Category Archives: A Featured Post

Mini-reviews 79: Black Friday wine


Black Friday wineReviews 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. This month, four wine reviews for the price of one — how much more Black Friday wine can you get?

Marqués de Cáceres Rioja Reserva 2009 ($18, sample, 13.5%): Spanish red from the Rioja region is terrific value, especially since it’s probably much cheaper in most supermarkets. True reserva tempranillo, with integrated oak and tart cherry fruit, and not just a fruitier version of the entry-level crianza.

Campo Viejo Rioja Reserva 2009 ($14, sample, 13.5%): This Spanish red, like the Caceres from one of the country’s biggest producers, is also much better more enjoyable than its crianza, though not as well-rounded as the Caceres reserva.

Gianni Masciarelli Villa Gemma 2013 ($17, sample, 13.5%): This Italian white, made with two little known Italian grapes and a splash of chardonnay, is heavier and richer than I expected, with white pepper and only a little white fruit. Having said this, it’s an intriguing wine that needs food (chicken in a wine sauce?) and should improve with age.

Georges Dubœuf Beaujolais-Villages 2013 ($9, purchased, 13.5%): Surprisingly acceptable French red, given how disappointing so much Beaujolais is these days. A little rustic, even though it’s an older vintage, but varietally correct, grapy and fresh.

Wine of the week: Casteller Cava NV


casteller cavaSomehow, despite the Wine Curmudgeon’s passion for cava, the Spanish sparkling wine, and several reviews of the Casteller rose cava, I have neglected to review the Casteller brut. What better time time to rectify this than for Thanksgiving?

The Casteller cava ($10, purchased, 11.5%) does everything sparkling wine is supposed to do, regardless of price. It has tight bubbles that sparkle up from the bottom of the glass; a vague notion of the toast that is part of Champagne’s appeal; and crisp, fresh, sweet lemon fruit. In this, it’s not exactly soft like some Proseccos or sweet sparklers, but more fruit forward, and certainly not unpleasant.

And, for your $10, you can buy four bottles the Casteller cava instead of one bottle of very ordinary Champagne. Highly recommended, and almost certain to enter the 2016 $10 Hall of Fame in six weeks. Chill this and serve it with Thanksgiving dinner, on its own, or any time you feel like something bubbly. Which, as regular visitors here know, is any time at all.

Winebits 413: Local wine, craft beer, Lidl


local wineDrink local: Our old pal Andrew Stover, one of the world’s leading proponents of local wine, has a message for Thanksgiving: Think less California and more Texas, Missouri, Michigan, and Virginia. Best yet, Stover puts his money where his mouth is, importing local wines as a distributor to the Washington, D.C., area. I’ve known Stover since our first Drink Local Wine conference, and he has never wavered from the cause. He has done such a good job, in fact, that some of my favorite Texas wines sell out in D.C.

Billions and billions of dollars: It’s actually one bullion, but who’s counting? Constellation Brands, one of the biggest wine companies in the word, paid $1 billion — almost 10 times earnings, a startling number — for the trendy craft beer producer Ballast Point last week. This is incredible on so many levels that I don’t even know where to start, but does speak to how craft beer has become part of the mainstream and makes me wonder: How much longer will it remain crafty?

Waiting until 2018: Lidl, the other German discount grocer famous for cheap wine, will open its first stores in the U.S. in 2018, with 50 locations in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland, and Washington D.C. Said the company’s CEO: “The United States are a strategic market for us.” Should I start a countdown clock?

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