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Category Archives: California wine

Mini-reviews 59: Hearty Burgundy, white Burgundy, Aldi, Gascogne

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Mini-reviews 59: Hearty Burgundy, whReviews 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, mini-reviews of four wines I really wanted to like, but didn’t:

Gallo Family Vineyards Hearty Burgundy NV ($9/1.5 liters, sample, 12%): The wine your parents and grandparents drank in college (in a 50th anniversary edition) is more modern in style these days, with more ripe black fruit. But it still tastes pretty much like it did then, which is surprising, and, for better or worse, epitomizes the concept of jug wine.

Olivier Leflaive Bourgogne Blanc Les Sétilles 2011 ($25, purchased, 12.5%): Disappointing white Burgundy from one of my favorite producers — more like what California chardonnay tastes like when winemakers say they’ve made “French-style” wine. Oak isn’t integrated at all, though apple and pear fruit is evident.

Sunshine Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2013: ($7, purchased, 13%): Aldi store brand is one-note, citrus-aggressive New Zealand white that’s a step up from something like Monkey Bay but, oddly, not all that enjoyable when the bottle is empty.

Globerati Côtes de Gascogne ($6, purchased, 12%): Easily the worst made Gascon wine I’ve ever had — thin, lacking fruit, almost no terroir, and none of the white grapiness that makes Gascon wine so much fun. What was Globerati thinking?

Wine of the week: Joel Gott Sauvignon Blanc 2013

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Wine of the week: Joel Gott Sauvignon Blanc 2013Whenever the Wine Curmudgeon gets depressed about the quality of cheap California wine, Joel Gott’s wines always cheer me up. Gott not only makes impressive cheap wine, but he is passionate and committed about it, and believes that consumers deserve the best value possible for their money. Would that more California producers felt that way.

Case in point is the 2013 sauvignon blanc ($12, purchased, 13.9%). This is top-of-the line California sauvignon blanc, comparable to wines that cost as much as $10 more. Look for citrus (lemon and not grapefruit) and trademark California grassiness (the smell of a freshly cut lawn) in the front, but also some tropical fruit (melon?) in the middle, a quality most of the people who make cheap wine don’t bother with.

It’s not quite as impressive as the 2012, but that may be because it had just been bottled when I tasted it. Regardless, and assuming I can find it later this year for $10, it’s a candidate for the 2015 Hall of Fame.

Pair the sauvignon blanc, chilled, with grilled seafood or roast chicken, or drink on its own. And, when you do, toast someone who understands that most of us want quality wine we can afford to drink every day, and who makes wine for that purpose.

My lunch with Randall Grahm, part II

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Randall Grahm, part IIThis is the second of two parts detailing my recent chat with Bonny Doon’s Randall Grahm. Today, reviews of the wine we tasted. Part I — Grahm on wine, winemaking, and the post-modern wine world.

My Boony Doon moment came during the 2011 Le Cigare Blanc. I said I liked it a lot, and Grahm smiled and offered that it would be even better when he added picpoul to the blend, which is currently grenache blanc and roussanne. Which demonstrates his creativity and passion, but also what Grahm admits may be a less than consumer-centric approach to winemaking. It’s not as if wine drinkers are clamoring for a $25 white blend made with three grapes they’ve never heard of.

But how dull the world would be if all we drank were chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon. Which, of course, is part of Grahm’s reason for being, and why so many of us appreciate what he does. After the jump, the eight wines and cider we tasted (all were samples):

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