Tag Archives: sparkling wine

Wine of the week: Casteller Brut Rose NV

Wine of the week: Casteller Brut Rose NVThe two most unappreciated wines in the wine world are rose and sparkling wine. Don’t believe me? Let the Wine Curmudgeon quote from sales data: Nielsen doesn’t even track rose, which is apparently lumped in with blush wines, a category that includes white zinfandel. As near as I can tell, maybe two out of every 100 bottles sold in the U.S. between March 2010 and March 2011 were rose. And sparkling? The Wine Institute reports that about 135,000 cases of bubbly were sold in the U.S. in 2008. Which is less than the wine sold by the two or three biggest wineries in Texas in a normal year.

Hence this Mother’s Day wine of the week, which is both rose and sparkling — and cava to boot, which makes it a terrific value. The Casteller ($12, purchased) has a bit of what Champagne geeks call yeastiness (and is a good thing), a burst of strawberry fruit at the front, and a surprisingly long mineral finish, something rarely seen in a a wine that costs this little. And the bubbles? Long, lingering and lovely, which is also a surprise in a wine at this price. The Wine Curmudgeon loves Cristalino, and this wine makes Cristalino seem quite ordinary.

Toast Mom with this wine on Sunday. She’ll appreciate it. It’s also a fine food wine; pair it with any sort of brunch dish, main course salads or grilled chicken. And, if you need a little variety, Casteller makes a regular cava, also about $12, also worth checking out.

Mini-reviews 24: J.J. Vincent, Benessere, Tour Coutelin, Faiveley

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.

? J. J. Vincent Cr mant de Bourgogne Brut NV ($20, sample): Yummy, French-made, Champagne-style sparkling wine with lots of bubbles and sweetish green apple fruit.

? Benessere Sangiovese 2007 ($28, sample): Very nicely made, with proper tannins and acid (though not as much red fruit as I expected), but with the usual sort of quality to price problem that crops up with Napa wines. How many quality Chiantis can one get for less than this?

? Ch teau Tour Coutelin 2007 ($20, purchased): Well-done left-bank Bordeaux with much welcome earthiness, though more red fruit than I expected. Probably 5 or 6 Euros in France, which would make it a fine deal.

? Faiveley Bourgogne Blanc 2008 ($20, sample): Solid, dependable basic chardonnay from Burgundy (green apples and a bit of citrus), but which is clobbered by the weak dollar. Have you noticed a theme in this post?

Wine of the week: Gruet Rose NV

The Wine Curmudgeon missed this last fall, which was quite a faux pas given how much I care about regional wine. New Mexico's Gruet Winery was named the best U.S. wine producer in 2010 in the quite prestigious International Wine and Spirits Competition. Pretty impressive for a regional winery, no?

So what better way to mark the third annual DrinkLocalWine.com conference this weekend in St. Louis than with one of my all-time favorites, Gruet's rose sparkling wine? How a family of expatriate French can make such terrific bubbly in New Mexico, using pinot noir and chardonnay that they grow, is beyond me. I'm just glad they're able to do it.

The rose ($14, purchased) has a firm acidic backbone, as quality sparkling wine should, and is balanced by softer berry fruit (strawberry?). Meanwhile, there is just enough caramel, another sign of well-made bubbly, to show that the Gruets know what they are doing. Drink this chilled on its own or with any kind of spring dinner, salad or picnic. And if you have any cold fried chicken around, it would do quite nicely.

Update: The Cristalino lawsuit

Cristalino lawsuit What do you call Cristalino, the Spanish sparkling wine, after a federal court judge says that you can’t call it Cristalino?

What happens if you run a picture of the old Cristalino bottle, like the one on the left, after a federal court judge says you shouldn’t?

Who would have thought that the Wine Curmudgeon needed an attorney to write about $10 wine? But that appears to be the case these days.

Regular visitors will remember that, last August, the company that owns Cristal (and which will never be mentioned on the blog) won a judgment in U.S. federal court in Minneapolis. Cristal’s owner said there was evidence that consumers could be confused between the two brands, even though Cristal sells for hundreds of dollars and Cristalino doesn’t, and they are rarely on sale in the same location. A federal court judge agreed, and ordered Cristalino to redesign and re-label its bottle, with a disclaimer that says Cristalino isn’t affiliated with Cristal or The Company That Will Not be Named.

