame quality, but it was the kind of red wine to buy for dinner without worrying about whether it would be any good. In fact, I usually bought two.

The 2015, though, is about as Spanish as a pair of sweat socks. The tart cherry fruit has been bulldozed in favor of almost overripe California-style red fruit and the character and the interest in the back have been replaced by heaping amounts of fake oak.

This is disappointing, but not surprising. Aldi’s U.S. wine decisions have focused on the lowest common denominator over the past couple of years: Plonk like Winking Owl, copying the overpriced and very ordinary wines sold in traditional grocery stores, and bringing in one-offs that are priced for their labels and not what’s inside the bottle.

The days when Aldi sold Vina Decana, a Hall of Fame Spanish tempranillo, and the equally worthy Benedetto Chianti are long gone. Today, we’re stuck with focus group wines like the new Fuerte; apparently, we’ll never get to enjoy real wine like this.

It’s baffling. Aldi understands the U.S. grocery store market so well that even Walmart is running scared, but it treats wine with the same arrogance and disdain for the consumer that everyone else does. Is it any wonder I worry about the future of the wine business?

Wine of the week: Le Charmel Pinot Noir 2016

Le Charmel pinot noirThe Le Charmel pinot noir is a pleasant, enjoyable, and lighter red wine that offers more quality than it costs

Mel Masters has been making wine in France almost as long as I’ve been writing about it, which should give you an idea of how serious this expatriate Englishman is about his craft. Best yet, Masters has focused on affordable quality wine like the Le Charmel pinot noir.

The Le Charmel pinot noir ($12, sample, 13%) comes from the Languedoc in southern France, so don’t expect any high-end Burgundian sophistication. Even though the aroma is a touch earthy, there is little classical pinot noir varietal character. Having said that, it is more than $12 worth of wine – a pleasant, enjoyable, and lighter red, with a sort of dried cherry fruit flavor that doesn’t overwhelm the soft tannins or the hint of acidity that keeps the wine from tasting like it was made in bulk in California.

In fact, the Le Charmel is the kind of inexpensive pinot noir that we rarely see made in this country anymore; and no, the Mark West is not what it once was. Drink this on its own if you want a glass of wine after work, and you can even chill it a little. It would also pair with weeknight meatloaf, as well as weekend hamburgers.

Imported by Winesellers, Ltd.