Tag Archives: Spanish wine

Wine of the week: Volteo Viura + Viogner + Sauvignon Blanc 2008

This wine should really be called Volteo Blanco, since it's a Spanish white wine blend. I'm assuming that the three grapes used to make it are in the name because most Europeans think that Americans only buy wine that has the varietals in the name. That most of us have no idea what viura or viogner are probably never occurred to the folks behind Volteo ($10, purchased).

Having said that, it's quite well made and (with its tempranillo cousin) was in consideration for the 2011 $10 Hall of Fame. That it didn't get in speaks more to its newness; this is one of the first vintages, and I'd like to see what happens next before I elevate it to the Hall.

Viura is a traditional Spanish grape used to make just this kind of wine. Look for a crisp, fresh, clean effort with a bit of lemon fruit and Spanish minerality and acid. Don't expect a New World citrusy wine — the Volteo is much more balanced. Serve this with salads, almost any kind of grilled fish, and even boiled shrimp. And, like the tempranillo, it has the "Smart Label:" A blue frame appears around the label illustration when the wine is at the correct serving temperature. Which actually did work.

Mini-reviews 20: Stone Hill, Souverain, Spy Valley, Vertus

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 (Thursday this month because of the holiday).

? Stone Hill Vignoles 2009 ($16, sample): Lots of pineapple, but not all that sweet with a long peach pit finish. An excellent example of what can be done with this hybrid grape from one of Missouri’s top producers.

? Souverain Sauvignon Blanc 2009 ($14, sample): This wine is one of the reasons why I love wine, and it has nothing to do with whether I “liked” it or not. The Souverain is done in a style I don’t usually care for, oaked sauvignon blanc, but it’s so well done that I can appreciate what it offers and recommend it.

? Spy Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2009 ($18, purchased): More wonderfullness from what may be the best sauvignon blanc in the world. Look for even less citrus and more tropical fruit than usual, which is saying something since Spy Valley is among the least citrus-y of the New Zealand sauvignon blancs.

? Bodegas Iranzo Vertus 2003 ($15, sample): Tempranillo from a less well-known part of Spain, and well worth the effort. More fresh cherry fruit than a Rijoa, lots of bright Spanish acidity and even a bit of herb tucked in. Highly recommended.

Wine of the week: Cristalino NV

Regular visitors here will notice that there is no picture of Cristalino. Welcome to the wonderful world of American jurisprudence and the foolishness of the wine business.

In August, a federal district court in Minneapolis ruled that Cristalino, which is a much beloved $7 Spanish sparkling wine, infringed on the trademark of Cristal, a Champagne that costs about $200 a bottle and is favored by people who drive Escalades. Or, as the attorneys for Champagne Louis Roederer, the French luxury brand that owns Cristal, wrote: “The Defendants ? use of CRISTALINO on their sparkling wine product is an illegitimate brand extension that trades on the reputation and image of the famous mark, CRISTAL. Consumers likely believe that CRISTALINO sparkling wine is associated with, sponsored by, or is in some way connected with the maker of the prestige champagne CRISTAL.”

Sigh. And people wonder why the Wine Curmudgeon is so cranky. The Champagne business has been in tatters since the recession started, and Roederer decided to spend money on this lawsuit? The judge, in deciding the case, wrote that there was evidence that consumers could be confused, and if my reading of the law is correct, that was enough to decide in Roederer’s favor. It didn’t matter whether Cristal lost sales to Cristalino (which was unclear). Cristalino had to redesign and re-label its bottle, which is now white and includes a disclaimer that says it isn’t affiliated with Roederer or Cristal.

So this is what I’m going to do: Never drink a bottle of Cristal (which isn’t a problem, since I can’t afford it). Never, after this moment, write about or review a Roederer product, which include Roederer and Scharffenberger sparkling wines in California, a half a dozen or so French still wine brands, and the Portuguese Ramos Pinto label. And, of course, welcome Cristalino (purchased) into the 2011 $10 Hall of Fame, because it offers everything Cristal doesn’t — quality and value. And, yes, it would quite nice at Thanksgiving.