Tag Archives: white wine

Wine of the week: Ipsum 2017

ipsumIpsum, a Spanish white, demonstrates that wine doesn’t have to cost $40 to be well made and delicious

One of the many advantages of doing the blog is that I get to taste terrific wine I might not taste otherwise. The Ipsum may be the best example of that.

The Ipsum ($10, sample, 13%) is a cheap wine that is consistently excellent, and has been since I wrote my first review of it in 2009. In this, it demonstrates the perennial value of Spanish wine, the integrity of the producer and importer, and that wine doesn’t have to cost $40 to be well made and delicious.

This version may be the best vintage of the past 10, which is saying something considering how wonderful the Ipsum usually is. The 2017 offers more than just the crisp, and sometimes tart, lemon fruit that is common in white wine made with the verdejo grape. Instead, there’s an almost almond nuttiness mingling with green herbs and even some spices. In addition, there ‘s a surprisingly full mouth feel, something else that isn’t common with $10 verdejo wines.

Chill this and drink it on its own, or pair with grilled chicken or seafood. Highly recommended, and certain to take its place in the $10 Hall Fame next year. It’s also a candidate for the 2019 Cheap Wine of the Year.

Imported by Ole Imports

Expensive wine 112: Chateau Montelena Chardonnay 2015

Chateau Montelena ChardonnayThe Chateau Montelena chardonnay remains classic California white wine

The Big Guy and I were drinking pricey California chardonnay, which is probably worth a blog post all by itself given our devotion to white Burgundy. The point here, though, is that the wines we tasted, which included the Chateau Montelena chardonnay, reminded us that California producers can make some of the best wine in the world.

The Chateau Montelena chardonnay ($48, purchased, 13.5%) remains the kind of California wine that helped earn the world’s attention at the Judgment of Paris in 1976. It’s elegant and balanced, without the too much of one thing or another that makes me crazy when I taste high-end California chardonnay. Yes, some of my colleagues may consider this a fuddy-duddy approach to winemaking, but it’s their problem if they can’t appreciate grace and virtuosity.

What makes the Chateau Montelena chardonnay so classic? Taste this – even just one sip – and you can tell it’s Napa Valley chardonnay. That means more fruit (a lovely, barely ripe green apple) and an undercurrent of minerality, as well as layers of structure. The oak is decidedly New World, but it isn’t over the top and will integrate into the wine over the next several years.

Highly recommended. This is a delicious wine that will only get better over the next five years and could last even longer.

Labor Day wine 2018

labor day wine 2018Four value and quality-oriented bottles to enjoy for Labor Day wine 2018

What’s a Labor Day wine? Wine that takes the edge of the heat (it will be mid-90s in Dallas, fairly normal), suitable for porch sitting, picnics, and barbecues. In other words, light wines for warm weather.

These four bottles are fine start as part of Labor Day wine 2018:

La Fiera Pinot Grigio 2017 ($10, purchased, 12%): This Italian white wine is almost always worth drinking, a step up from grocery store pinot grigio (a little lemon fruit to go with the tonic water). This vintage is certainly that, and almost Hall of Fame quality. Imported by Winesellers Ltd.

Matua Pinot Noir Rose 2017  ($12, sample, 13%): Big Wine at its best — Fresh and tart berry fruit, plus a crispness I didn’t expect from a company that is one of the largest in the world. If not a little choppy in the back, it’s a candidate for the Hall of Fame. Imported by TWE Imports

Moulin de Canhaut 2014 ($10, purchased, 13%): This French red Bordeaux is everything cheap French wine should be — simple but not stupid, earthy, and just enough tart black fruit. It’s also an example of how screwed up the wine business is, that someone would send me a sample of a wine that may not be available in the U.S.

Naveran Brut Rosado 2016 ($15, sample, 12%): This Spanish bubbly is one of the world’s great sparkling wines, a cava that compares favorablly to wines costing two and three times as much. Clean and bright, with more citrus than berry flavors.  Highly recommended.

For more about Labor Day wine:
Labor Day wine 2017
Labor Day wine 2016
Labor Day wine 2015

Mini-reviews 112: French Bar, Domaine du Seuil, furmint, rose

french barReviews 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.

French Bar Petite Sirah 2015 ($19, sample, 13.9%): This California red tastes of stewed plums and is big and rich — about what you would expect from a $19 petite sirah where the heavy bottle and fancy foil seal probably cost more than the wine.

