Tag Archives: wine reviews

Wine of the week: Villa Wolf Gewurztraminer 2018

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.

Imported by Loosen Bros. USA

 

2021 Cheap Wine of the Year: MAN Chenin Blanc 2019

man chenin blancSouth Africa’s MAN Vintners Chenin Blanc 2019 is the blog’s fourth annual Cheap Wine of the Year

The MAN Vintners Chenin Blanc, a South African white, appeals to the Wine Curmudgeon on a variety of levels. First, that it’s South African wine, and we know about that, don’t we? Second, that it’s chenin blanc, and we know about that, don’t we?

And, of course, that it’s cheap, delicious, and varietally correct. Because that’s what matters, and not any of the aforementioned criticisms. Hence, the MAN Vintners Chenin Blanc 2019 is the blog’s fourth annual cheap wine of the year.

In this, the MAN chenin blanc ($10, purchased, 12.5%) demonstrates once again that wine preconceptions are one of the problems with wine. Why pass up a wine as wonderful as this because you don’t drink chenin blanc, white wine, or South African wine? Because, of course, too many of you reading this now are thinking just that.

Does this wine taste like chardonnay or sauvignon blanc? Nope, because it’s not supposed to. It tastes like a New World chenin blanc — not as steely or stony as chenin from France’s Loire, but crisp and minerally enough, and with more fruit. It’s bone dry, with stone fruit and maybe some red apple, a richness that most $10 wines don’t have, and a longish finish. It’s surprisingly layered and sophisticated; swish it around in your mouth, and you’ll see what I mean. This is a white wine if you want a glass before dinner, as well something to drink with braised chicken.

The 2019 vintage is still be widely available, as is the 2018. The latter isn’t as impressive as the 2019, but it’s well made and enjoyable. The 2020 has been released, but I haven’t tried it yet.

Imported by Vineyard Brands

More Cheap Wine of the Year:
2020 Cheap Wine of the Year: Le Coeur de la Reine Gamay 2017
2019 Cheap Wine of the Year: Château La Gravière Blanc 2017
2018 Cheap Wine of the Year: Bieler Pere et Fils Rose 2016

Wine of the week: Chateau Bonnet Rouge 2015

Chateau Bonnet 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.

Imported by Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits

Wine of the week: Adami Prosecco Brut Garbel NV

adami proseccoThe 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.

Imported by Adami USA

 

Wine of the week: Gryphon Crest Pinot Noir 2016

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.

All in all, a terrific value, and the kind of wine we need more of in these days of premiumized plonk.

Imported by Imported by Cellars International/Rudi Weist

 

Christmas wine 2020

christmas wine 2020Four recommendations for Christmas wine 2020

Check out these suggestions for Christmas wine 2020, whether for a last minute gift, something to drink when you need a moment to yourself, or a holiday dinner. As always, keep our wine gift giving tips in mind — and don’t overlook the blog’s 2020 holiday gift guide.

These wines will get you started:

Torres Verdeo 2018 ($11, purchased, 13%): Ignore the silly marketing — this Spanish white is made with verdejo, but its name is Verdeo. It’s an astonishing cheap wine, an almost layered effort of something that is almost always one note. There is sort of peach fruit to balance the lemon. Highly recommended. Imported by Ste. Michelle Wine Estates

Prosper Maufoux Crémant de Bourgogne Blanc NV ($19, sample, 12%): Would that this French sparkling wine — from high-price Burgundy, no less — still cost around $15. But that’s the tariff for you. Still, it remains top-notch bubbly: Fresh, fruity (apples and lemons), tight bubbles, and nary a hint of brioche. Highly recommended. Imported by Winesellers Ltd.

Naranjas Azules Rosado 2018 ($10, purchased, 13%): This pink Spanish is quite traditional, almost orange in color, but also oh so crisp and clean and practically savory. But there’s also more modern amount of strawberry fruit. An odd and interesting and delicious wine. Highly recommended. Imported by PR Selections

Château de Ribebon 2016 ($14, purchased, 13.5%): Modern-style red Bordeaux blend that’s mostly merlot with dark berry fruit, but tempered by a bit of earth, an almost pine forest aroma, and nicely done tannins.  This is about as value-oriented as red Bordeaux gets these days. Imported by Knows Imports

More about Christmas wine:
Christmas wine 2019
Christmas wine 2018
Christmas wine 2017
Wine of the week: Chateau La Graviere Blanc 2019
Expensive wine 138: Panther Creek Pinot Noir Winemaker’s Cuvee 2017

Photo: “guardian of wine” by marcostetter is marked with CC PDM 1.0

Wine of the week: Joseph Drouhin Macon-Villages 2018

Drouhin Macon-VillagesSimple? 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.

Imported by Dreyfus Ashby