Tag Archives: sparkling wine

Comte de Galeran

Wine of the week: Comte de Galeran Blanquette de Limoux Brut NV

Comte de GaleranCelebrate the Fourth of July and our French allies with the Comte de Galeran sparkling wine

How to explain all the joys of sparkling wine, from cava and Prosecco to Champagne to everything else? In this case, the everything else includes the Comte de Galeran, an intriguing bubbly from the French region of Limoux.

The Comte de Galeran ($15, sample, 12.5%) is made using the ancient methode ancestrale, which locals claim predates Champagne’s methode champenois. The differences are subtle; more important is the mauzac grape used in Limoux. It offers some of chardonnay’s green apple fruit, but it’s not as crisp and can be almost honeyed.

That’s why the Comte de Galeran seems to taste like chenin blanc or chardonnay before the mauzac makes itself known. It’s just not the hint of sweetness, but a little spiciness, and which adds complexity missing from most bubbly at this price. There are also lots and lots of tight and refreshing bubbles.

I drank this with nachos with jalapenos, and it was a spot on pairing. Highly recommended, and just the kind of wine to pop for the Fourth of July. After all, without the French, we might well be spelling favorite as favourite.

Imported by Wines with Conviction

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

Barefoot wine review 2017

Barefoot wine review 2018: Rich Red Blend, Barefoot Bubbly

Barefoot wine review 2018Barefoot wine review 2018: Rich Red Blend shows Big Wine at its best, while Barefoot Bubbly does just the opposite

Nothing changed with the Barefoot wine review 2018 from the 2017 version. The brand remains maddeningly inconsistent — no guarantee that its products will taste the same from year to year. This is a huge problem, since Barefoot is non-vintage wine and there aren’t supposed to be vintage differences. But E&J Gallo makes so much of it (almost 20 million cases, more than the production of almost every winery in the U.S.) that quality control, apparently, is not what it should be.

The good news first: The Rich Red Blend ($5, purchased, 13%) is a quality sweet red wine that tastes exactly like the back label says it does. In fact, there’s a chart on the back label, modeled after the International Riesling Foundation effort, saying just how sweet the wine is. It’s a welcome development given how many sweet red wines are on the market that pretend not to be sweet.

The Rich Red blend is not as sweet as the Cupcake Red Velvet — closer to the Bogle Essential Red. Look for the cherry, chocolate, and vanilla flavors that are the hallmark of these wines, but also notice the tannins. Yes, tannins in a sweet wine, in an attempt at balance. And it mostly works. And yes, there is a tremendous amount of winemaking going on to get that not especially wine-like combination of flavors. But no one pretends Barefoot makes terroir-driven wines.

The less said about the Barefoot Bubbly Brut Cuvee ($8, purchased, 10.5%), the better. When it’s right, it’s an enjoyable bottle of cheap sparking wine that’s easy to recommend. When it’s wrong, as it was this time, about the only thing you can do is pour it down the drain. My experience: It’s  50-50 whether the wine will be drinkable. This time, the Barefoot Bubbly was flat, and barely popped when I took the cork off. Was this a winemaking problem? Was this a supply chain problem —  stored in a hot distributor warehouse after sitting in a hot truck after sitting in a hot supplier warehouse? Either way, it was a waste of $8 that I could have spent on a Spanish cava.

More about Barefoot wine:
Barefoot wine review 2017
Barefoot wine review 2016
Barefoot wine review 2015

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

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 of the week: De Chanceny Cremant de Loire Brut NV

De Chanceny CremantThe De Chanceny Cremant offers Mother ‘s Day quality at a more than fair price

Sparkling wine value has been pounded by premiumization, as more bubbly costs more money even though it’s not necessarily worth it. This has been a particular problem with French sparkling that isn’t Champagne. These wines, from Burgundy and the Loire in particular, are called cremant to distinguish them from Champagne, and they’re made with local grapes. But they’re made using the same methode champenoise technique and be quite well done.

These cremants used to cost as little as $15 and offer $20 or $25 worth of value. Today, many of them cost $25 but taste like they did when they were $10 less.

The De Chanceny Crémant ($15, purchased, 12.5%) is an exception. It’s professionally made sparkling wine, with chenin blanc lemon fruit and hint of softness that is common in cremant from the Loire. But there is also a bit of chardonnay and cabernet franc to offer structure and a little depth so it’s more than soft and sweetish. Hence, a dry wine with tight, poppy bubbles and just enough acidity to make it sparkle in the mouth.

This is Mother’s Day brunch wine at a more than fair price. Serve it chilled, and enjoy with scrambled eggs, quiche, or anything Mom likes.

Imported by Signature Imports

Mini-reviews 106: Day Owl rose, Basque wine, Bousquet, and Innocent Bystander

day owlReviews 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.

Day Owl Rose 2017 ($13, sample, 12%): Intriguing California pink made with the barbera grape, not common in California or in rose. It’s still a bit young and a little heavier than I like (thanks to the barbera), but it’s a solid effort. Look for very aromatic cherry fruit and a sort of stony finish.

Etxeberria Bengoetxe 2015 ($20, purchased, 12%): This Spanish white from the Getariako Txakolina appellation in the Basque region is about as geeky as wine gets. The grape, hondarribi zuri, is past obscure, while the wine will sometimes have a little natural carbonation. Or not, as the case may be. It’s lemony and soft, but not sweet, and almost savory. Highly recommended, especially for summer.

Domaine Bousquet Sparkling Brut Rose NV ($13, sample, 12%): Fruity Argentine bubbly (berries?) that isn’t quite Prosecco, but soft and missing a little oomph. Not badly done, but $13 can buy more interesting sparkling.

Innocent Bystander Sauvignon Blanc 2016 ($15, sample, 13%): One note New Zealand white, and that note is red grapefruit from beginning to end. This is professionally made wine, which makes me wonder – and at this price – why they didn’t try to add some complexity.