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Christmas wine 2014

• Order by noon Monday for holiday delivery for the cheap wine book Wine suggestions for the holiday next week, whether you need to buy a gift or aren’t sure about what to Read More »

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Bogle edges Barefoot to win 2014 cheap wine poll

• Order by noon Monday for holiday delivery for the cheap wine book Talk about a hanging chad. Bogle won the 2014 cheap wine poll by a margin so thin that the Read More »

wineofweek

Wine of the week: Tiefenbrunner Pinot Bianco 2011

• Order by noon Monday for holiday delivery for the cheap wine book Many of us who were liberal arts students in the 1970s spent a lot of time with European history, Read More »

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WC will teach wine class at El Centro College

What’s the best way to reach consumers and undermine all the foolishness that the wine business and its allies in the Winestream Media foist off on them? Get ‘em while they’re young. Read More »

winenews

Winebits 364: Corks, liquor stores, restaurant wine

• When will they learn? The cork business, as has been noted previously, doesn’t understand wine in the 21st century. And their problems with quality control haven’t helped, either. Hence yet another Read More »

Christmas wine 2014

winereview

• Order by noon Monday for holiday delivery for the cheap wine book


Christmas wine 2014Wine suggestions for the holiday next week, whether you need to buy a gift or aren’t sure about what to serve family and friends, be it for dinner or just because:

Sileni Pinot Noir 2013 ($16, sample, 12.5%): This red wine from New Zealand has been winning awards around the world this year, and why not? It tastes like pinot noir, with dark cherry fruit, soft but still noticeable tannins, and no hint that the wine wants to be anything other than pinot noir, like lots of alcohol or over the top jamminess. If it doesn’t taste like red Burgundy, and I don’t know why it should, it tastes like what it is — one of the best pinots at this price from anywhere in the world.

Grgich Hills Merlot 2010 ($42, sample, 14.8%): Another remarkable effort from Grgich, which has been making this sort of wine for so long we tend to take it for granted. This California red somehow combines high alcohol with style, finesse, and even some earthiness. Look for red fruit and an almost licorice finish. It’s big enough for red meat, but well made enough to enjoy without it.

Chateau d’Archambeau 2012 ($14, purchased, 12.5%): Just when I’ve given up on finding white Bordeaux that tastes like white Bordeaux — minerality and crispness without an overabundance of citrus fruit — along comes this French white, made with two-thirds sauvignon blanc and one-third semillon. Nicely done, and worth the extra couple of bucks compared to something like Chateau Bonnet. Sip on its own, or with holiday turkey.

Argyle Brut 2010 ($22, purchased, 12.5%): Argyle always seems to show up in holiday wine roundups here, but there’s a reason for that. It’s one of the best sparkling wines, dollar for dollar, made in the U.S. — about half the price of its California counterparts, and with that much better quality than less expensive California bubblies. Lots of apple fruit, but also some creaminess. Drink for toasting or with almost any food that isn’t prime rib.

Hacienda Araucano Reserva Carmenere 2013 ($10, sample, 14%): Carmenere is a red grape from Chile that is supposed to vaguely resemble an earthy merlot, but mostly tastes like grocery store merlot. This wine, from the same family that owns Bonnet, is carmenere the way it should be, and especially at this price. Look for black fruit and some grip, a welcome change from all of the flabby carmeneres on the market. Beef wine without a doubt.

More about Christmas wine:
Christmas wine 2013
Christmas wine 2012
Wine of the week: Astoria Prosecco NV
Wine of the week: Little James’ Basket Press NV

Bogle edges Barefoot to win 2014 cheap wine poll

cheapwineheart

Order by noon Monday for holiday delivery for the cheap wine book


2014 cheap wine pollTalk about a hanging chad. Bogle won the 2014 cheap wine poll by a margin so thin that the outcome was in doubt until the voting ended on Tuesday night. It recorded just four more thumbs up votes than runner-up Barefoot; the latter’s thumbs down votes were more harmful, with three times as many as Bogle.

This is shocking, given that Barefoot finished sixth last year after spending most of the poll in ninth place. Plus, it’s not like I’ve been enthusiastic about Barefoot over the years, and the brands that it beat are some of the best cheap wines in the world. Barefoot second ahead of last year’s winner, Falesco Vitiano, which dropped to seventh? Unbelievable.

The explanation? Availability, I think. The top three wines, which included McManis at No. 3, are sold in grocery stores and are easier to find than most of the rest. You can only vote on what you’ve tasted, and a lot of people have tasted Barefoot. On the other hand, Two-buck Chuck was a badly beaten 10th for the second year in a row, and a lot of people have tasted it.

Other surprises? Chateau Bonnet, which is one of the last cheap French wines that tastes French and not like it was made by a committee obsessed with the so-called American palate, was ninth, with more negative votes than positive after finishing fifth in 2013. I can’t think of a reason for this, unless the voters don’t like French wines that taste French or are still hung up on freedom fries. On the other hand, Domain du Tariquet finished fourth, and that’s also a French wine that remains completely French.

Complete results are here, or you can click on the graphic at the top of the post. You can see last year’s poll here. Thanks to everyone for voting. We mostly equaled last year’s vote tally, and given the site’s Google woes over the past 12 months, that’s not too bad.

Wine of the week: Tiefenbrunner Pinot Bianco 2011

wineofweek

Order by noon Monday for holiday delivery for the cheap wine book


Tiefenbrunner Pinot Bianco Many of us who were liberal arts students in the 1970s spent a lot of time with European history, and one of the things we learned is that national borders were flexible. Unlike the U.S., where we believe in mostly straight lines that are always the same, European borders have changed frequently over the past 500 years. A war, a new ruler, or a dynastic marriage, and part of one country would become part of another without any trouble at all.

What does this have to do with wine? A lot, actually, as only the Wine Curmudgeon would take the time to point out. Northern Italy wasn’t Italian the way we understand it for most of those of 500 years, but part of various German-speaking states, including the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Which means there is a tradition in Northern Italy of wine producers with German-sounding last names making wine with German grapes.

Alois Lageder does it, and so does the Tiefenbrunner family, as the pinot bianco ($15, purchased, 13%) demonstrates. Hence a label that says both pinot bianco and weissburgunder, the grape’s German name (which is pinot blanc in French) on it. Pinot bianco is softer and more floral than pinot grigio, and is much more enjoyable at the lower prices I write about.

This wine is an excellent example of pinot bianco. Look for green apple fruit with an undercurrent of something almost tropical, lots of white flower aromas, and a minerality and acidity that don’t overwhelm the wine the way they can in pinot grigio. That I bought a previous vintage, and paid more than I usually do, attests to the Tiefenbrunner quality. Highly recommended, even at $15.

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