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Category Archives: Holiday wine

Wine of the week: Segura Viudas Gran Cuvee Reserva NV

wineofweek

Segura Viudas Gran Cuvee ReservaGiven Segura Viudas’ $10 Hall of Fame reputation, it’s no surprise that the new Segura Viudas Gran Cuvee Reserva is another top-notch wine.

I say this even though the Gran Cuvee Reserva ($14, purchased, 12%) is the company’s attempt at trading consumers up, and we all know how the Wine Curmudgeon feels about premiumization. And, to make matters worse, it includes a little chardonnay and pinot noir, two grapes that sometimes show up in cava and rarely add much more than a flabby sweetness.

This time, though, the result is a more elegant, Champagne-like cava — which, of course, I should have expected given Segura’s devotion to quality. Look for some crisp apple, tart lemon, and even a hint of berry fruit, as well as a creamy mousse and a bit of yeasty aroma. Plus, it still has all those wonderful tight bubbles.

This is a step up from the regular Segura and well worth the extra three or four dollars. Highly recommended, whether you’re toasting the New Year in a couple of days or you feel like sparkling wine to brighten a gloomy winter’s day. I drank this with my annual holiday gumbo (chicken, sausage, and okra, made in the finest Cajun tradition, including a nutty, chocolate-colored roux) and my only regret was that I didn’t have a second bottle to drink.

New Year’s sparkling wine 2015

champagne

New Year's sparkling wine 2015The Wine Curmudgeon will soon start the second year of his Champagne boycott, and I can’t say I’ve missed spending lots of money for wine that — as terrific as it can be — is almost never a value. With that in mind, here are my annual New Year’s sparkling wine suggestions, focusing on affordable bubbly that also offers value.

Also handy: The blog’s annual wine gift guidelines and the sparkling wine primer.

Barefoot Bubbly Brut Cuvee ($10, sample, 11.5%): Every time I taste this California sparkler, and I taste it a couple of times a year, I’m always stunned at how well made it is. Even though it’s charmat, a less sophisticated production method than methode champenoise, the bubbles are still tight and the wine isn’t flabby or too sweet. Look for crisp apple fruit and a little creaminess, and serve well chilled.

Fantinel Prosecco Extra Dry NV ($15, sample, 11.5%): The Champagne boycott has forced me to spend more time with Prosecco, and I’m glad I did, discovering wines that were neither too soft or too simple and demonstrating again one should taste the wine before judging it. The Fantinel, though it’s labeled extra dry, is not appreciably sweeter than many bruts, and it features a flowery aroma and well done tropical fruit.

Mistinguett Cava Brut NV ($12, sample, 12%): Yet another Spanish bubbly that is simple but well-made and well worth the price. It’s got some sort of lemon-lime thing going on, but not too sweet and with a refreshing pop to it. Probably a little more Prosecco like than most cavas, but not unpleasant in the least.

Pierre Boniface Les Rocailles Brut de Savoie NV ($15, purchased, 12%): This cremant from the Savoie region (cremant is French sparkling wine not from Champagne) is made with jacquère, altesse, and chardonnay, so regular visitors know I would like it just for the two odd grapes. But it shows a touch of sweetness, some fresh white fruit, and a very intriguing minerality. It probably needs food, which you can’t say about most bubbly.

More about New Year’s sparkling wine:
New Year’s sparkling wine 2014
New Year’s sparkling wine 2013
New Year’s sparkling wine 2012
Wine of the week: Astoria Prosecco NV
Wine of the week: Casteller Cava NV

Christmas wine 2015

Christmas wine 2015

Christmas wine 2015Suggestions for Christmas wine 2015, whether you need to buy a gift or need ideas about what to serve family and friends. As always, keep our wine gift giving tips in mind:

Ponzi Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2013 ($40, sample, 13.2%): Pricey but elegant, this is an example of what Oregon pinot noir can deliver. Look for cherry and raspberry fruit and wonderfully soft tannins that remind you that this is red wine, but still pinot noir. It’s a terrific gift for someone who loves pinot, and would go equally as well with roast lamb. 

Scaia Rosato 2014 ($10, purchased, 12.5%): I bought a case of this Italian rose, and was lucky to get it. When I went back to the store, it was almost gone. It’s a gorgeous, Provencal-style rose with a touch more fruit (raspberry?) as well as the aroma of wildflowers and a wonderful freshness. Drink on its own, or as a gift for someone who isn’t sure they like wine. Highly recommended.

La Fiera Pinot Grigio 2014 ($10, purchased, 12%): This Italian white doesn’t have as much fruit as I like, but it’s an excellent example of the tonic water style that is usually done so badly. It’s clean, simple, and refreshing; sip on its own, or with holiday turkey.

Vibracions Cava NV ($9, purchased, 11.5%): This Spanish sparkler has green apple and lemon fruit, very tight bubbles, and cava freshness. It’s not rich or full, but it’s not supposed to be. Drink this with any holiday brunch or as an aperitif,  if you’re feeling fancy.

Vina Fuerte 2011 ($5, purchased, 13%): The good news is that this Spanish tempranillo delivers twice as much value  as it costs, with cherry fruit, a bit of organe peel, and some heft. The bad news is that it’s sold mostly at Aldi, and my Aldi can’t keep it in stock. Drink with any red meat dinner or even roast chicken.

More about Christmas wine:
Christmas wine 2014
Christmas wine 2013
Christmas wine 2012
Expensive wine 75: John Duval Plexus
Expensive wine 73: Pierre-Marie Chermette Fleurie Poncie 2013

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