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Spanish wine may offer the best value in the world — part I

This is the first of two parts discussing why Spanish wine may be the best value in the world today. Part II, with some of Spain’s best-value wines, will post tomorrow. The Read More »

wineofweek

Wine of the week: Pennywise Petite Sirah 2012

The Wine Curmudgeon long ago accepted the fact that petite sirah didn’t taste like petite sirah, that it had been bastardized by Big Wine to taste like a darker fruit version of Read More »

winenews

Winebits 353: Special rose edition

Because rose is no longer the province of cranks like the Wine Curmudgeon, but has become real wine celebrated by the wine establishment. • Making money with rose: South Africa’s Mulderbosch, whose Read More »

winerant

What the media didn’t tell you about the CDC alcohol death study

This is not a critique of the science in the Centers for Disease Control study that equated drinking wine with dinner as binge drinking. I’m not a doctor or researcher. I’m also Read More »

winereview

Mini-reviews 65: Taris, Gruet, Cabirau, Yalumba

Reviews of wines that don’t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another. Look for it on the final Friday of each month. • Chateau Taris 2012 ($6, Read More »

Spanish wine may offer the best value in the world — part I

winetrends

Spanish wineThis is the first of two parts discussing why Spanish wine may be the best value in the world today. Part II, with some of Spain’s best-value wines, will post tomorrow.

The reasons are many, and they add up to the same thing: Spanish wine, whether red, white, pink, or bubbly, probably offers the best value in the world, and certainly for the cheap wine that we celebrate here.

Count the reasons:

•  Continuing political and economic unrest in Spain. The Eurozone’s inability to recover from the recession, combined with Spain’s particular problems (including 25 percent unemployment), have devastated the domestic wine market. Hence Spain’s need to export at very competitive prices.

• Spanish wine staying the province of Spanish companies, as opposed to multinationals buying or taking over Spanish producers. This has allowed Spanish companies to focus on Spanish wine, instead of Spanish wine being one small part of a larger company.

• Spanish producers focusing on Spanish varietals that taste like Spanish wine, saving us from the spectacle of Spanish chardonnay. This switch to the so-called international varietals has been a problem elsewhere, even though the Italians refuse to admit it.

• Improvements in technology, winemaking, and grape growing. This is part of the revolution seen elsewhere in the world, and the Spanish have not been left behind.

• Spain’s relative anonymity in the U.S. market, which means that its wines have to be better and offer more value — not only to attract consumers, but to convince distributors and retailers they’re worth carrying. If you’re going to take shelf space away from cash cows like Kendall Jackson, Yellow Tail, and Barefoot, you’d better be pretty good.

• Some of the best importers in the world, who can find the wines that fit these requirements. I regularly rave about Ole Imports; Hand-Picked Selections is also excellent, and Eric Solomon and Jorge Ordonez have long been bringing in top-flight Spanish wines. And that’s only a handful of the best.

Wine of the week: Pennywise Petite Sirah 2012

wineofweek

Pennywise Petite Sirah 2012The Wine Curmudgeon long ago accepted the fact that petite sirah didn’t taste like petite sirah, that it had been bastardized by Big Wine to taste like a darker fruit version of grocery store merlot on the cheap end and by high-end winemakers to taste like high-alcohol syrah or zinfandel.

So it is with great joy that I can report that the Pennywise ($12, sample, 13.5%), a California red wine, tastes like petite sirah. Really. And for only $12, which means it’s probably closer to $10 at many retailers.

Look for lots of plum, some herbal notes, quietly done fake oak, and even tannins and acidity to round everything out. The latter surprised me even more than the plum, since it seems to be the goal of most large producers to take tannins and acidity out of cheap red wine so as not to offend consumers (and that the wine suffers is just a minor inconvenience). How much did I like this wine? I’m recommending it even though the tasting notes say the finish includes “toasted cedar plank,” which is one of those descriptors that makes most of us reach for a beer.

This is a burger and weeknight pizza wine, in which the wine will do its job and make the food taste better. That’s a fine accomplishment for a $10 red wine. That it’s petite sirah is even better.

Winebits 353: Special rose edition

winenews

Rose wine newsBecause rose is no longer the province of cranks like the Wine Curmudgeon, but has become real wine celebrated by the wine establishment.

Making money with rose: South Africa’s Mulderbosch, whose rose is regularly featured here, has discovered that rose is profitable. Or, as a leading Winestream Media outlet put it, part of the “high-flying rose segment.” Mulderbosch, which did barely any business in the U.S. save for the rose in years past, will see its rose sales in 2014 double the volume it did for all of its wines in 2013. Of course, this being the Winestream Media, the article skirts the reason for the rose’s success, that it’s cheap and tastes good. That’s too much truth, apparently.

Make it Kosher, please: My pal Lou Marmon has a dry rose, Israel’s Recanati, in his list of value Kosher wines for the Jewish High Holy Days. Lou has always been a rose supporter, and it’s good to see rose making a name for itself in Kosher wine. Which, of course, has too long been seen as nothing more than sweet red.

Revenge! Which is the Wine Curmudgeon’s poor attempt at a pop culture reference. New York’s Hamptons, home to lots of rich people, Ina Garten of “Barefoot Contessa” cooking show fame, and a very odd network TV series that includes Madeline Stowe, suffered through a rose crisis this summer. The New York Post, whose Page Six was invented to keep track of just such threats to western civilization, reported that there was very little rose to be had over Labor Day weekend. Fortunately, the situation wasn’t as bad as in 2012, when rose was rationed. Who knew? Note to rich people: The next time you run out of rose, go here. Or have your assistant do it. It lists all the rose reviews on the blog, most $10, and you should be able to find one of them the next time rose is rationed.

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