Tag Archives: tempranillo

Fourth of July wine 2017

Fourth of July wine 2015

Fourth of July wineWhat do many of us do when we celebrate a birthday? Drink wine, of course, whether it’s for a toast or for a birthday dinner. So why not do the same thing when the United States celebrates its birthday?

Best yet, the Fourth of July is a terrific porch wine holiday, a concept that doesn’t get enough attention in our rush to drink as much heavy, over-oaked, and too much alcohol wine because our wine betters tell us we’re supposed to.

So consider these wines as a starting point for your July 4 celebration (and all with a July 4 connection):

Listel Grain de Gris Rose 2014 ($12, purchased, 12.5%): This very pale rose, from Camargue in Van Gogh country in the south of France, is unlike almost any French rose I’ve ever had. There’s freshness and lots of soft strawberry fruit, but it’s not crisp or tart. Having said that, it’s still fun to drink, and the bottle is gone before you realize it. And, of course, we wouldn’t have won the Revolutionary War without French money, troops, and ships.

Mumm Napa Brut Prestige NV ($20, purchased, 12.5%): Tried and true California sparkler with firm bubbles and apple and citrus fruit — and is widely available. Price isn’t bad, either, given how ridiculous most Champagne prices are.

Pedroncelli Sauvignon Blanc 2014 ($14, sample, 13.4%): This California white is only going to get better with age, and it’s well done now — aromatic grassiness and some citrus, plus clean, crisp, and a solid finish.

Baron Amarillo Rioja Reserva 2010 ($10, purchased, 13.5%): This Spanish tempranillo — Spain being another important U.S. ally in 1776 — has lots of oak and cherry fruit in some sort of balance, though not as subtle as more expensive reservas. Still, better than most of the world’s $10 wine, and just what you want for a July 4 barbecue.

More Fourth of July wine:
Fourth of July wine 2014
Fourth of July wine 2013
Fourth of July wine 2012
Wine of the week: Josep Masachs Resso 2013

12 wines for International Tempranillo Day

Tempranillo dayThese 12 wines show tempranillo in many of its 21st century styles. There’s classic tempranillo from the Rioja region of Spain; post-modern Spanish tempranillo; regional tempranillo from Texas and Colorado; a highly-regarded Oregon label; and even one from Argentina.

Tempranillo for years languished in wine’s outer orbit, though that banishment had little to do with quality. Rijoa’s wines are some of the best in the world. Rather, tempranillo wasn’t cabernet sauvignon, merlot, or pinot noir, and those are the reds that got most of the attention. Wine geeks knew about it, but the grape deserves a wider audience than that.

Enter the Internet, which has allowed tempranillo and its advocates to sidestep the Winestream Media, as with today’s fourth annual International Tempranillo Day. Also important: The discovery that tempranillo does well outside of Spain, something that no one understood before and that has revolutionized Texas wine. I’ve even had tempranillo from Idaho, about as different a region from Rioja as imaginable. No castles, for one thing.

Why is tempranillo worth drinking? First, the Spanish versions are among the best values in the world. Second, it’s a food-friendly wine that doesn’t insult the wine drinker; in fact, most tempranillo needs food, be it red meat or roast chicken. Third, it’s not the usual red wine, and anyone who wants to enjoy wine should be eager to try something that isn’t the usual.

After the jump, the wines: Continue reading

Wine of the week: Faustino VII Tinto 2010

faustino viiWhen the Wine Curmudgeon started drinking wine, but before I started paying as much attention as I do now, a version of the Faustino was on store shelves. How old-fashioned, I thought, Roman numerals on a wine label.

Which is why I appreciate the Faustino VII ($8, purchased, 13%), and even a vintage as old as this one (of which there is still quite a bit on store shelves). It’s a Spanish red from the Rioja region, made with tempranillo, and about as old-fashioned a Rioja as you’ll find these days — from the Roman numerals to its traditional style, which is one reason why a 2010 $10 wine is still drinkable. The Spanish rarely make wines, even cheap ones, that go off in a year or two.

This isn’t Hall of Fame quality wine, but it’s not supposed to be. It’s Tuesday night takeout wine, orange beef, perhaps. It’s simple, but simple doesn’t mean stupid or insipid. Bodegas Faustino is a 150-year-old producer, and they’ve found a winemaking approach that works. And has worked. And keeps working.

Look for cherry fruit, Spanish-style acid, earthiness, and even what seemed to be a little oxidation — not unpleasant, but another sign of an old-fashioned Spanish wine. My guess is that the newer vintages, and there is a 2013, will taste about the same, minus the oxidation. That’s consistency to be appreciated.

Spanish wine

Spanish wine may offer the best value in the world — part II

Spanish wine reviewsThis is the second of two parts discussing why Spanish wine may be the best value in the world today. Part I, an overview of why Spain offers so much value, is here.

If wine drinkers know Spanish wine, it’s tempranillo from Rijoa or Ribera del Duero. Older wine drinker might know Spanish sherry, while the hipsters know garnacha and the Winestream Media-hyped wines from the Priorat. In this, it’s as if nothing has happened in Spain over the past 20 years.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Spanish wine — red, white, pink, and bubbly — is better than ever. Cava, the Spanish sparkling, has received most of the attention, but it’s not alone in the Spanish wine renaissance. The whites, including viura, verdejo, and albarino, can be spectacular for as little as $10. The reds, always excellent from the best regions, have improved dramatically regardless of where they’re from. Aldi’s $5 Vina Decana tempranillo (which, sadly, appears to be gone) is from Utiel-Requena, about as little known as a Spanish wine region gets.