Fast forward to last week, when I got a letter from Cristalino. It outlined the results of the lawsuit, and asked anyone writing about their wine to:

? Change all old references on their blogs and sites from Cristalino to the new name.

? Destroy any old bottle shots or labels that we might have.

? Replace any old bottle shots or labels with new bottle shots or labels.

You will have noticed that I did not list the new name. A friend of mine suggested that I start using the phrase, “Cristalino, a great little sparkling cava from Spain, not to be confused with Cristal, a vastly overpriced French Champagne.” Which has some merit.

I do know I’m not going to change any references or pictures on the blog. It irritates me no end that I’m being asked to waste my time so a company that sells over-priced wine can get richer. And I do have certain Constitutional rights when it comes to fair comment about news, based on several Supreme Court decisions, including New York Times v. Sullivan. But since it has been a few years since my media law class, I consulted an attorney.

It was actually two attorneys, who own perhaps my favorite wine shop in Dallas (though they asked not to be named, since this isn’t their area of practice — and they emphasized that they were not giving me legal advice). Their thoughts: That I was probably safe from retribution from either Cristalino or The Company That Will Not be Named. “However,” said one, “if you continue to just say ‘Cristalino’ and they decide to sue you for an injunction, you may well end up wishing you had complied with the attached letter. The odds of that happening? Pretty slim.”

In which case, I’ll have another blog post, no doubt asking for money for my legal defense fund.

Valentine’s Day Wine 2011

Ordinarily, the Wine Curmudgeon does not participate in the festivities surrounding The Holiday that Must not be Named. But this year, given the rough winter that so many of us are having, I figured, why not? Plus, it gives me a chance to write about champagne and sparkling wine, which was the blog’s New Year’s resolution. (If you really don’t want to do bubbly, this Chalk Hill is quite nice.)

Bubbly fits Valentine ?s Day like a red paper heart (and yes, you can even drink it with chocolate). The sparkling wine glossary explains all, and the 2009 New Year’s post explained the difference between the world’s various sparkling wines.

So if you ?re wondering where to go with Valentine ?s Day wine, here are three sparkling suggestions:

? Freixenet Cordon Rosado Brut ($11, sample). Spanish bubbly is called cava, and this one is more fruity (some citrus) than similarly-priced cavas. Plus, it’s pink, so you’re getting with the holiday theme.

? Simonnet-Febvre Cremant Brut ($20, purchased). Bubbly from the Chablis region of France, which means the grapes approach champagne quality at less than half the price.

? Pol Roger White Foil Brut ($45, sample). The real stuff, ?with champagne ?s classic green apple flavor and great bubbles that stream to the top of the glass.

The Wine Curmudgeon’s cava adventure, part II

This is the second of two parts about cava, the Spanish sparkling wine — reviews of many of the cavas I tasted. The first part, an overview of cava, posted Feb. 3.

Mini-reviews of some of the cavas that I tasted during my Spanish adventure. Full disclaimer: The trip was paid for by cava producer Segura Viudas, which is part of one of the largest cava companies in the world. But no quid pro quo was part of the trip, and I have not agreed to write anything in exchange for being invited. The reviews, after the jump:

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The Wine Curmudgeon’s cava adventure, part I

The Wine Curmudgeon's cava adventure, part IThis is the first of two parts about cava, the Spanish sparkling wine. The second part, short reviews of several cavas, posted Feb. 4.

Two things confuse wine drinkers about cava, the Spanish sparkling wine. First, they assume that because it has bubbles that it’s like French champagne or California bubbly. Which it’s not. Second, because it’s so cheap — almost all of the world’s cava costs less than $15 — they figure that it’s one of those cheap wines that they shouldn’t be seen drinking in public.

Neither could be further from the truth. The Wine Curmudgeon is a long-time cava supporter; after all, it’s cheap and offers value, and that’s my reason for being. Yet even I discovered there is more to cava than meets the price tag during my trip to Spain last week. It is, as the inestimable Janet Kafka noted, “a wine that needs someone behind the label to explain it.”

What those things are, after the jump:

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