Tag Archives: South African wine

Wine of the week: Ken Forrester Petit Rose 2018

Ken Forrester petit roseThe Ken Forrester petit rose may be the best rose no one has ever heard of

There’s no easy way to say this, so here it is: The Ken Forrester petit rose is a brilliant wine, consistent from year to year, and a tremendous value. But good luck trying to buy it, given the failures of the three-tier system.

In fact, the Ken Forrester petit rose ($10, purchased, 12.5%) is one of several top-notch wines from this outstanding South African producer that are difficult to buy in the U.S. Why? Because it’s South African wine, hardly the darling of the distributors or retailers; because Forrester isn’t a big winery; and because the winery has had importer problems for at least as long as I have been writing about it.

In a perfect world, where we could buy wine the way we buy pants and computers, none of that would matter. But since wine has the three-tier system, we have to make do. Which is a shame, because the rose is everything a great pink wine should be.

Look for strawberry aromas, but not the syrupy, overdone kind that poorly made roses sometimes show. There is fresh, just ripe raspberry fruit flavor, and the finish is precise and almost stony. All in all, the kind of wine to buy again and again. Highly recommended, and a candidate for the 2019 $10 Hall of Fame.

Wine of the week: Mulderbosch Rose 2017

mulderbosch roseThe Mulderbosch rose demonstrates, once again, that you don’t have to spend more than $10 to get terrific pink wine

Is the Mulderbosch rose pink wine for The Holiday that Must Not be Named? Check.

Does it have a screwcap? Check.

Consistent quality? Check.

Tremendous value? Check.

Tasty? Check.

In other words, South Africa’s Mulderbosch rose ($10, purchased, 12.5%) is everything a great cheap wine should be. And, believe it or not, widely available – grocery stores, even.

The 2017 vintage (which we’re getting now because the southern hemisphere is six months ahead of the northern in the harvest cycle) is much fresher and more flavorful than the 2016 that I tasted at the end of last year. That’s a reminder that most roses don’t age well, and you should always buy the most recent vintage and never one that is more than 18 months old.

The Mulderbosch is an odd rose since it’s made with cabernet sauvignon, which is a heavier-tasting grape than rose needs. But that’s rarely a problem with the wine; this vintage shows a little cabernet zippiness and some blackberry fruit, as well as a classic rose clean finish. Highly recommended, and a candidate for the 2019 $10 Hall of Fame.

Imported by Terroir Selections

Thanksgiving wine 2017

thanksgiving wine 2017Four Thanksgiving wine 2017 suggestions

Thanksgiving is the blog’s favorite holiday, and might be the greatest wine holiday in the world. That’s because families and friends get to share lots of  wine, and because Thanksgiving isn’t about money, showing off, or big-screen plasma TVs. Instead, it’s about being thankful that we can be together to enjoy the holiday. The blog’s guidelines for holiday wine buying are here.

This year’s Thanksgiving wine 2017 suggestions are just a start:

Ken Forrester Petit Rose 2017 ($10, purchased, 13%): Always well made pink wine from a South African producer with impeccable taste (the chenin blanc is worth buying, too). It’s a blend of grenache and a little viognier, so there is less fruit (unripe strawberry?) than expected and more stoniness and minerality. Highly recommended. Imported by USA Wine Imports.

Wakefield Promised Land Riesling 2016 ($12, sample, 12,5%): This is just what a cheap Aussie riesling should be — and what we don’t get enough of in this country, where riesling is about sweetness for sweetness’ sake. Look for lemon-lime fruit, a little petrol aroma and a surprisingly full mouth feel, some sparkle, and hint of sweetness. Highly recommended. Imported by Seaview Imports.

Masi Campofiorin Rosso del Veronese 2014 ($17, sample, 13%): If all $17 wine had this much character and interest, then I wouldn’t be complaining about $17 wine. Rich, concentrated red corvina fruit, plus Italian earthiness and not too much acidity. Balanced and very nicely done; an ideal turkey wine. Imported by Kobrand.

Naveran Cava Brut 2015 ($15, purchased, 12%): Maybe one of the best cavas in the world, and certainly one of the best sparkling wines given the price. A knockout, even with the usual high quality of cava — lots of crispness, plenty of tight bubbles, and some sweetish apple fruit. In this, it is a fuller, richer wine than the $10 bottles that I usually drink. Imported by Ole Imports.

More about Thanksgiving wine:
Thanksgiving wine 2016
Thanksgiving wine 2015
Thanksgiving wine 2014

Mini-reviews 99: Stemmari, Mulderbosch, Capezzana, Main & Vine

stemmariReviews 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.

Stemmari Nero d’Avola 2014 ($8, purchased, 13%): This Italian red is soft, almost too ripe, and barely recognizable as wine made with the classic Sicilian nero d’avola grape. Not offensive, but this used to be a quality cheap wine. Now it’s just something to drink.

Mulderbosch Sauvignon Blanc 2016 ($16, sample, 13.5%): The problem with a $16 South African sauvignon blanc like this is that it has to offer more than almost any other sauvignon blanc at the same price. Which, frankly, is difficult to do, as the Mulderbosch shows. It’s well made enough, with lime fruit, but also thin in the middle and back and just not up to something like New Zealand’s Spy Valley or Dry Creek from California.

Capezzana Monna Nera 2014 ($9, purchased, 13.5%): This Italian red blend is too soft for my taste, without enough Italian-ness or tart cherry fruit. In this, it’s not poorly made, but too international in style (the blend contains almost 50 percent French grapes), and especially with the almost ashy finish.

