Tag Archives: rose

Wine of the week: Spy Valley Rose 2017

spy valley roseThe Spy Valley rose shows once again that the New Zealand winery is dedicated to quality and value

The Wine Curmudgeon has long praised New Zealand’s Spy Valley, a producer that combines quality with value. Its wines don’t pant and sniff for scores, and almost all of them are interesting and varietally correct. So imagine my excitement when I found the Spy Valley rose on a Dallas store shelf.

I was not disappointed. The Spy Valley rose ($13, purchased, 13%) was everything I hoped it would be. This is a top-notch rose at a more than fair price. Dare I say it’s my new favorite pink?

In this, it has the body and style that’s missing from many more expensive roses – a complexity and roundness that is a hallmark of Spy Valley wines. But it’s also fresh and crisp, with wonderful point noir berry aroma and flavor (plus a little tropical something or other lurking in the background). This wine shows how rose should be made – not as a way to use up leftover grapes to stuff in a fancy bottle, but to make delicious rose.

Highly recommended, and a candidate for the 2018 Cheap Wine of the Year. Drink this chilled with any sort of Labor Day activity, be it sitting on the porch, burgers at a barbecue, or visiting with friends.

Imported by Broadbent Selections

Winebits 555: Bad rose, buying alcohol, wine additives

bad roseThis week’s wine news: A sommelier says there’s bad rose out there, plus technology could make carding drinkers obsolete and researchers may have found the ultimate wine additive

Score one for quality rose: No, I didn’t write this, which makes it even more refreshing: “… but when I see big-brand pink swill on otherwise nice restaurant menus, I get furious. You might know which brands I am talking about, the ones that sponsor huge parties in the Hamptons. They masquerade as luxury goods, with fun bottle shapes and cutesy names, but are simply bulk wines.” That’s Manhattan sommelier Victoria James, writing in Bon Appetit, and her rant took guts. It’s one thing for me to say that, given it’s the blog’s reason for being. But when you’re in the belly of the beast, as James is, it’s that much more difficult. And all she writes is correct, whether it’s being offered money to add wine to restaurant lists, the tarted up bottles made to look like perfume dispensers, and the other tricks foisted off on those of us who love rose. Welcome to the fight, Victoria.

New way to ID: Technology has made it possible to card booze drinkers without an ID, thanks to biometrics. Your fingerprint can serve as your ID; it can be scanned to prove who you are. The story doesn’t go much farther than that, but the technology may have other uses. In buying wine over the Internet, for example, it would make underage ordering almost impossible. The delivery driver could scan a print, which so far can’t be faked the way a driver’s license can, to see if the person buying the bottle is old enough. And would be another blow against the three-tier system.

Is that wine oily enough for you? Researchers in Spain may have found a plant oil that will make yeast more efficient during fermentation in the winemaking process, reports Scientific American. It’s a fascinating discovery (and the article isn’t too complicated, given its pedigree), but it raises several questions that it doesn’t answer. Are more efficient yeasts better for wine? Will it affect the wine in any other way?

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

Winebits 548: Taco Bell rose, New Orleans, wine production

Taco Bell wine

Let me at that Taco Bell frose.

This week’s wine news: Taco Bell will add a rose-flavored slushy, plus New Orleans goes for a wine competition, and this year’s California grape harvest this year may be a record

Bring on the rose: Taco Bell customers in Chicago and Southern California will be able to buy frosé, a wine-infused slushy drink, reports Nation’s Restaurant News. The two ounces of rose for the 16-ounce drink, made with a “berry-blend ‘Freeze’ base,” comes from Washington state’s Charles & Charles – whose rose is among the best in the world. And no, I can’t wrap my head around that at all. The frose will cost about $8 in California and $6 in Chicago, and will only be sold in the chain’s more upscale Cantina stores. Still, if the frose works, a Taco Bell official says it will be sold in all dozen or so of the Cantinas.

New Orleans wine competition: Only in New Orleans – a wine competition combined with a consumer wine tasting at some of the best restaurants in the world, including Crescent City legends Antoine’s, Arnaud’s, Brennan’s on Royal Street, and Galatoire’s. In this, the competition is trying to add value for the wineries that enter, something that has become an essential for 21st wine judging. The list of judges is also impressive (even if it includes me). The first New Orleans International Wine Competition is set Nov. 6-8.

Record grape crop: Early indications are that the 2018 California grape harvest could be the biggest ever, at 4.5 million tons. That’s about one-half million tons more than normal the past couple of years and a substantial increase, reports an industry trade group. This is good news for consumers worried about wine price increases; given that amount, we’ll have plenty of grapes to hold the price down. The only increases should come on the higher end and for wines invented to sell at $15 and more.

