Tag Archives: wine of the week

Wine of the week: Alois Lageder Pinot Bianco 2017

Lageder pinot biancoThe Lageder pinot bianco is well worth the extra couple of dollars that it costs

What better question for the wine of the week during the blog’s 11th annual Birthday Week: How does one know when spending more than $10 on a wine in this age of crappy $15 wine isn’t a waste of money? When the wine is something like the Lageder pinot bianco.

So know the producer. The Lageder pinot bianco ( $13, purchased, 13%) comes from one of the best small wineries in Italy – a 200-year-old family business tucked away on Italy’s northern border between Switzerland and Austria. I’ve written about the Lageder wines many times. All have been worth spending the extra three for four dollars for, including and especially the pinot grigio.

The pinot bianco is no exception. Look for bright, fresh lime and green apple fruit with an almost floral aroma. In this, the wine may be more like an Oregon pinot blanc, since white wine fruit flavors tend to be subdued in Italian wine. The finish is clean and long, not quite stony but still satisfying. It’s an approachable and enjoyable wine, either on its own or with roast chicken or grilled fish. And it would be terrific for Thanksgiving – a lighter style to go with all that food.

Wine of the week: Tenuta Caparzo Sangiovese 2015

Tenuta Caparzo sangioveseThe Tenuta Caparzo sangiovese fills in the boxes on the cheap wine checklist

Let’s pull out the cheap wine checklist for the Tenuta Caparzo sangiovese:

• Made in southern France, Italy, or Spain? Check.

• Not made with cabernet sauvignon, merlot, or chardonnay? Check.

• An importer who specializes in quality and value? Check.

In other words, the Italian Tenuta Caparzo sangiovese ($12, purchased, 13.5%) is exactly what a weeknight wine should be — well-priced and professionally made, and it tastes like the grape that it’s made from and the region where the grape is grown.

Sigh. Why do we need a checklist to find wines like this?

This red from Tuscany in northern Italy is softer than a Chianti, though it’s made with the same grape. That’s a style choice (something to do with Italy’s zany appellation laws?), but it doesn’t make the wine too flabby. Look for red fruit, mostly ripe cherry, a burst of Tuscan acidity, and a little earth and spice.

Is this the best wine ever made? Or even the best cheap wine? No, but it’s not supposed to be. It’s enough to be fairly priced and enjoyable to drink on a cold Tuesday night when you’re home late and dinner is takeout pizza.

Imported by Vineyard Brands

Wine of the week: Feudo Arancio Stemmari Grillo 2017

Stemmari grilloThis vintage of the Stemmari grillo reminds us how terrific cheap Sicilian wine can be

About a decade ago, Sicily was home to some of the world’s best – and least known – cheap wine. But then the wine geeks discovered the Italian island, prices went up, and quality suffered. Case in point is the Stemmari grillo, which alternates between terrific and not worth drinking as often as a wine judge spits.

The 2017 version of the Stemmari grillo ($10, purchased, 13%) is back to terrific. As my notes say: “Much better than expected, and especially after the past several vintages.” In fact, I bought this white wine, made with the grillo grape, because I have to buy lots of bad wine to find something worth writing about.

What makes this version of the Stemmari grillo so much more interesting? It tastes like grillo, for one thing – spicy (white pepper?), with some sort of lemony apple flavor (or apple-y lemon, if you prefer), and it’s dry and clean and almost minerally. When the wine is off, it’s sort of oxidized – heavy and brandyish and about as refreshing as a kick in the head.

Highly recommended, and a candidate for the 2019 $10 Hall of Fame. Just make sure you buy this vintage, and not one of the previous two or three. Chill and drink on its on, or pair with almost anything Mediterranean that comes from the sea. And it wouldn’t be bad with humms, pita breads, and a bulgur salad, either.

Imported by Prestige Wine Imports

 

Wine of the week: Querceto Tuscan Red 2014

Querceto Tuscan Red The Querceto Tuscan Red may not be Chianti, but it does the job every quality $10 wine should do

Talk about confusing wine labels – the Querceto Tuscan Red says Chianti on it, even though it technically isn’t a Chianti – that is, a red wine from the Chianti region of Tuscany made mostly with sangiovese. But those are the Italian labeling laws for you.

