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Category Archives: Red wine

Wine of the week: Château Moulin De Mallet 2011

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Château Moulin De MalletThis will sound like damning with faint praise, but it isn’t meant to be. Rather, this review of the Château Moulin De Mallet speaks to how much the wine world has changed over the past couple of decades.

Is the Mallet ($11, sample, 13.5%), a French red Bordeaux blend, as French as I want it to be? No, but since it’s almost impossible to find that style of French wine at this price any more, it will do. In fact, save for the Chateau Bonnet red and one or two others, you’re probably not going to find any better or more interesting Bordeaux that is this affordable, given that winemaking styles today emphasize fruit at the expense of the rest of the wine.

Look for softish red fruit, some earth (but not enough to be unpleasant if you don’t like that quality), the requisite amount of tannins, and just enough terroir so that it tastes French. This is an older vintage because it was a sample, but the newer vintages, including the 2014, are probably just as worth drinking. Enjoy Château Moulin De Mallet on its own, or pair it with any straightforward red wine dinner, whether hamburgers or a tomato-based soup.

Wine of the week: Tormaresca Neprica 2012

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tormaresca nepricaOnce, the Tormaresca Neprica was among the greatest cheap wines in the world. It was the best-loved wine on the blog, getting the most visitors for any review, and its popularity here even translated into better sales and distribution (or so I was told).

And then one of those things happened that happens in wine, and the Neprica ($12, sample, 13.5%), an Italian red blend, was never the same. Where it had been dark and plummy and even a little earthy, it became soft and too fruity and a little ashy in the middle. Who knows why? Did the grapes come from a different place? Did the winemaker decide to do something different? Was the brand sold (which, apparently, is sort of what happened)?

The result was just another $12 grocery store red wine that tasted like every other grocery store wine. The Neprica dropped out of the Hall of Fame, the number of people who read the reviewed dwindled to insignificance, and the world moved on. I’d taste the wine every year or so to see if anything had changed, and it hadn’t.

Until this one. The Tormaresca Neprica still isn’t what it was, but it is more than another grocery store wine. Look for lots of red fruit, but not so much that there isn’t anything else in the wine. The ashy taste in the middle is mostly gone, and the finish is pleasant if not long. Pair this with red sauce and winter dishes, and be glad it’s worth drinking again.

Wine of the week: Pinot Patch 2013

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pinot patchRegular visitors here know one of the Wine Curmudgeon’s favorite laments: That it’s almost impossible to find $10 pinot noir that tastes remotely like pinot noir (or $20 or $30 or $40 pinot noir that tastes like pinot noir, but that’s another matter). There are several decent $10 wines that say pinot on the label, but they’re more fruity red blends than anything else.

So I was quite pleased to meet Aaron Inman, whose family owns Romililly Wines, which makes Pinot Patch pinot noir ($11, sample, 13.5%) because that’s one of the reasons for being for the wine — to make a quality, affordable pinot that tastes like pinot. This California red has berry fruit, but not so much that it tastes like a fruity red blend, as well as that hint of earthiness in the aroma that pinot should have. Best yet, the tannins are zingy and not harsh, so that the wine doesn’t remind you of cabernet sauvignon.

Yes, it’s a simple wine, but it doesn’t insult you by pretending to be something that it’s not. In $10 pinot, that’s a victory for the good guys. Drink this with any red meat (burgers on the grill?) and be glad that Inman gave up engineering in favor of winemaking. And check out the picture on the Pinot Patch website of the young Inman and his brother Jesse on their bikes. Those are the kind of people I want making my wine.

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