Fourth of July wine 2018

July Foutth wine 2018Fourth of July wine 2018: Four bottles to enjoy to celebrate the holiday

No weekend this year to celebrate the United States’ 242nd birthday. So we’ll make do with Fourth of July wine 2018 for the middle of the week. As always, keep our summer wine and porch wine guidelines in mind: Lighter, fresher wines, even for red, since lots of oak and high alcohol aren’t especially refreshing when it’s 98 degrees outside

Consider these Fourth of July wine 2018 suggestions:

Justin Sauvignon Blanc 2017 ($15, sample, 13.5%): This California white is one of Justin’s best sauvignon blancs in years — very California in style, with the grassy aroma, crispness, and just enough lemon/lime to be noticeable. Highly recommended

Pierre Rougon Rose 2017 ($9, purchased, 13%): This French pink from Provence is solid and dependable — a steal at this price. Look for barely ripe cherry and some earthy minerality. Highly recommended. Imported by Vinovia Wine Group

Chateau Haut Rian 2015 ($13, sample, 13%): This French red blend from Bordeaux (about two-thirds merlot) isn’t overpriced, which makes it worth buying regardless. Throw in full red fruit and soft tannins, and you have an ideal summer red. I just wish it was a little funkier and old-fashioned. Imported by Wines with Conviction

Mumm Napa Cuvee M NV ($20, purchased, 12.5%): Mumm, the French bubbly house, makes this in California; hence the much more reasonable price. Plus, you can buy it in some grocery stores. Look for crisp and green apple and not quite ripe pear, and tight, crisp, bubbles. Very well made, and always enjoyable.

More Fourth of July wine:
Fourth of July wine 2017
Fourth of July wine 2016
Fourth of July wine 2015
Wine of the week: Mont Gravet Carignan 2016

Winebits 546: Crummy wine, rose’s popularity, and three-tier restrictions

This week’s wine news: A top winemaker goes off on poorly made and crummy wine, while rose continues to grow and we learn about even more silly three-tier laws

Poor, poor sauvignon blanc: The Wine Curmudgeon is not the only person lamenting the state of wine quality and the abundance of crummy wine. Says Matt Day of South Africa’s Klein Constantia: ““If we’re not careful sauvignon blanc will go down the same route as chardonnay and no one will want to drink it.” His point? That winemakers and producers are “cheating” – ignoring terroir and varietal character – to make all sauvignon blanc taste the same, no matter where it’s from. The result, he told drinksbusiness.com, is boring wine that doesn’t taste like sauvignon blanc.

Rose is here to stay: No kidding – though I have to admit, I liked the tone of the piece, which positions rose as something wine snobs don’t respect. Or want us to drink. And there’s a great picture of a rose picnic, with everyone dressed in pink. On the other hand, some of the other was hard to swallow, like roses’ pink color has much to do with its popularity. How its popularity is because it’s usually cheap, well-made, and offers value where so much other wine doesn’t these days?

No, no, no: Liza B. Zimmerman, writing for wine-searcher.com, relates some of the especially silly laws tied to the three-tier system in the era of social media – because, of course, we can never get enough of that. How about not being able to list the price of a wine on social media? Or that posts can only made in a “media where at least 71.6 percent of the audience is of drinking age [based on reliable audience data].” Or, my favorite, that wineries can’t list just one retailer that carries their product, but at least two. Says an attorney quoted in the story: “[T]hese laws are not rational in today’s market.” Would that more people felt that way.

Photo by Kaboompics.com from Pexels, using a Creative Commons license

Father’s Day wine 2018

Father's Day wine 2018Father’s Day wine 2018: Four wines that offer quality and value — because that’s what Dad taught you

The Father’s Day wine 2018 news releases have been landing in my mailbox for a month or so, and most of them bore me to tears. I mention this not to bash wine marketing again, but to note that the releases don’t understand what Dad wants. It’s not about spending money; it’s about value and pleasure.

Which is the point of this year’s Father’s Day wine post. Keep the blog’s wine gift-giving guidelines in mind throughout the process: Don’t buy someone wine that you think they should like; buy them what they will like.

This year’s Father’s Day wine suggestions:

d’Arenberg The Footbolt 2014 ($18, sample, 14.6%): Australian shiraz’s fall from grace should not apply to d’Arenberg, an Aussie producer that makes some of the most interesting red wine in the world. d’Arenberg does it by combining terroir, top quality grapes, and — believe it or not  —  high alcohol in a fresh and intriguing fashion. This is shiraz for people who love wine, and not booze. Highly recommended. Imported by Old Bridge Cellars

Peter Zemmer Pinot Grigio 2017 ($15, sample, 13.5%): Prices for this Italian white are all over the place — probably because it’s more than the citrus-flavored tonic water of cheaper pinot grigios. Look for some lemon fruit and minerality, plus something that can only be called character. Imported by HB Wine Merchants

Zolo Signature Rose 2017 ($10, purchased, 12.9%): This Argentine pink reminds me why I love wine — a $10 wine bought with no expectations and that gave me more than a bottle of enjoyment. It’s a syrah blend with lots of just ripe strawberry fruit, but not too heavy, too fruity, or sweet at all. Highly recommended. Imported by Vino del Sol

Gloria Ferrer Brut Rose NV ($25, sample, 12.5%): I drank this at the Friday night reception at this year’s Critic’s Challenge. And then I drank some more. And some more. It’s beautiful, well-made, and delicious — tight bubbles, strawberry aroma, and soft red fruit flavors. Highly recommended.

More Father’s Day wine:

Father’s Day wine 2017
Father’s Day wine 2016
Father’s Day wine 2015
Expensive wine 106: Graham’s 20-year-Tawny Port