In fact, the Querceto Tuscan Red ($10, purchased, 13%) is a Super Tuscan, made with 60 percent merlot, sangiovese, and a little cabernet. And, despite the confusion, it’s worth buying.

All that merlot means it’s softer than a Chianti, so there is riper and less tart cherry fruit – an almost plummy flavor. Plus, it tastes rounder and fresher in the mouth. But it’s still very Italian, with enough acidity to balance the fruit, a little earthiness, and even a touch of oak if you pay careful attention.

I drank this with my mom’s legendary chicken parmesan, given to me on a sheet of yellow legal pad when I left for college. It’s the kind of food this wine was made for, and especially as the weather gets cooler.

Imported by Prestige Wine Imports

 

Wine of the week: Ken Forrester Petit Rose 2018

Ken Forrester petit roseThe Ken Forrester petit rose may be the best rose no one has ever heard of

There’s no easy way to say this, so here it is: The Ken Forrester petit rose is a brilliant wine, consistent from year to year, and a tremendous value. But good luck trying to buy it, given the failures of the three-tier system.

In fact, the Ken Forrester petit rose ($10, purchased, 12.5%) is one of several top-notch wines from this outstanding South African producer that are difficult to buy in the U.S. Why? Because it’s South African wine, hardly the darling of the distributors or retailers; because Forrester isn’t a big winery; and because the winery has had importer problems for at least as long as I have been writing about it.

In a perfect world, where we could buy wine the way we buy pants and computers, none of that would matter. But since wine has the three-tier system, we have to make do. Which is a shame, because the rose is everything a great pink wine should be.

Look for strawberry aromas, but not the syrupy, overdone kind that poorly made roses sometimes show. There is fresh, just ripe raspberry fruit flavor, and the finish is precise and almost stony. All in all, the kind of wine to buy again and again. Highly recommended, and a candidate for the 2019 $10 Hall of Fame.

Wine of the week: Garofoli Superiore Macrina 2017

arofoli Superiore MacrinaThe Garofoli Superiore Macrina is an Italian white wine that offers surprising quality and value

Of all the things the Wine Curmudgeon loves about wine – and I love almost everything about it – my favorite might be finding an inexpensive wine of tremendous quality that I knew nothing about. In other words, a wine like the Garofoli Superiore Macrina.

The Garofoli Superiore Macrina ($13, purchased, 12%) is an Italian white wine made with the verdicchio grape from the Marche region. Don’t worry if you don’t know either; they’re not especially important in the Winestream Media scheme of things. The only reason I bought the bottle is that the Italian Wine guy recommended it, and few know more about Italian wine value than he does.

The wine was everything it should have been – somehow, both fresh and rich, with an almost creamy approach that tasted of almonds and citrus. But it wasn’t heavy, which is what that description makes it sound like. The finish, in fact, was clean and crisp, with lots of minerality. Is it any wonder I enjoyed it so much?

Drink this chilled on its own or with almost any kind of grilled or boiled seafood (the Marche is on the Adriatic coast). A note about the price – they’re all over the board, from as little as $11 to $16.

Imported by Garofoli USA

Wine of the week: Mont Gravet Carignan 2017

mont gravet carignanThe Mont Gravet carignan is professional and terroir-driven cheap wine

The 2015 Mont Gravet carignan was one of the great cheap wines of all time, on a par with the legendary black Jaja de Jau and the Hogue fume blanc. The 2016 version was quality cheap wine, if not quite the 2015. The 2017, though, is almost as terrific as the 2015 was.

That’s because the current vintage of the French Mont Gravet carignan ($10, sample, 12.5%) is more earthy and interesting than the 2016. In other words, this red from the south of French (made with the carignan grape) displays vintage difference. How often do we see that in $10 wine?

The 2017 has less ripe red fruit, as well as more structure and acidity than the 2016. In addition, look for some spice, the tiniest hint of vanilla (from oak staves in steel tanks – fake oak as it should be done), and a clean and refreshing finish. Would that more cheap wine was this professional and terroir-driven.

Highly recommended, and should return to the Hall of Fame in 2019. This is red wine for grilled vegetables, burgers and sausages on the barbecue, and even something like smoked pork shoulder.

Imported by Winesellers Ltd.