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Category Archives: Sparkling wine

Wine review: Cleto Chiarli Lambrusco Vecchia Modena Premium 2012

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Wine review: Cleto Chiarli LambruscoThe Wine Curmudgeon does not like red sparkling wine. This dates to an unpleasant experience with sparkling shiraz at a trendy Fort Worth restaurant and a waiter who knew a lot less about wine than he thought. The less said about it, the better.

Still, the only rule of wine is to drink as many kinds as possible, whether one likes it or not. So when the Italian Wine Guy said the Cleto Chiarli ($14, sample, 11%), a red bubbly from Italy, was one of his favorites, who was I to argue? And which demonstrates that you should always listen to people who know more than you do.

Because I enjoyed it, as quirky as it was. Quirky because it had very dark fruit, very dry, and even slightly tannic, hardly what Americans expect from the sweet and soft fruit Lambruscos that most of us know. It’s not for all tastes, and especially for someone expecting a sweet wine or a more conventional sparkler.

But if you want to try it, you’ll find a very well made wine with better quality bubbles than I expected and that is unlike almost anything else you’ve ever had. Serving it chilled wouldn’t hurt, and the tannins make it a better food wine than expected. And you might even like it, which is the best part.

One caveat: The bottle has an old-fashioned wire closure — the best comparison is a piece of clothes hanger holding the cork down — and not a sparkling wine cage. I used a screwdriver to pry it off, though I doubt that’s the traditional method.

Wine of the week: Adami Prosecco Brut Garbèl NV

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Wine of the week: Adami Prosecco Brut Garbèl NVThe problem with Prosecco for those of us who don’t understand it is that it doesn’t taste the way we expect it to. It’s made differently, so it’s sweeter and not as bubbly. That makes it difficult to judge Prosecco as Prosecco, and not in comparison to Champagne, cava, or any sparkling wine made in a more dry and bubbly style.

Which is even more difficult if you’re one of the world’s greatest living advocates of cava and someone whose only criticism of Champagne is that it’s too expensive.

But the Wine Curmudgeon is nothing if not persistent, and my exploration of Prosecco over the past month or so has helped me get a better idea of what it is and why so many people like it. Because they do: Two-thirds of the increase in imported sparkling wine sales in 2012 in the U.S. came from Italy, and most of that was Prosecco. The key to understanding Prosecco? To accept it for what it is, and not to make the mistake that Champagne snobs make when dismissing cava for no other reason than it isn’t Champagne. Prosecco is supposed to taste like Prosecco, and nothing else.

The Adami ($15, sample, 11%) is a big step in that direction. It tastes like quality Prosecco, with more character and interest than many others at this price. That means more structure — a beginning, middle, and end, instead of just a sweetish, fruity middle — and apple fruit instead of softer tropical flavors. The bubbles are also a little sturdier. All in all, very nicely done, and you could do much worse tonight when toasting the New Year.

Winebits 314: Sparkling wine for New Year’s

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Suggestions for New Year’s bubbly from around the cyber-ether:

• Dave McIntyre of the Washington Post has almost every possibility covered, from Greek sparkling wine (who knew there was any) to more conventional — if pricey — suggestions. The Deutz Rose Brut is terrific wine, and that Dave got to an interview with the legendary Maximilian Riedel of wine glass fame when he tasted it makes the experience all that much more fun. And that Dave wants to argue with Riedel about wines glasses — I can only hope to be invited to watch.

Jon Bonne at the San Francisco Chronicle discusses the state of American sparkling wine, and his assessment is intelligent and evenhanded — including his comments that “sweet wines are getting sweeter and more market-driven.” Among his suggestions: an Iron Horse, one of my choices for a celebration if the cheap wine book ever makes a lot of money, and Gloria Ferrer, perhaps the best value bubbly in California.

George Yatchisin recommends California sparklers on the KCET television website, and I include his choices for three reasons. First, one of them is Schramsberg, which may be the best bubbly house in the United States and always delivers something worth drinking. Second, because KCET is the public television station in Los Angeles, and how many public TV stations do wine writing? And third, because there are no prices listed for the wines. Damn, that’s impressive, to be able to write about wine and not care how much it costs.

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