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Category Archives: A Featured Post

Colorado Governor’s Cup 2015

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Colorado Governor's CupMidway through yet another enthusiastic debate during the sweepstakes round of this year’s Colorado Governor’s Cup wine competition, I asked Doug Caskey, who runs the event, “When’s the last time you heard people get this worked up about regional wine?” Doug laughed, and said he wasn’t sure he had ever heard this many people get this excited about this many wines at a regional wine competition.

Which says pretty much everything you need to know about this year’s Governor’s Cup, which annually picks the best wines in Colorado. It’s not so much the quality of the wines, which are much better than they were when I first judged in the state a decade ago. It’s that the judges, most of whom don’t specialize in regional wine but work for restaurants, retailers, and distributors, have a completely different opinion than was common then. They don’t dismiss the wines out of hand, and they understand that Colorado wine isn’t supposed to takes like wine from Napa or Sonoma.

How else to explain Warren Winiarski, one of the greatest winemakers in Napa history, giving double gold medals to several Colorado wines?

The results haven’t been released yet, so I can’t name names (but will post them when they are). But I was especially impressed by:

Two less-oaked chardonnays, which were crisp, fresh, and fruity. One of the judges went so far as to say one tasted more like Chablis, one of France’s great chardonnay regions, than the Colorado chardonnay he was used to.

Two syrahs, cause of tremendous arguing about which was the best wine of the competition. Both were delicious, and what made them even more appealing is that they were completely different in style — one more Old World, with that almost bacon fat aroma, and one more New World, with lots of berry fruit.

An absolutely gorgeous viognier, a grape I don’t usually associate with Colorado, that was on par with the best in Texas and Virginia, and much better than almost every California viognier I’ve ever tasted.

In this, Doug, who heads the Colorado Wine Board; his colleague, Kyle Schlachter; and state enologist Steve Menke have done yeoman work with the state’s wineries. This is always one of my favorite events to judge, and not just because they pay me $200. It’s a pleasure to judge an event where the winemakers want to get better, and where they have.

Memorial Day and rose 2015

Memorial Day and rose 2012

rose 2015The blog’s eighth annual rose post, which runs every year at the traditional start of summer, is notable for two reasons. First, it may well be the only place on the Internet that has consistently advocated for rose in the last decade, and, second, because of all the wines we’ve talked about. Dare I say that the combined posts are among the most comprehensive list of cheap, well-made, and value-oriented roses in the cyber-ether?

The Wine Curmudgeon, being the humble sort of fellow that he is, will let you decide that. The links at the bottom of this post will take you to many of the past recommendations, while the blog’s rose category offers even more reviews from the past eight years. The blog’s rose primer discusses styles, why rose is dry, and how it gets its pink color, and which vintages to buy. Note that some producers, who still don’t understand that we want dry rose instead of sweet pink wine, are calling their sweet pink wine rose to confuse us. The giveaway? Terms like silky and smooth on the back label. Rose should be crisp.

This year’s suggestions are below, but they’re only a start. As I wrote last year, “It’s almost impossible to find a badly made $10 rose.”

Fattoria La Valentina Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo 2013 ($11, purchased, 12.5%): Solid, if fruity, Italian rose with lots of strawberry, no doubt from the montepulciano d’abruzzo grape used to make the wine. Think of it as the pink wine equivalent of the red wine made in the same region frm the same grape, which usually offers quality and value.

Goats do Roam Rose 2014 ($8, purchased, 13.5%): Another in a long series of solid, fruity, value-driven rose from this South African producer. It has gamay this year, the same grape used in Beaujolais in France, which gives the wine more fruit (strawberry?) than you would expect.

Yalumba Y Series Rose 2013 ($10, purchased, 12%): Australia’s Yalumba always does a fine job with rose, and this no exception. It’s made with sangiovese, and offers soft red fruit balanced by cranberry and an apple peel sort of finish. Always one of my favorites.

Los Vascos Rose 2014 ($10, sample, 13.5%): This Chilean rose, owned by France’s Rothschild family, has had its ups and downs. But this vintage, made with cabernet sauvignon, is structured, fresh, and features dark red fruit. There is even some tannin, which adds interesting balance.

More about Memorial Day and rose:
Memorial Day and rose 2014
Memorial Day and rose 2013
Memorial Day and rose 2012
My lunch with Provence
$100 of wine

Wine of the week: Domaine du Tariquet Rosé

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tariquet roseWhat’s the perfect wine for rose week here on the blog? How about a rose from the Wine Curmudgeon’s favorite Gascon producer, Domaine du Tariquet?

Tariquet, of course, is the Gascon producer that introduced me to the wonders of ugni blanc and colombard in a cheap white blend. And the Tariquet rose ($10, sample, 12%), if not exactly the wine I expected, is another delicious cheap wine that demonstrates the Tariquet ability to deliver low prices and high quality.

Why not the wine I expected? Because it was much fruitier (watermelon?) than I thought it would be, given it’s French and not from California or Washington state. However, since it has merlot and syrah among its four-grape blend, that shouldn’t be surprising. This makes the Tariqet rose more New World than Old, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a terrific cheap wine. There is still balance, freshness, and a surprising amount of fullness and length for a $10 rose.

My only complaint? I’m not sure what vintage is for sale, and how available the wine will be this spring. Though there is a retailer in this area that carries the wine, it’s almost an hour away in Fort Worth. This sample, a 2012, came last fall from the importer, who was probably trying to get rid of inventory. Hopefully, most of us will be to find the wine more easily than I can, and will find a newer vintage.

Highly recommended, and almost certain to join the Tariquet white blend in the $10 Hall of Fame next year assuming I can find a more recent vintage.

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