The blog has made substantial progress in its five-plus years of existence, helping wine drinkers appreciate cheap wine and local wine in particular, and adding to the limited number of resources written in English for beginning wine drinkers.
Its great failing, though, has been in rose. No matter what I do, I can’t find a way to interest you in dry pink wine. The rose reviews are rarely well read, and at a time when thousands and thousands of people visit the blog, their poor showing seriously hurts my numbers.
Someone more business savvy or better attuned to the ways of the cyber-ether would get the message and cut back ? or even eliminate — the rose reviews. Needless to say, the Wine Curmudgeon is neither of those.
Because roses are worth drinking, even when it ?s not summer. The Charles & Charles ($10, purchased, 13%) is bone dry, food friendly, balanced and fruity ? the sort of wine that would go with any informal dinner, afternoon wine sipping, or friends in the living room. It has lots of strawberry and watermelon, which is balanced with pleasant acidity and a touch of minerality.
This is what U.S. rose should aspire to — enough fruit to please Americans, but not so much as to confuse it with sweet, blush wine.
? Domaine du Ad le Rouz Quincy 2010 ($20, purchased): French white from the Loire is imported by the always reliable Charles Neal. Lots and lots of lemon; the wine may require a little more time in bottle to even out. Needs food, and probably seafood (boiled or grilled shrimp, steamed mussels).
? Steelhead Red 2010 ($15, sample): California blend is heavy on the cabernet sauvignon, so it needs beefy food. But it has lots of character and oomph, as well as blackberry fruit and dusty tannins.
Reviews of wines that don ?t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another. Look for it on the final Friday of each month. Today, wines to enjoy over the Labor Day weekend:
? Schug Chardonnay Sonoma Coast 2010 ($25, sample): Elegant chardonnay that is a huge bargain at this price. It retains California freshness and fruit while showing some of the length and breadth of a fine white Burgundy.
? Anne Amie Pinot Noir Cuv e A 2010 ($25, sample): Classic Oregon pinot (and always a favorite), with berry fruit and earthiness that balance each other, and a fine value at this price.
? Acrobat Pinot Noir Rose 2011 ($10, purchased): Nothing really wrong with this Oregon rose, but mildly disappointing if only because it ?s not up to the quality of the Acrobat pinot gris. Tastes of red fruit with almost sauvignon blanc-like acidity.
? Colores Del Sol Malbec 2010 ($12, sample): At $8, this is a nicely done grocery store wine, featuring the typical blueberry cola aroma. But, unfortunately, it doesn ?t cost $8.
The wine of the week, which usually posts on Wednesday, runs today because of the July 4 holiday. The blog's schedule will return to normal next week.
The Wine Curmudgeon is criticized regularly because I have standards. Just because a wine is cheap does not mean it doesn't have to be well made and varietally correct. Or, as my pal Tim McNally put it the other day: "There are cheap wines, and they have a place. Then there are wines that are made cheaply, and they don't have a place at all."
The La Valentina ($7, purchased) is firmly and unequivically one of the former. In a perfect world, whenever someone sends me a tart email or leaves a snide comment on the blog about my insistence that a California appellation, cute label and too much fruit does not make a quality wine, I would pour them a glass of this.
This is a surprisingly complex rose made from the montepulciano grape in the Abruzzi region, east of Rome (and not to be confused with the Montepulciano region of Tuscany, home to many high-priced wines). It's not just refreshing, but offers some zip and crispness. Look for strawberry fruit and even a bit of citrus finish.
The Wine Curmudgeon appreciates his readers and visitors more than they will ever know. Without you, I ?d have to get a real job, where I would probably not be allowed to drink wine.
Having said that, I must bring up one of your few failings: You don ?t much like rose. No rose review has ever been a top 10 annual post, and they barely crack the top 50.
I especially pondered that question preparing for this post, the blog ?s fifth annual rose extravaganza. And I can ?t come up with a good reason. Rose is cheap. It ?s better made than ever before. It ?s food friendly. You can put an ice cube in it. What more do you need from a wine?
After the jump, the basics about roses and this year ?s recommendations:
The name of this wine is a very long and very French way of saying that this is exactly the kind of rose that makes the Wine Curmudgeon smile. It ?s cheap and it ?s dry, but more importantly, it ?s full of summer and backyards and porches and barbecues.
The des Oliviers ($10, purchased) is from southern France and is mostly made with cinsault. In this, it ?s firmly in the French style ? some fruit (in this case, cranberry), but not the big dollops that give the impression of sweetness and so confuse so many wine drinkers into thinking pink wine means white zinfandel. This wine is about as far from white zinfandel as possible.
Also impressive: The des Oliviers is a bit floral on the nose, and its clean, crisp finish leaves you ready to take another sip.
Serve this chilled on its own, or with any summer activity. Highly recommended, and a candidate for the 2013 $10 Hall of Fame.