The Parducci Petite Sirah Small Lot is a California red that offers structure, quality, and interest
Mike Dunne, the esteemed California wine writer, has pointed out more than once that we don’t do enough California labels as wines of the week on the blog. In fact, he and I are trying to figure out a way to fix that.
Until then, the Parducci Petite Sirah Small Lot.
The Parducci Petite Sirah ($12, purchased, 14.5%) is a California red made with one of my favorite grapes, petite sirah (which, as regular visitors know, was once one of the state’s glories). It’s surprisingly nuanced for a post-modern petite sirah, let alone one at this price. That means it has much more than just sweet dark fruit and that party cocktail mouthfeel.
Instead, it’s almost plummy, in a pleasant, old-fashioned way. Best yet, the wine opens up after 30 minutes or so to reveal a little spice and something that tastes sort of earthy (hard to believe, I know). The fruit even gets juicier, though still rich and full.
Highly recommended, and just the kind of thing for big, beefy winter dinners.
The Villa Wolf gewurztraminer is a sweet German white wine that reminds us that sweet doesn’t have to be overdone
Gewurztraminer is a white grape that is little known any more, but that once used to have a sizeable following for its price, value, and the idea that sweet wine doesn’t have to be sickly sweet. In this, the Villa Wolf gewurztraminer reminds me of what those wines were like.
The Villa Wolf Gewurztraminer 2018 ($13, purchased, 12.6%), a German white, is the kind of supermarket wine I wish we could buy in the U.S. It’s simple but not stupid, with a little bit of that spicy quality that gewurztraminer used to be known for. Riesling was oily and lemony; gewurztraminer was floral and spicy. And the Villa Wolf is, with a touch of orange-ish fruit for good measure.
So how sweet is it? My tasting notes say moderately sweet, so it’s certainly noticeable – but not as sweet as white zinfandel or even some sweet reds. In this, the sweetness is part of the wine and not something tacked on at the end, so it’s not the wine’s reason for being.
The traditional pairing for this is spicy Asian food, but I also think it would match with something fatty and salty – German sausages, perhaps.
The Chateau Bonnet is one of the world’s greatest cheap wines, even if it isn’t cheap any more
Let’s get the disclaimers out of the way: First, availability for the Chateau Bonnet may be hit and miss. Second, the vintages are all over the place. I’ve seen everything from the 2014 to the 2018. Third, the wine isn’t cheap anymore, costing as much as $20 at some retailers.
So what is the Bonnet doing as the wine of the week on the first week of January, when the blog honors the best cheap wine in the world with the Cheap Wine of the Year and the $10 Hall of Fame? Because nothing has changed about the Bonnet since I started the blog in 2007. It’s the same wine (merlot and cabernet sauvignon), made the same way, providing the same quality, and it doesn’t cost that much more to make. In fact, it’s still less than €8 in France.
But the price has almost doubled in the states for no particular reason other than premiumization. Is it any wonder I worry about the future of the wine business?
I bought the Chateau Bonnet ($15, purchased, 14%) because I missed it. I taste so much junk these days – sweet, flabby, and overpriced – that I was willing to overpay for old time’s sake. And I wasn’t disappointed.
The Bonnet is a French red blend from Bordeaux that tastes like a French red blend from Bordeaux. And how sad is it — and how much does it say about the post-modern wine business – that I have to make that point? Shouldn’t that be the way things are?
Look for a little juicy dark fruit, almost earthy tannins, enough acidity to round it all out, and that certain something that says this is a French wine. Drink this with any red meat, and especially streak frites. If you can find this for less than $15, buy a case. Otherwise, feel free to pay too much knowing it’s probably not worth $20, but that it used to be a hell of a value at $10.
The Adami Prosecco is Italian bubbly that shows how enjoyable Prosecco can be
Those of us who want more from Prosecco than a sweet, fizzy wine often have difficulty finding something that costs less than $15. Which is where the Adami Prosecco comes in.
The Adami Prosecco Brut Garbel NV ($13, purchased, 11%) combines all that makes this style of Italian sparkling wine popular while not dumbing it down. That means a quality bubbly with a bit of sweetness that is part of what’s going on and not its reason for being. In fact, I have three tasting notes for the Adami over the past decade, and each says mostly the same thing. That’s amazing consistency for a wine at this price.
Look for a fresh and rounded wine, with more apple and less tropical fruit than many similarly-priced Proseccos. It has also more and sturdier bubbles than many others, for a more enjoyable fizziness. Highly recommended, whether for New Years or just because it’s sparkling time.
The Gryphon Crest pinot noir is an intriguing German red that offers value and quality
German pinot noir is an especially wine geeky sort of thing. There isn’t necessarily a lot of it, it’s not usually available, and it’s not an especially big deal in Germany (riesling is). So why is the Gryphon Crest Pinot Noir the wine of the week?
Because, for all of that, the Gryphon Crest Pinot Noir 2016 ($14, sample, 14%) is a decidedly interesting wine. It tastes like pinot noir – sort of Burgundian, but with more fruit. In this, it’s an excellent price given the quality.
Look for some smokiness and an almost menthol kind of thing, with soft cherry fruit and much less obvious earthiness than in a Bugundian pinot. The 14 percent alcohol seems to show, making the wine a bit hot, but that might have just been me.
Simple? Yes. But isn’t that what the Joseph Drouhin Macon-Villages is supposed to be?
Blame it on the pandemic or the presidential election or even my natural crotchetiness. But the Wine Curmudgeon is getting increasingly cranky when he reads the scores and comments on CellarTracker, the blog’s unofficial wine inventory app. One note for the Drouhin Macon-Village disparaged it for being simple.
My question: What’s wrong with a simple wine? And isn’t a Macon’s reason for being to be simple? It’s not supposed to be white Burgundy, is it?
So drink the Drouhin Macon-Villages 2018 ($13, purchased, 13%) and appreciate that this is an affordable and enjoyable French chardonnay that doesn’t cost $40. There’s a role for simple wine that isn’t stupid – call it the wine that most of us enjoy drinking, regardless of a wine world that increasingly sneers at those of us who aren’t in the 1 percent.
In this, the Drouhin fits the bill. Look for a bit of lemon fruit mixed with green apple, but that isn’t too tart, as some Macons can be. In fact, the fruit is round and fresh, and there is a pleasing mineralty. Do I wish this cost $10, like it did in years past and before the tariff? Yes, but it’s still a value at this price.
Drink this on its own if you want a glass of wine after work, or open it for weeknight roast chicken thighs.
The Monte Antico Toscana is an Italian red blend not to be overlooked
The Monte Antico, an Italian red blend, is one of those wines that I see in stores, make a note to check out, and then forget about. How else to explain that I have only reviewed a well-made and very Italian wine that costs $10 – and often less – only a couple of times in 13 years?
Because the Monte Antico Toscana 2015 ($10, sample, 13%) does what all great cheap wine should do. It tastes like the part of the world that it comes from, it’s enjoyable, and you want to buy another bottle when you finish the one on the dining room table.
The blend is mostly sangiovese, but there’s enough cabernet sauvignon (10 percent) and merlot (five percent) to round out any rough edges in the sangiovese. Look for dark red fruit and an almost minty aroma, plus that biting Italian acidity that means this wine needs food. The finish is longish, and almost berryish.
Highly recommended, and especially when you can find it for less than $10. Pair this with red sauce and sausage on a cold winter’s night.