Main & Vine Dry Rose NV ($6, sample, 11.1%): This is a fascinating pink effort (a five-grape California blend) from Big Wine, in this case Treasury Wine Estates. It’s not dry, but about as sweet as most sweet reds. Having said that, it’s rose-like and worth the $6 if you want something with a little sugar, but not nearly as sweet as white zinfandel.

Mother's Day wine

Mother’s Day wine 2017

mother's day wine 2017Four suggestions for Mother’s Day wine 2017

The same lesson applies for this, the Wine Curmudgeon’s 11th annual Mother’s Day wine post, that applied to the previous 10. Buy Mom something 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 make her happy, not to impress her with your wine knowledge. She’s your Mom – she’s impressed already.

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

Pewsey Vale Dry Riesling 2015 ($16, sample, 12.5%): Australian rieslings are some of the least known quality wines in the world, because who associates riesling and Australia? This white shows why the wines offer so much quality at more than a fair price: dry, crisp, lemon and lime fruit, and a certain zestiness. Highly recommended.

Cristalino Rose Brut NV ($9, sample, 12%): Every time I taste this Spanish cava, or sparkling wine, I am amazed at how well made it is, and especially how well made it is for the price. No wonder it has been in the $10 Hall of Fame since the beginning. Tight bubbles, red and citrus fruit, and perfect for Mother’s Day brunch.

Mulderbosch Cabernet Sauvignon Rose 2016 ($10, sample, 12.5%): This South African pink is tighter and more closed this year, and the weight of the cabernet is more obvious. Having said that, it’s still a fine, fresh rose, with dark red fruit and a little spice and what could even be tannins in the back that add a little interest.

Bravium Pinot Noir 2015 ($30, sample, 12.5%): This California red is nicely done, a varietally correct pinot from the well-regarded Anderson Valley and more or less worth what it costs. Some earth, red fruit and even a hint of orange peel.

More about Mother’s Day wine:
Mother’s Day wine 2016
Mother’s Day wine 2015
Mother’s day wine 2014
Wine of the week: Anne Amie Cuvee Muller Thurgau 2015

Cheap wine checklist: $82.67 for a case of wine

cheap winePutting my money where my crankiness is: A case of quality cheap wine for about $80.

This is the second of two parts about buying cheap wine in the age of premiumization. Part I on Sept. 22: The cheap wine checklist.

Why do so many people pay so much money for so much lousy wine? Because, as I discussed with Laura Lawson on her Wine Crush radio show last week, we’re afraid to try something different. If it’s not what we always drink, and that’s almost always overpriced cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, and merlot, then we’re stuck paying too much.

Hence the cheap wine checklist, and its five guidelines to help us find quality cheap wine. How well does it work? Quite well; I used the checklist to buy a case of wine at the main Dallas Spec’s for $82.67 last week. The wines were from Spain, France, and South Africa, there was nary a cabernet or chardonnay among them, and four were roses.

I’ve bought some of the wines before, but almost half were first-time purchases:

• The repeats – four bottles of the Rene Barbier white Spanish blend, the Chateau Bonnet white Bordeaux, the Bieler et Fils rose from Provence, and the South African Goats do Roam rose. Total: $46.29

• I splurged on the Château La Tour Beraud Blanc, made with grenache blanc from the southern Rhone in France. Total: $12.62

• The Brumont tannat-merlot blend from Gascony in France, made by the same producer who does a nice Gascon white blend. Total: $10.52.

• Two Spanish wines from Frederico Paternina, a tempranillo and rose, because almost all Spanish wine is worth buying. Total: $16.82.

• The 2015 vintage of the Marques Caceras rose, which I hadn’t tasted in a couple of years. Total: $8.09.

Grand total, minus $11.67 in cash and case discounts and not including sales tax, was $82.67.

So no bellyaching when you say you can’t find anything cheap and good to buy. Yes, I benefited because Spec’s is the biggest retailer in Texas and because it’s locked in a death struggle with Total Wine for control of the Dallas market – both of which account for some ferocious price cutting.

But the point is not where you buy your wine, but that you understand how wine pricing works and that trying wine that you’re not supposed to like will save money. It’s one of the first lessons I learned in wine: if I don’t like chocolate ice cream, why would I buy it because someone told me I was supposed to? So why do we do that with wine?

Wine of the week: Ken Forrester Petit Chenin Blanc 2014

forrester petit chenin blancIn a perfect wine world, the Ken Forrester Petit Chenin Blanc would be on store shelves everywhere, and I wouldn’t have to write this kind of post. Until then, know that this is the kind of wine that I wish more producers made and that my colleagues in the Winestream Media allowed more people to enjoy.

Because the Ken Forrester Petit Chenin Blanc ($11, purchased, 13.5%), from South Africa, is the sort of fresh, crisp, and cheap white wine made with a grape that gets very little respect and that the world needs more of. It’s bright and juicy (peaches?), with a touch of citrus and an almost zesty finish that’s devoid of the bitter, pitty flavors some chenin blanc has. And it’s not sweet, either, with only about as much residual sugar as a typical chardonnay.

Chill this and drink on its own; it’s the kind of wine to keep around the house when you feel like a glass. Or pair it with almost any holiday meal that isn’t red meat, and especially a Christmas turkey or something to make all those leftovers that much more enjoyable.

My tasting notes say “thoroughly delightful,” which goes nicely with the note from the producer (and which are rarely worth quoting): “Should last half an hour with the cap off and reach for the next bottle!”