Tag Archives: wine of the week

rose

Wine of the week: La Vielle Ferme Rose 2017

La Vielle Ferme roseThe usually indifferent La Vielle Ferme rose is one of the great cheap pink finds for this summer

How surprising – and welcome – is the quality of the 2017 La Vielle Ferme rose? I bought a second bottle for this review, because I didn’t believe that the first bottle was so well done.

But it is, excellent and delcious. The La Vielle Ferme rose ($8, purchased, 13%) reminds us that rose doesn’t have to cost $25, doesn’t have to come in a fancy bottle, and doesn’t require a multi-million dollar marketing campaign. It can be an $8 bottle of screwcap grocery store wine — just what we’re looking for to mark the blog’s 11th annual rose extravaganza.

La Vielle Ferme is a decades-old cheap French wine (there’s red and a white besides the rose) that is best known for the rooster on the label and its indifferent quality. I taste the wines every year or so, and they usually taste like they always do – thin and a little bitter, the kind of wine made to sell cheaply in big bottles in a grocery store.

But the 2017 rose is much improved over previous vintages — missing the cheap wine raggedyness that it often shows. Look for a little red fruit (tart strawberry?), some minerality, and a freshness that the wine has never really had. The producer, the French giant Famille Perrin, apparently made a concerted effort to do something better than it has done.

Highly recommended, and a candidate for the 2019 $10 Hall of Fame. Buy many bottles, chill them, and then spend the summer enjoying their cheap goodness. What more can we ask of rose?

Wine of the week: Fire Road Sauvignon Blanc 2017

Fire Road sauvignon blancNew Zealand’s Fire Road sauvignon blanc is more than a one-note, grapefruit flavored white wine

The problem with most inexpensive sauvignon blanc is that only has one flavor – overwhelming citrus. This is particularly true of New Zealand sauvignon blanc, which pioneered the style. Pick up a bottle in the grocery store, be it Monkey Bay, Oyster Bay, Starborough, or whatever, and there is usually only one flavor – grapefruit. And that’s where Fire Road sauvignon blanc comes in.

The Fire Road sauvignon blanc ($12, sample, 13%) is more than a typical citrusy New Zealand sauvignon blanc. The citrus is noticeable, but it’s not just grapefruit — maybe a little lime, too. Plus there’s a bit of sweet tropical fruit in the middle to balance the citrus, and even a note of herbs to add more oomph than one expects at this price.

In this, it demonstrates that sauvignon blanc can be complex and interesting, and especially for around $10. This is something that many in the Winestream Media don’t want to believe; in their view, sauvignon blanc has always taken a back seat to chardonnay. Nuts to that.

Drink this chilled with seafood – shrimp marinated in olive oil, parsley, and garlic would be terrific.
Imported by Winesellers Ltd.

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

Wine of the week: Arrumaco Tempranillo 2015

Arrumaco TempranilloThe Spanish Arrumaco Tempranillo is cheap, delicious, and the perfect house red wine

The Wine Curmudgeon has been looking for a cheap, reliable, and well-made everyday red wine since giving up on the the Vino Fuerte and the Rene Barbier (a blend change softened and sweetened it). The Spanish Arrumaco Tempranillo may well be their successor.

No, the Arrumaco Tempranillo ($8, purchased, 13%) does not cost $5. Other than that, it’s everything the others used to be and more – an exceptional wine, stunningly well done for what it costs. It’s much more complex and interesting than an $8 wine should be, and reminds us how much difference terroir and varietal character makes.

Look for tempranillo’s cherry fruit, though a bit softer and not as tart. That’s balanced, however, by an almost licorice flavor and easy, just right tannins. The result is a lighter red wine, perfect for summer, and that it can have this much going on for this price is amazing.

Drink this on its own (maybe even a little chilled), or with burgers, pizza, or roast and grilled chicken. Highly recommended, and almost certain to enter the $10 Hall of Fame in 2019. Also worth noting: The rose and white Arrumacos are equally as delicious.

Imported by Handpicked Selections

Wine of the week: Verdillac Blanc 2015

Verdillac BlancNo matter what its name, the Verdillac Blanc is classic white Bordeaux — and for just $9

What’s in a name? Is this wine called Armand Roux Verdillac Blanc? Or just Verdillac Blanc? If so, is it a different wine and producer than the ones listed in the cyber-ether for previous vintages where it’s called Armand Roux? Or what about the 2015 called Armand Roux?

Let’s call it Verdillac Blanc ($9, purchased, 12%), since that’s what the importer calls it. And let’s hope that the confusion about the name doesn’t translate into availability problems. Because this French wine, made with sauvignon blanc, is about as classic a white wine from Bordeaux as you’ll taste any more at this price.

That means clean and fresh, from front to finish – no bitterness, no excess acidity, no lingering sweetness passed off as “fruitiness.” It’s a little stony, with the requisite lemon fruit and quite enjoyable – much more enjoyable than I expected.

Drink this chilled on its own, and especially as the days get warmer. It’s a terrific picnic and back porch wine, and will pair with salads, roasted vegetables drizzled in olive oil, and chicken on the grill.

Imported by Wine Source International

Wine of the week: Le Charmel Pinot Noir 2016

Le Charmel pinot noirThe Le Charmel pinot noir is a pleasant, enjoyable, and lighter red wine that offers more quality than it costs

Mel Masters has been making wine in France almost as long as I’ve been writing about it, which should give you an idea of how serious this expatriate Englishman is about his craft. Best yet, Masters has focused on affordable quality wine like the Le Charmel pinot noir.

The Le Charmel pinot noir ($12, sample, 13%) comes from the Languedoc in southern France, so don’t expect any high-end Burgundian sophistication. Even though the aroma is a touch earthy, there is little classical pinot noir varietal character. Having said that, it is more than $12 worth of wine – a pleasant, enjoyable, and lighter red, with a sort of dried cherry fruit flavor that doesn’t overwhelm the soft tannins or the hint of acidity that keeps the wine from tasting like it was made in bulk in California.

In fact, the Le Charmel is the kind of inexpensive pinot noir that we rarely see made in this country anymore; and no, the Mark West is not what it once was. Drink this on its own if you want a glass of wine after work, and you can even chill it a little. It would also pair with weeknight meatloaf, as well as weekend hamburgers.

Imported by Winesellers, Ltd.

Wine of the week: Little James Basket Press White 2016

Little James Basket Press whiteThe Little James Basket Press white once again offers quality, value and terroir for $10

The Wine Curmudgeon has never been able to figure out why the Little James Basket Press white keeps improving in quality while its companion red keeps getting less interesting. One would think both would improve – or not.

The Little James Basket Press white ($10, purchased, 13%) is a sauvignon blanc and viognier blend from southern France. It’s made by Sainte Cosme, a top-notch Rhone winemaker that makes high-end wines that get critical raves (and which makes the red’s drop in quality even more disappointing). That the producer spends the time and effort to make $10 wine is as welcome as it is surprising.

This vintage of the white is fresher and more tart (lemon?) than the 2015, which means more sauvignon blanc character. The viognier lends a floral aroma; if it doesn’t soften the wine, it does balance it. What doesn’t it taste like? The pinot grigio and sauvignon blanc that it’s compared to on the importer’s website. It’s French, and doesn’t resemble Italian or New Zealand wine. Which it’s not supposed to anyway.

Highly recommended, and a candidate for the 2019 $10 Hall of Fame.

Imported by The Winebow Group