Domaine du Seuil 2016 ($18, purchased, 12%): Nicely done white Bordeaux with not too tart lemon fruit; clean, minerally, and enjoyable. However, there’s nothing especially exciting about it, and especially at this price. Imported by Scott Levy Selections

Chateau Pajzos Furmint 2016 ($12, purchased, 12%): Would that a Hungarian white like this, made with the less known furmint grape, would be the next big thing. Look for a little spice, some stone fruit, and a touch of sweetness. But it’s also fresh and lively. Highly recommended, but may be difficult to find. Imported by Wines with Conviction

Bertani Bertarose Rose 2017 ($15, sample, 12%): Pleasant, if overpriced, Italian rose that is fresh and clean, with a bit of tart berry fruit. Find this at $10 or $12 and you’ve got a fine value. Imported by Palm Bay International

Wine of the week: Chateau Goudichaud Blanc 2016

chateau godichaudFind the Chateau Godichaud for $12, and congratulate yourself on wine shopping well done

The recent post about inflated Bordeaux wine prices is the ideal introduction to Chateau Goudichaud. This is a white blend from the Bordeaux region of France that should cost $10 or $12 but can be twice as expensive in the U.S. Its European grocery store price? About $10.

I was lucky; there was a 20 percent off sale when I bought the Chateau Godichaud ($12, purchased, 12.5%) this summer. As my notes say: “It is what it always is — $9 or $10 worth of white Bordeaux that costs as much as $20 in the U.S. because it’s from Bordeaux.

This is not damning with faint praise; rather, it’s pointing out how difficult it is to find value these days. The Chateau Godichaud is a terrific wine at $10 or $12, and I’d pay $15 for it in a pinch. But $20? It’s time for beer.

Look for a little stoniness, not too much citrus, and a fresh and clean approach despite the older vintage. In this, the semillon in the blend balances the sauvignon blanc and doesn’t turn the wine soft or flabby. There’s a pleasant richness in the mouth I didn’t expect. All in all, it’s the kind of simple, enjoyable, and straightforward weeknight wine that you can chill and drink with takeout roast chicken – the kind of wine we used to be able to buy all the time. Now, we need to hope it’s on sale.

Wine of the week: Ryder Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2017

Ryder Estate sauvignon blancThe Ryder Estate sauvignon blanc reminds us that California can still offer delicious cheap wine that offers quality and value

Regular visitors here know how despondent the Wine Curmudgeon has been the past three or four months, what with rising wine prices, decreasing wine quality, and an increasing amount of foolishness from the wine business. And then, from out of nowhere, the Ryder Estate sauvignon blanc arrived.

Ryder Estate is made by one of the oldest producers in Monterey County, but I’d never heard of it until the samples arrived. That was my loss. The wines were mostly enjoyable and fairly priced, and the chardonnay and rose were especially well made. The Ryder Estate sauvignon blanc ($12, sample, 13.5%) was even better, almost certain to make the 2019 $10 Hall of Fame and a candidate for the 2018 Cheap Wine of the Year.

This is California wine at its best, and something we don’t see much these days. It offers quality and value, as well as professional winemaking to make those happen. It’s true California sauvignon blanc, and not tarted up with sweet grape juice, flavored with fake oak, or a New Zealand sauvignon blanc knockoff. It’s varietally correct and delicious – fresh, grassy, stony, a bit of citrus and a hint of tropical fruit, and much more balanced than I expected or that we usually see in sauvignon blanc at this price.

Chill this and drink it on its own on a warm summer evening, or pair with grilled chicken or shrimp marinated in olive oil, garlic, and lemon juice. And then you can worry a little less about the future of the wine business.

Wine of the week: Wente Sauvingon Blanc Louis Mel 2016

wente sauvignon blancThe Wente sauvignon blanc is a California white wine that speaks to terroir and quality

The Wente sauvignon blanc is a top-notch California white wine that’s widely available – even in some grocery stores. So why has it been seven years since it appeared as the wine of the week?

Blame it on the wine business.

Pricing, for one, is incredibly screwy. The suggested retail price is $18. It’s $16 on wine-searcher.com, $15 at wine.com, and as little as $11 in Dallas. Given that I try to keep the wine of the week at less than $15, and preferably $10 to $12, how do I decide what the real price is so I can use it?

This time, though, quality wins out. The current vintage of the Wente sauvignon blanc (sample, 13%) is classic California sauvingon blanc, the kind of wine that speaks to terroir but has been shunted aside in the rush to make everything taste like a New Zealand sauvignon blanc grapefruit.

The Wente is so far removed from New Zealand — and even some French sauvingon blancs – that many people won’t believe that’s what it is. But that’s exactly what it is, in all its grassy aroma glory – the smell of a freshly mowed lawn. It’s crisp and refreshing, but not simple, and there is just enough citrus flavor (lemongrass?) to hold the wine together.

Highly recommended, and areminder that not all wine has to taste alike –and that it’s not supposed to taste alike.