These wines, tasted over the past six months, will get you started in understanding what’s going on in Spain. But they’re just a sample, and I could have listed a dozen more. The lesson? Don’t be afraid to strike out on your own. It will be hard to go wrong.

Muga Rosado 2013 ($10, purchased, 13%): One of the best roses in the world, always fresh and delicious. This vintage has tart strawberry fruit. As one CellarTracker user wrote: “My fifth bottle this summer,” which seems about as good a recommendation as possible.

deAlto Amo Blanco 2012 ($10, purchased, 13%): My tasting notes for this white, made mostly with viura, quibble about crispness and whether it’s too floral. How much have the Spanish spoiled me that I’m looking for things to complain about ?

Columna R as Baixas 2011 ($10, purchased, 12.5%): This white, made with albarino, is another excellent example of the quality wine that Ole Imports brings to the U.S. Still fresh, despite being an older vintage, with a really interesting, almost baking spice middle.

Cune Crianza 2010 ($15, purchased, 13.5%): Yes, this red from Rioja, a tempranillo blend, is three times better than the Decana, which means it’s close to spectacular. Deep, rich cherry fruit, a hint of bitter orange, layered oak, and a full, complete finish. Highly recommended.

Evodia 2013 ($10, sample, 14.5%): This red, made with garnacha, is a hipster wine that the rest of us can enjoy. The last time I tasted it, it was 15 percent alcohol and still drinkable; this vintage, with lots of cherry fruit, good weight, and some black pepper, is even better. I’m always surprised I like it as much as I do.

Val de Vid Verdejo 2010 ($10, purchased, 12.5%): Yes, the vintage is correct, and how a white wine that costs $10 and is this old can be this delicious is beyond me. Has white pepper and a sort of pear fruit that could also be lime without the citrus, plus a longish finish.

Wine of the week: El Coto Rioja Crianza 2008

bottle-coto-crianza-37-5-clThe Wine Curmudgeon has been tasting a lot of post-modern Spanish wine lately, the kind made to appeal to the American palate and the Winestream Media. That means they have as much as 1 1/2 points more alcohol and lots of sweet red fruit. The wines are sound (my new favorite wine term), but just don ?t taste particularly Spanish. There ?s nothing really wrong with this, as long as you understand what ?s going on.

The El Coto ($11, purchased, 12.5%) , on the other hand, will never be confused with one of those wines. It ?s about as Spanish as they come ?  red wine from the Rioja region made with tempranillo, a very funky, classic mushroom/forest floor aroma, and a fair of amount of oak on the finish that shows up as vanilla. And don ?t worry about it being an older current vintage, since that ?s not unusual for Rioja.

What makes this wine even more enjoyable is that it ?s not old-fashioned in technique. There is lots and lots of bright cherry fruit, all in balance and all quite pleasant. And, since it ?s Rioja, it will pair with everything from roast chicken to meatier fish to grilled beef to Spanish cheese.

If this isn ?t quite a $10 Hall of Fame wine, it ?s a reminder that old-fashioned doesn ?t always mean out of date.

Mini-reviews 36: Ribera, La Vieille Ferme, Rodney Strong, Sledgehammer

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:

? Bodegas Pe alba L pez Monte Castrillo 2009 ($13, sample): Spanish tempranillo from Ribera del Duero with lots of thickish red fruit that needs beefy dishes. Decent value, but you have to like wine made this way.

? La Vieille Ferme Blanc 2011 ($8, purchased): Hugely disappointing vintage from the French white that is a long-time blog favorite. Big-time banana fruit, which not only isn't pleasant, but shows a change in winemaking to softer and more sweetish approach.

? Rodney Strong Sauvignon Blanc 2010 ($13.50, sample): Always dependable and value-driven California white. Look for melon and California grassiness, thought not quite as citrusy as other west coast sauvignon blancs.

? Sledgehammer Zinfandel 2009 ($15, sample): Yes, it is. A massive, oaky, and alcoholic zinfandel with extracted jammy fruit if that's what you're in the mood for.

Wine of the week: Vinos Jerom n El Posadero 2010

El PosaderoDuring our #winechat discussion last week, one of the questions I got was how regional wine producers could make it easier for Americans to drink wine that wasn't called chardonnay, cabernet, and merlot. Many regional wines are made with grapes most consumers aren't familiar with, like blanc du bois, viognier and tempranillo; hence, they're reluctant to try them.

My suggestion: Don't call the wines by their varietal name, which too many wineries feel compelled to do for reasons I've never been able to figure out. Call them something fun or interesting or inventive.

Case in point is the El Posadero ($10, purchased), a tempranillo blend that is more or less the Spanish equivalent of U.S. regional wine. It comes from a less respected region around Madrid, and not the better known tempranillo appellations of Rioja or Ribera del Duero. This means the wine starts out with an image problem, especially for U.S. consumers. Calling it El Posadero goes a long way towards fixing that. Even if you don't know what El Posadero means (innkeeper, actually, and there's a picture of an inn on the label), it sounds Spanish and intriguing.

And it's a pretty nifty wine, too. The El Posadero is blended with syrah, but doesn't have as much fruit as I thought it would (and is actually a little old-fashioned in spirit). Look for an almost spicy wine with some cherry fruit and lots of acidity — practically sour cherry tart. It needs food, like smoked chicken or beef, but that's part of the appeal of the wine.