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Category Archives: $10 wine

Wine of the week: Kon Tiki Merlot 2014

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kon tiki merlotMichael Franz, who judged the flight of $15 and under merlots at the Critics Challenge with me last month, was even less optimistic abut finding quality wine among the nine entries than I was. And regular visitors here know how the Wine Curmudgeon feels about $10 grocery store merlot.

So if Michael was happy, then you know the wine was worth drinking. We gave six medals, including a platinum to the Chilean Kon Toki merlot ($12, sample, 13.2%) — easily one of the best grocery store merlots I’ve had in years. It tasted like merlot and not a chocolate cherry cocktail, with almost unheard of depth and subtlety. Look for a black currant aroma followed by black fruit and very correct tannins that weren’t harsh or off, but complemented the fruit.

This is the kind of wine to buy by the case and keep around the house when you want a glass of red wine that does what red wine is supposed to do, and that doesn’t offend you with too much fruit, bitterness, or oak. Drink it on its own, or with any weeknight red wine dinner, from meat loaf to takeout pizza. Dad probably wouldn’t mind a bottle, either, if he needs something for Father’s Day.

Highly recommended, and a candidate for the $10 Wine Hall of Fame if I can find it for that price. The only catch? The importer lists distributors in 33 states and the District of Columbia, but many of them are small and may not have enough clout to get the wine on store shelves.

Wine of the week: Josep Masachs Ressò 2013

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Masachs RessoThe Wine Curmudgeon buys wine not because he wants to, or because he thinks he will enjoy drinking it, but because it’s in the store, it’s the right price, and it might be worth writing about. Needless to say, that doesn’t always work out, and my notes are full of angry comments: “plonk,” “overpriced grocery store junk,” and the like.

The Masachs Resso ($10, purchased, 13.5%) seemed to be one of those wines, garnacha from a part of Spain best known for cava, the region’s sparkling wine. Still, it was $10, and it was brought into the U.S. by Winesellers, Ltd., one of my favorite cheap wine importers.  Call the result serendipity — a top-notch Spanish red wine when I didn’t expect it.

Look for garnacha-style sweet strawberry fruit in the middle, but fun to drink and not overdone. The fruit is surrounded by more earthiness than I had any right to hope for, fresh acidity, and what wine geeks call dusty tannins. Think of that as tannins that aren’t harsh or too astringent, but that complement all that fruit.

The Masachs Resso was much better than I thought it would be, and is just the wine for summer barbecues, burgers, and even on its own, slightly chilled. Sometimes, the Wine Curmudgeon doesn’t have to suffer for his art.


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Wine of the week: Félines Jourdan Picpoul-de-Pinet 2013

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Felines Jourdan picpoulPicpoul, the white wine made with the picpoul grape in southern France, is one of those summertime wines that most Americans, unless they write a wine blog, don’t know about. The catch, of course, is that given the way the wine world works, even if more of us knew about picpoul, we probably wouldn’t be able to buy it. The last time I checked, the retailers that bother (and even the good ones) carry the same picpoul.

Because it’s not chardonnay, and aren’t we supposed to drink chardonnay?

Fortunately, the Wine Curmudgeon is ever vigilant, and can report that the Felines Jourdan picpoul ($10, sample, 13%) is well worth knowing, buying, and drinking — lots and lots of it, in fact. Jourdan makes a couple of picpouls, which by itself would recommend it to the Wine Curmudgeon. That this version of the Felines Jourdan picpoul is so well done, and offers so much more than almost any other picpoul I’ve tasted, makes it that much better.

Look for the varietal’s trademark tart lemon fruit (picpoul loosely translates as lip-stinger in English), as well as something softer — peach? — in the middle and a little minerality on the finish. Again, not something that a lot of $10, one-note wines have or even consider having.

Drink this chilled on its own or with almost any combination of boiled seafood this summer (or in any of the other nine months, actually). Highly recommended, and almost certain to go into the $10 Hall of Fame in January.

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