Category Archives: Spanish wine

Wine of the week: Rene Barbier Mediterranean Red NV


Rene Barbier Mediterranean RedThe Wine Curmudgeon has pretty much had it with the wine business over the last three or four months, as regular visitors here probably noticed the moaning and complaining. The cranky meter has been turned up to 11, but why not? Most of the samples since April have been insipid and flabby, and were so overpriced they wouldn’t have been worth buying even if they had been drinkable. I’ve dumped more wine down the drain since Tax Day than I usually do in two years.

Fortunately, there is the Rene Barbier Mediterranean Red ($5, purchased, 12.5%), the merlot and tempranillo blend from Spain that has had a well-deserved spot in the $10 Hall of Fame for several years. How a very cheap wine offers so much that wines costing three or four times more don’t have speaks to the cynicism and tomfoolery that is dominating the wine business these days.

Look for red fruit that tastes like wine, and not cherry cough syrup or Hawaiian Punch; soft but noticeable tannins, which so many of these wines have abandoned in their quest to cram in as much sweet fruit as possible; and a finish that is neither bitter, green, nor annoying. It’s a wonder of winemaking in the post-modern world, and it’s one I appreciate so much that I bought a case. I use it to wash out the taste of the more expensive samples.

Serve the Rene Barbier Mediterranean Red whenever you want a glass after work (it has a screwcap now) or with any sort of summer red wine dinner. And don’t be afraid to chill it, which doesn’t dull the wine at all.

Wine of the week: Bodegas La Cana Rías Baixas 2013


La Cana Rias BaixasJust when the Wine Curmudgeon thinks he has squeezed every last penny of value out of Spanish wine, he finds something like the La Cana Rías Baixas.

Call it one more amazing wine in what seems to be a never ending succession of amazing Spanish wines. The La Cana ($10, purchased, 12.5%) is made with albarino, fast becoming the hipsters’ favorite Spanish white grape. Do not hold that against the wine, though. Somehow, and for just $10, it shows off albarino’s varietal citrus fruit in the front (a lemon-limey thing?), tropical fruit in the middle, a long finish, and even a bit of the salty tang that legend says comes from the grapes being grown so close to the sea in the Rias Baixas region in Galicia on the northwest coast.

The La Cana could use a little more acidity to balance the tropical fruit, but then it would cost $18 and would be the hipsters’ much beloved Paco and Lola albarino. Which is a nice wine, but why pay $18 when you can pay $10?

Highly recommended, and almost certain for inclusion in the 2016 $10 Hall of Fame. This is seafood wine, and especially boiled seafood (shrimp or crawfish) on the back porch as the weather warms up. And oysters and mussels wouldn’t be a bad choice, either.


Wine of the week: Juvé y Camps Cava Brut Rosé NV


Juvé y CampsThe Wine Curmudgeon, faced with the prospect of never drinking Champagne again, is not flinching. The bully boys at the Champagne trade council, whose behavior in the Champagne Jayne case is inexcusable on both moral and free speech grounds, can take their wine and water my garden with it.

I am more than happy to drink cava, which is not only a better value but made by people who seem to understand that their product is not more important than Liberté, Égalité, and Fraternité. Hence my the wine of the week for The Holiday that Must Not be Named: the Juvé y Camps Cava Brut Rosé ($15, purchased, 12%).

Juvé y Camps is one of my favorite cava producers, offering a little more style than the $10 and $12 cavas that I like so well, and this rose does just that. Look for ripe, red juicy fruit (strawberry?), made more in the style of a French cremant (sparkling wine from France not from the Champagne region) than most cavas. So it’s a little rounder and richer, which gives the wine a more pleasant and creamier mouth feel.

Drink this chilled on its own or with something grilled or roasted, be it shrimp, chicken, or beef. It’s the kind of wine to serve with dinner, enjoy, and then smile at how much you enjoyed it.

And did I mention it’s not Champagne?

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