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Category Archives: Wine of the week

Wine of the week: Chateau Bonnet Rouge 2010

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Chateau Bonnet rougeChateau Bonnet Rouge ($10, purchased, 14%) is the quintessential cheap red wine:

• It tastes of where it’s from, in this case the Bordeaux region of France. That means enough fruit to be recognizable (mostly red); some earthiness so that it doesn’t taste like it came from Argentina or Australia (almost mushroomy for this vintage); and tannins that make the wine taste better.

• Varietally correct, so that the merlot and cabernet sauvignon taste like merlot and cabernet sauvignon, and not some gerrymandered red wine where the residual sugar level was fixed before the wine was made.

• It doesn’t have any flaws or defects, and is consistent from vintage to vintage.

In this, it shows that simple wines can be enjoyable and that simple does not mean stupid or insulting. What more do wine drinkers need?

And if the Bonnet needs any more to recommend it, this was a four-year-old $10 wine. Too many four-year-old $10 wines don’t make it past 18 months before they oxidize or turn to vinegar.

Highly recommended (as are the Bonnet blanc and rose). The only catch is pricing. Some retailers, even for older, previous vintages like this, figure they can get $15 for it because it has a French label that says Bordeaux. It’s still a fine value for $15, but I hate to give those kinds of retailers my business.

Wine of the week: J Winery Pinot Gris 2013

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 J Winery Pinot Gris 2013The Wine Curmudgeon has almost run out of nice things to say about the J Winery pinot gris. You can look here. Or here. Or even here. But given that the 2013 vintage may be J’s best yet ($15, sample, 13.8%), I’ll try to find a couple more:

• Round, soft white fruit — peach, perhaps — but not flabby or overdone so that the fruit is the only thing you taste. 

• Fresh and crisp without any bitterness in the back, something else that is not common in this style of wine.

• Honest winemaking, in which the goal was to make a quality wine and not to hit a price point or please a focus group. Those are things that also happen too often with this style of wine.

This California white wine is highly recommended, as always, whether to finish out the summer on the porch or with grilled chicken or even fried catfish.

Wine of the week: Two reds from Josh Cellars

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Josh cellars wine reviewsBecause both of these red wines from California’s Josh Cellars are worth wine of the week honors. But, given the way the blog works and that I don’t like to do two similar wines from the same producer as the wine of the week, I’d have to leave one of them out. And there isn’t enough quality cheap red wine from California to do that. In this, Josh Cellars is an example to the rest of California about how to make cheap wine honestly and honorably.

The 2012 cabernet sauvignon ($11, purchased, 13.5%) somehow combines cabernet varietal character with California fruitiness (very black) for less than $15. If I hand’t tasted it, I wouldn’t have believed it. Plus, this is not a soft wine, which is also surprising, since most cabernets at this price (like the old Avalon) sacrifice style for fruit. Look for some spiciness as well as well integrated oak. Highly recommended, but it does need food and especially red meat.

The 2012 Legacy ($13, sample, 13.9%) is a merlot-based red blend that has all the qualities it should have — sweet blueberry fruit, smoothish tannins, and enough acidity to offer some structure to the wine. It has more heft than I expected, which is quite welcome, because the fruit doesn’t get in the way. Like the cabernet, it needs food and probably red meat. Not quite as terrific a value as the cabernet, but that speaks more to the former’s qualities than the latter’s faults, since it’s also well worth drinking.

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